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10 Lessons Learned From Transitioning From Freelance to Full-Time Employee

When I started 2020, I couldn’t have imagined all the massive changes that would take place this year. Like most people, I started the year with excitement in my eyes about the new year and decade. In March, most of those dreams were put on pause as COVID-19 became a huge part of public discourse. In April, I got the opportunity of a lifetime, stability with a startup I’d be working with as a freelancer for a few years. In May, I joined a startup in the HR technology space as a marketing coordinator. My year has been pretty wild!

Through those ups, downs, and ups, I learned a lot of lessons. Today I am here to share ten lessons I learned transitioning from freelance to full-time during a global pandemic.

1. Your Planner Will Become Your Best Friend

After I finished school in 2017, I never really gravitated toward using a planner regularly. I didn’t truly need to. I usually juggled a couple of clients and my lifestyle blog. I could typically handle everything. Now, my planner is my absolute best friend.

I use a physical planner as well as Google Calendar. Here are a few tips that have helped me:

  • Write out fun/interesting memories for the week: I use Day Designer’s weekly planner. Each week there is a space for notes. I fill that space with a win or fun fact from that week to look back at it later.
  • Get more specific with your Google Calendar entries: I am a freelance writer. For my client assignments, I always add in the word count to get an overview of the words I need to write that week on my Google Calendar app. Think about what you can add to your entries to make them more informative at a glance.
  • Don’t be afraid to move dates up: It can be challenging to get stuff done on time. Move dates in your planner up, so you know they’ll always be done early, and you can stress less about deadlines and how you show up.

2. Sometimes You Have To De-Prioritize Things

Before I started working a full-time job, I could arrange my time better. I could fit in interviews for my podcast, work on client work, and blog to my heart’s content. When I got my full-time job, some stuff needed to be de-prioritized. That’s more than okay! I decided to put my podcast on hold, and I am just finally starting to bring it back. You can’t be everywhere, and you can’t do everything. Pick what matters most in your life at the moment, and stick to those things. Set a date for when you want to bring back other hobbies, and stick to it.

3. People Are Paying Attention To What You Do

I was able to go from freelance to full-time because of the work that I did. I got on my current employer’s radar because I made sure that I did my best on my client work. Even if I didn’t think people were paying attention to what I did, they were. It can be challenging to leverage this attention, especially if you work for a company that can’t compensate you for your hard work.

Whenever you work with a client, a colleague, etc. do your best work. You never know what’s happening on their end or who’s watching you.

4. There Is So Much Noise

As a freelancer working with startups, it was hard for me to envision life on the other side. I loved (and still love) working with HR tech startups, but I didn’t understand life as a startup employee.

Working at a startup has been interesting. There is so much noise. As soon as I started working full-time, got an official email, and listed my employment on LinkedIn, I started getting requests and messages. I’ve received more requests on LinkedIn since becoming a marketing coordinator than I got in the year before this. I’ve made some fun connections, but I’ve also had many sales pitches and requests come my way from businesses of all sorts.

I love a good cold pitch. I wouldn’t be where I am without cold pitching. But then I also think about how pitching in my inbox has affected me. I can’t get back to every message I get. I am not against cold pitching, but I understand the value of caring and understanding now. Email helps you connect with clients, but being careful with the number of follow-ups is always encouraged.

5. Outsourcing Is Within Reach, Even On A Budget

I think there is a preconceived notion that you need to be bringing in large sums of money every month to outsource. You can outsource many small things like grocery shopping, putting together furniture, chores around the house, etc. You can also outsource bigger projects. I’ve learned to value outsourcing in and out of work. We can’t be everywhere at once, but we can reach out to others who can help us.

6. Authenticity And Honesty In The Workplace Is Refreshing

Getting a job during a pandemic was tough. Some of my past clients were dealing with layoffs and company personnel changes due to the pandemic. All while I was getting a new job. I think most people getting a job during this challenging time felt some guilt.

Going into my new job, I didn’t know what to expect. What I found was authenticity and honesty far beyond what I thought I would get from an employer. I always know exactly where my company stands, and I value that deeply.

Wherever my career path leads me in the future, I will always seek authenticity, honesty, and openness from my employer.

7. You Don’t Have To Hide Success (Even During A Global Pandemic)

With so many layoffs happening, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to let other people know about my success. I found that my friends, colleagues, and family continue to support me in all the things I’m accomplishing. I am glad that I stepped out and shared my good news with those around me. Misery may love company, but so does success.

8. Forty Hours Isn’t Everything

When you work in a startup, you can’t do everything. I used to think if I only had more hours to devote to one place, that I would all of a sudden be a content marketing Superwoman. Well, it didn’t work that way. As a self-described busy body, this created a lot of challenges for me.

Having more hours to work won’t make you a productivity guru, especially during these challenging times. Understand that you are doing the best that you can.

9. Don’t Lose Sight Of The Things That Make You Happy

The best advice I got from my colleagues is not to lose sight of the things that make me happy. With so much outsourcing and de-prioritizing, it can be easy to lose sight of the target. Be honest about your center, especially when you are juggling a lot of tasks at work. Where are you trying to go? Keep that in your mind. You never want to wake up one day and realize that you’ve steered yourself in the wrong direction chasing what other people want.

 

10. Find Pockets Of Time To Get Work Done

When it comes to balancing a full-time job, freelancing, blogging, and podcasting––you need to find all the pockets of time to get work done. Here are some tips on how to manage this:

  • Mornings: I am usually at my desk and working for my day job by 8 AM, but I typically wake up around 6-6:30 AM. I use some of that time to get ready for the day, and the other time I spend getting a few tasks done or replying to any emails that came in while I was sleeping.
  • Lunch: During my lunch, I usually finish quick tasks. I might write a bit on a freelance assignment, create a podcast outline, or send some emails. I like to jot down a short to-do list at the start of lunch. I love to cook during lunch, but if I need my entire lunch hour, I’ll usually warm up leftovers, have a microwave meal, or fix a quick sandwich.
  • Evenings: I get a ton of freelance work done during the evenings before bed. After work, I’ll take a few hours off to watch a bit of Netflix. After that, I’ll retreat to my office for a few hours of uninterrupted work time. I love using FM to improve focus during these sessions.
  • Weekends: I’ll usually create a weekend to-do list on Friday evening/Saturday morning filled with all the tasks I need to complete that weekend. Since working all the time can get old, I usually try to spend at least one weekend off per month.

Conclusion

Transitioning from freelance to full-time wasn’t easy for me. I was used to doing things on my own time, and I could be pretty unproductive. When I think about how much I’ve grown in the past few months, I am always amazed. If you’re ready to make the transition from freelance to full-time, let your clients know. You never know what they’re looking for in an employee. You have a headstart on the competition thanks to your connection to the company, so don’t be afraid to use it!

 

BIO:

Amanda Cross is a blogger, podcaster, and content marketing freelancer. Through her podcast, The Ambitious Freelancer, she discusses how to start a successful freelance career with freelancers from various industries. You can keep up with Amanda by following her lifestyle blog or following her on InstagramTwitter and LinkedIn.

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