Freelancing in dance is not just about dance. Freelance writing is not just about writing. It’s so much more – we have to learn how to be proactive, creative, resourceful, learn how to communicate and network, while not going completely insane and take care of our mental health.
This post will be helpful if you’re considering a freelance career! Let’s go!
What does freelancing even mean?
A freelance job is one where you work for yourself, rather than for a company. Freelancers are self-employed, and take lots of different contracts.
The cool thing about freelancing is that you get to work with so many different people, companies and brands. Not two jobs are alike, you decide which contracts you want to take because you’re your own boss! You’ll most likely never get bored – and if you do – the job you’re on won’t last forever. Phew!
The best things about freelancing is also the worst things about freelancing. I put together a list og things I wish I knew about freelancing before I started:
1. Making your own schedule is not that easy
Freelance dancers are in charge of their own schedule. Where you take classes and in which styles, who you learn from, how often and how many hours a week is entirely and completely up to you. It’s not like team sports where you have specific practices you have to go to once a day. You don’t have a game every Sunday, but auditions that can show up at any time. But outside of auditions you are in charge of figuring out how you grow the most.
That requires a lot of self discipline and time management skills.
Sometimes “being your own boss” also means parenting yourself, eat that broccoli even though you don’t feel like it, or staying for the next class even though you want to go home.
2. … but it’s GREAT to have a flexible schedule
You definitely gain more flexibility when you’re a freelancer! If you hate early mornings and love working at 2 A.M or the other way around, freelancing is for you. I can write these blog posts whenever I want and for as many hours I want. In my “dance life” I can sleep in if my body needs it and in theoretically practice whenever I want.
Obviously, everything has consequences, but when you start freelancing – not just dance, but in any field – you can easily keep your 9-5 job for awhile, while you’re getting started. With a flexible schedule you can work in the after-hours and weekends until your freelance business starts taking off.
3. Don’t “just quit your job”
I know that lots of people on YouTube are yelling “QUIT YOUR JOB, GO FOR YOUR DREAM” and I agree in the “go for your dream!!”-part. But rent is still rent, and overnight successes don’t happen that often, so there’s absolutely NO shame in holding on to the job that pays your bills for a second.
Remember, if something is easy, everyone would do it. Being successful in anything takes time, practice and lots of mistakes. I have made an entire post about why a side hustle is a good idea that you can read here, because having money will definitely give you more opportunity in your freelance career too.
With the money from your “normal job” you can buy courses, classes, hours with a mentor, invest in tools to promote your business and most importantly: avoid financially stress. Which brings me to my next point:
4. You don’t have the same job stability when you’re a freelancer
In dancing, acting, singing, performing, blogging etc., you just don’t know when the next paycheck will be or how much money you’re gonna make. It’s very unsteady.
An income isn’t guaranteed, and you can make $2000 one month and $800 the next… Or you know, $10,000 one month and $500 the next. Or $0 one month. You get the point.
When you’re in-between jobs it’s easy to feel a bit (very) anxious.
When you are booked on a job it feels like you’ll be booked forever, and when you’re unemployed it feels like you’re gonna be unemployed forever too. None of it is true.
But you have to be able to deal with the uncertainty. Financially, but also mentally. If you tie your entire feeling of self-worth to the jobs you’re booking or the amount of money you’re making, freelancing will be an emotional rollercoaster.
5. Rejection is a part of freelancing
Your skin grows thicker with the amounts of “no’s” you’ll get along the way – especially if you enter the audition world, where you’ll stand next to hundreds of professional dancers every week. As a blogger, rejection looks like someone not replying to an e-mail or a brand telling you that you’re not what they’re looking for. But at auditions the rejection is to your face.
It’s easy to get discouraged, but remember that nothing is personal.
My wish for any freelancer is that you see “no” as motivation.
If you are competitive and stubborn, freelancing is definitely for you!
