Freelance scrapbooking is hard work. Don’t believe anyone who tells you differently. Sure, there are benefits like the convenience of working from home, setting your own schedule, and the personal control you have over your own salary. However there are some drawbacks to consider as well. I encourage folks to always go into a new business adventure with their eyes wide open. For freelance digi-scrap artists, realize your hours may be long and hard – especially in the beginning.
After staring at the computer for hours and working with clients photos while yours go unscrapped – there’s a good chance that at some point, you’ll burn up and burn out. There will be a day when your eyes become glazed over from sitting in front of the screen in a catatonic state and you realize you haven’t really budged from your chair for several hours. Looking at the clock you stop to think, did I feed the dog, did I forget to pick up the kids from school, OMG – I forgot to thaw out dinner!
For many freelance scrappers this kind of situation seems unavoidable. As a solo-preneur you wind up doing the jobs of many different people, and success or failure rests completely on your own shoulders. That’s a lot of pressure. You know that you wear the hats of the company sales manager, marketing consultant, the administrative assistant, the entire finance department, the business manager and oh yeah – you’re also the designer who produces the company products.
What to do About This Burnout Thing?
Keep your sanity in check and lower your stress levels. Take steps right from the beginning to prevent your own drowning. You don’t want to get swallowed up by the immense amount of work you have piling up on your desk. Instead, keep yourself above water and turn your business into a smooth sailing ship.
Plan Appropriately and Recognize Your Limitations
Set time aside to review the workload you have in front of you. Take an introspective look at your work habits. Do some business planning to help you optimize your time and energy. This will help you keep your operations working to your benefit for good health and good wealth.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to accept every job that comes your way, even in the beginning when money is tight. If you’re already swamped with work or if a project doesn’t fit your skill level – adamantly tell yourself NO! STOP! DON’T DO THIS! Gently tell the client, “not this time.” As much as it’s good to stretch yourself and grow – it’s also good to know your limits and stay within them when necessary. Remember, that if you miss a deadline or produce work of poor quality, it will hurt your business far more than missing out on a few extra dollars on one project. If you do have to turn down a project, then try to refer your client to another professional or let them know when/if you can take on the project in the future.
Learning to say no is a skill that will help you prevent getting overloaded with too much work!
Network with Peers While Staying on Target
Freelance designing can get lonely and cause tunnel vision as well. So it’s important to participate in a network of peer professionals that you can communicate and interact with. The web offers a great place for finding and developing relationships with other digital art professionals. Online forums such as the Digital Scrapbook Designer Professionals networking community is the perfect place to network with peers. Staying in touch with others will help you avoid feeling like you’re all alone in this world of digi-scraps. Our very own DigiD4O community forum holds a wealth of information and terrific networking possibilities too! Check out our membership levels, register, and visit often to keep in touch with what’s happening in the industry.
But if you are like me, this networking can also become a distraction. When you’re working alone sometimes it’s difficult to avoid distractions. With your flexible schedule, you may find that it’s easy to wander off track and busy yourself with doing things other than “real” work. To stay focused, keep a list of your priorities and set aside specific time for play, for web browsing, and for tasks that aren’t directly related to your bottom line. Avoid procrastination at all costs so your projects won’t pile up and leave you feeling overwhelmed!
Working from home is one sure way to enjoy the flexibility and freedoms, of entrepreneurship. Just remember to be fair and reasonable with yourself and manage your time well. Keep a healthy schedule, good perspective, and positive attitude – and your freelance designing career will be more enjoyable. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t get burned out.
Remember that one of the reasons you got into the business of scrapbook artistry is because you love what you do!
Cindy Angiel (aka PaintChip)