A collage of freelancers Wethos interviewed this year sharing their freelance lessons.

4 Lessons We Learned From Freelancers in 2022

Thinking of taking the leap into freelancing? You’re not alone.

39% of the entire U.S. workforce freelanced in 2022, and the freelance industry is expected to continue to grow at a rapid rate. With the growth of the industry comes the need for freelance-specific career guidance, which is why Wethos hosts an IG Live interview series called The Leap

For this series, Wethos CEO Rachel Renock sits down with entrepreneurs who took the leap toward working independently or starting their own projects. 

We had the chance to speak to many entrepreneurs who made the leap into freelancing, whether by choice or by chance. And from all of these conversations, we learned a lot about what it takes to run your own freelance business in 2022 and beyond. 

Here are 4 lessons we’re taking with us into the year ahead.

Freelance Lesson #1: Get started before you’re ready

As more people make the leap into freelancing, only some do so by choice. Corporate layoffs have been more frequent in the last couple of years and have forced people into independent work — maybe sooner than they were ready. But whether or not you’re at a point where you feel prepared to start your freelance business, one of the biggest lessons we learned this year is to do it anyway. 

“Everybody’s scared whenever they get started — everybody feels like they don’t know what they’re doing or they’re not qualified,” said Bailey Thibodeaux, founder and designer behind Honeywave Creative. As Thibodeux shared in our conversation, she started her design studio straight out of school without any prior experience in-house or at an agency. Her advice for anyone looking to make the leap like she did is to just do it. 

“The only way you’re going to get the experience is by doing it. You can watch YouTube videos all day long, but if you don’t ever take that action, it’s never going to happen. You’re just going to watch everybody else start these businesses and you’re going to be like, ‘man, I wish that was me.’ But you just need to take action — take the first step and you’ll learn as you go.”

Another perspective on this lesson comes from Alex Fasulo, AKA The Freelance Fairy. She shared in her episode of The Leap that it’s okay not to have everything figured out from the start. Be open to exploring different offerings, industries, or services until you find the right fit for your freelance business.

“I always say to people, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to have this perfect plan in place,” said Fasulo. “It’s okay to try out a bunch of different side hustles. I really think freelancing is something that can welcome so many different types of workers and personalities.”

Freelance Lesson #2: When it comes to money, get out of your own way

In our final episode of The Leap for 2022, Wethos’ CEO Rachel Renock sat down with Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First $100K and author of Financial Feminist. Throughout the conversation, Dunlap shared insights into the financial inequality women and other marginalized groups are faced with and how to fight it. One of those solutions is to start by addressing our internal thoughts about money. 

“Money is emotional. It’s psychological. And so many of these narratives are actively holding us back from pursuing wealth just because we’ve been conditioned to believe them.” Her top tip for freelancers? “Ask ‘what is your budget?’ all of the time, she said. “As opposed to giving your rates, ask what the budget is. Because a bunch of people will want to pay you more than you realize, and you don’t want to undercut yourself.”

Demetri Morris, founder of the creative agency, MORR, expanded on this further in his episode of The Leap.

“Pricing is very much a mental thing. I think once you start to break down what you’re really doing for a client and what the true value is for them in the long-term, you kinda have to figure out, is this going to be a good return on investment? And then scale your numbers from there.” 

He adds, “As a freelancer, in order to move outside of that mindset, you have to take leaps every time you get opportunities and just start charging $2,000 more for each client. Otherwise, you will stay in a lane where you’re trading your time for money, and ideally, as an agency owner, you need to be continuously focused on the bigger vision. Otherwise, you’re literally a high-paid employee at a cool company.”

Freelance Lesson #3: Know your value

When you’re your own boss, you have to look out for yourself. No one else is going to look out for you or know your value in the same way you do. Know your worth and know your value if you want to earn more, do work you love, and work with clients who respect your boundaries, pricing, and expertise. 

Freelance copywriter Melissa Yap underscored this lesson when she shared this advice during her episode of The Leap

Understanding your worth and what you can bring to the table is key,” she said. “Because if you don’t, then clients will walk all over you. So that’s probably the number one [tip] — just understanding your value and not being afraid to say no if something’s not the right fit. Because something better will always come along.”

Freelance Lesson #4: Your business is yours, not anyone else’s

At the end of the day, whether you carefully grow your freelance business from a side hustle or make the leap after leaving your corporate 9-5, your business is yours. 

Yes, other freelancers and entrepreneurs can show you the ropes or share what works for their business. But take that advice with a grain of salt. Do what works for your business and lifestyle because your business is yours and yours alone. 

“Study the great companies, study the great people and the innovators out here, and follow their steps. Filter out what doesn’t make sense for you and apply what’s applicable,” said Khaleel Loyd, the co-founder and executive producer of Loyd Visuals. “I think that once you get outside of your head and you have a vision, and you have a goal that you want to execute on, do not over-complicate it.”

Lola Adewuya, the founder of The Brand Doula, shared a similar perspective on this lesson during her episode of The Leap. “Don’t get distracted by those vanity metrics or people touting high prices and certain clientele,” she said. “It’s most important that you are really crafting a service and amazing experience for the people that you are serving. Your competitors are not your customers. Focus on what’s going to be that product market fit idea, and focus on creating that service and refining your journey and making the best possible service that you can for the niche that you’ve decided to be in.”

Thinking of making the leap?