6. No one can tell you to do anything
The cool thing about freelancing in any field is that you don’t really work for anyone, so you have the option to turn down job opportunities too! If something isn’t appealing to you and someone is trying to underpay you – byeee Felicia. Respectfully.
Always remember that it’s a two-way street! You are your own brand and you have the power of a CEO in your own business. Don’t ever forget that you don’t owe people anything. YOU are the prize, my love!
7. Communication and networking in freelancing is key
Degrees and grades mean less and less in this world, and building strong genuine relationships is everything.
If you’re a freelance dancer, choreographers often don’t hold auditions but instead “direct book” which means that they pick dancers based on who they know and who they trust already.
So be nice, be yourself and be genuine. And hey, if you can stay humble, down-to-earth, listen to others, recognize your worth and speak proudly and confidently about yourself and your abilities (is that too much to ask!?) you’re on your way to build some great relationships.
8. Find your people
I cannot stress enough how important it is to remember being human outside of your freelance life. Sounds easy? Not always.
Find friends who you can be yourself with, who you can talk about not-only-business with too. Friends who want to go for a margarita with me on Taco Tuesday’s is so important to me to avoid burnout.
9. Freelancing takes time
It really does. So stop being so hard on yourself.
Please “just keep swimming”, as they say in Finding Nemo.
10. Freelancing teaches you to recognize your worth
I think most people undercharge when they start out. How much to teach a class? Ehhh… How much for a sponsored blog post? Uhmm, idk, what do you think? Stop, stop, stop.
Undercharging is first of all bad for your income, but it can also looks bad to your clients if you charge low. They wonder – is this too good to be true?
You HAVE to realize that when you’ve spent 10+ years in a field like dance for instance, you are most likely an expert in your field. So you should be getting paid like an expert.
Check this post on how much professional dancers make!
11. The small victories feel 10 times bigger
Because YOU did that. YOU. How fun and amazing is THAT!
12. Freelancing is not for everyone
It takes a certain type of crazy to love EVERYTHING about freelancing, since it comes with so much hard work and mental stress, but listen – everyone in this world can’t just start their own businesses. That’s not the ultimate goal for everyone, and this day-to-day lifestyle is not fun for everyone either. It’s not supposed to.
I’ll definitely reccommend to try it out if you’ve ever wondered what freelancing is like – but you’re definitely not weak or just ” sheep” or whatever the heck they call it on social media if you work a 9-5 job.
I think that is amazing, and honestly I often think: I’d probably be less stressed out and anxious if I had more stability.
13. Get your taxes together
Learn about it – like yesterday.
14. You can work all the time, so you work all the time
Night, days, early mornings, weekends, because if you miss a day of work, you just don’t have that day of income.
It’s so important to not let work take over your entire life and remember to slow down sometimes and enjoy the journey!
15. Building healthy habits is everything
Whether it’s a morning walk with your dog, sitting down with a podcast and a cup of coffee, lighting candles at night or taking every Friday off – building habits that you’re strict about helps you stay sane.
Your body and your mind is your instrument, your meal ticket and your bestie, so treat yourself with respect. Sleep enough, stay hydrated (Note to self: that means water, not a gallon of coffee).
16. Keep learning!
And keep developing your skills. It’s inevitable.
As a dancer, you keep going to classes and you keep training in different styles even when you’re a professional, because you know that even when you book jobs, you can always be better: “Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready” or whatever.
If you start a business, you’re not gonna know everything right from the beginning, so you have to be willing to sit down on your butt and learn about marketing, taxes, time management, networking etc.
If you want your business to grow, you need to grow.
Read “what starting a blog is really like” here!
At the end of the day;
We have to remember that the journey is all there ever is. Therefore we have to find some sense of peace and fun in the middle of the freelancing chaos. The self-confidence and feeling of accomplishment you get from overcoming the daily little struggles in freelance is worth it all. It feels so good to build something on your own.
Only the joy you get from what you do outweight the difficulties and the obstacles!
Still hesitant? Read “Start Before You Feel Read – 9 Reasons to go for it!” here!
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