“Living in London is so expensive, how can you do it as a freelancer?” That’s the question I get the most. Truth be told, it’s really not that hard - you just need to know where to find your gigs and how to put yourself out there. For almost three years I’ve been living as a freelancer and last year, I decided to permanently reside in London (thanks, Brexit). Here’s what a day in the life of a freelancer in London looks like.
6AM - wake up call.
I like my routine - it’s something I haven’t changed even as I left my 9-5. As an early bird, knowing that I can have some ‘me time’ is an important part of my daily routine. So I rise (but not necessarily shine yet) at 6AM, usually woken up by my automatic coffee maker. Freshly made coffee as an alarm clock? Seriously, you need to try it.
6AM - 9AM - me time.
When I did my hustle research, I noticed most of successful people out there have a bit of ‘me time’ before they head to work and have their job consume most of their day. This way, you stay productive and occupied with your personal life things. For me personally, that’s meditation and gym - they’re my two ‘me time’ things I do almost every day and greatly appreciate every moment of it. Throw some good food in the mix and my ‘me time’ is complete. Sometimes I'll head to Brighton or another seaside city for the day and work from there.
9AM - 6PM (give or take a couple of hours) - hustle.
Blame Gary Vaynerchuk for my overuse of the word ‘hustle’. I usually decide where I’m going to work on the day and I try to make sure I pick new and exciting cafes around the city I’ve never tried before. My decision where to work comes with two criterias: 1. Needs outlets. 2. Needs WiFi.
On the tube, I take my time to read, usually something fictional, or I listen to an inspiring business or marketing-related audiobook or podcast. And then, it’s hustle time.
My day usually consists of a lot of writing. And I mean a lot. I can easily crank out 5,000 words in a single day, supported by research, quotations, and all that jazz. I also dedicate some time to networking on LinkedIn as well as scouring the web for freelance projects. More than often, I take a break in between my writing sessions and go take a dance class or walk around and take some photos before I settle back in another cafe. And then it’s suddenly 6PM.
6PM - whenever, wherever
(I want to say 10PM but this is me PRing myself because I probably get about 5 hours of sleep max)
I take this time to plan and organize for the next day. Where will I work, what I need to do, I answer some of unanswered emails, I catch up on my YouTube videos, I do yoga, I take a dance class and so on and on.
And then rinse and repeat the next day.
Truth be told, being a freelancer in London isn’t all that scary as it might seem and not at all that different from freelancing in other cities. But there are a couple of ways you can make sure you can actually afford your freelance lifestyle.
My tips for making freelancing in London affordable:
- Pick an accommodation with all bills inclusive
I can’t stress this enough. Not having to worry about bills is one of the best things ever as a freelancer - you just never know when you’re going to have a dry month and have all those bills creep up on you (seriously, do NOT underestimate council tax if you’re not a student). Bonus point if you find an apartment building with free access to gym and a strong community - it helps during those lonely freelancer blues we all get.
- Pick European or UK gigs
Unfortunately, conversion sucks and your dolla dolla bills will pretty much be eaten away. Although I do have some clients from the US and Canada, the majority of my clients are either in Europe or the UK - that way, I don’t have to worry about losing anything to conversion.
One of the best ways to find UK-based gigs is to network. And since you live in London, the best way to network is in person. Thousands of companies are based in co-working offices where you can find community-based events that are absolutely perfect for networking. My favourite way of finding freelance gigs is by connecting with recruiters that specialise in hiring freelancer on LinkedIn.
- Do at least one contractual in-house gig per year
At the moment, I’m employed at one of the largest gaming groups in the UK and I absolutely love having a new environment for a few months. There are plenty of companies out there that offer 3-month contracts to freelancers - this will help you save some money and make sure you’ll still earn enough during your dry income months (and those will come). On top of that, these gigs look absolutely amazing on your CV, your portfolio, and in your little networking book (hello referrals!).
- Stay on top of your taxes
One of my biggest downfalls as a freelancer were not sorting out my taxes the minute I opened my business. I put it off to the point where I had to pay money even during my first year. And let me tell you, it was an unexpected amount that brought a lot of stress in my life. Speaking of stress, do yourself a favor and open at least two bank accounts to control your finances.
- Take care of your mental health
Don’t forget to socialise. Seriously. Go to freelance events, chat with people you meet while you work in your little cafe, go on apps, anything! Take care of your mental health because isolation in London can be a terrible thing - and as freelancers, we can easily isolate ourselves without even noticing.
And that's what it looks like to be a freelancer in London! Leave your own freelance tips in the comments!
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