You’re probably no stranger to New Year’s resolutions, but have you ever tried setting New Year’s resolutions to help progress your creative career?
Granted, New Year’s resolutions aren’t everyone’s cup of tea (they can be a little too goal-, as opposed to performance-focussed for some), and that’s OK. Personally, I like to set New Year’s intentions – a few behaviours and boundaries that I think will help me operate best in my business in the year that follows.
Keep scrolling to read the 4 New Year’s resolutions I think freelance and self-employed creatives should be setting in 2022.
4 New Year’s Resolutions to Make in 2022 if You’re a Freelance Creative
New Year’s resolution #1: I will no longer accept unpaid or below-rate work
It’s really easy, particularly when you’re just getting started as a freelance creative or when income is low, to accept unpaid or below-rate work. However, filling your time with work that doesn’t reflect your skills and experience is likely to lead to stress and feelings of resentment. Plus, if you’re overstretching yourself to complete below-rate projects that leave you feeling unvalued, you’re leaving yourself less time and less energy to seek more fulfilling and better-paid work.
Get comfortable asking for the amount you want to be paid and, during instances where clients do not have enough budget for your fee, negotiate on the deliverables (in other words: reduce the number of tasks to complete or the time commitment) – not the pay. If you aren’t sure where to start with setting your rate, sign up to my mailing list to receive 5 weeks of free advice on charging for your time as a freelance creative.
New Year’s resolution #2: I will increase my rate to reflect my skills and experience
Consider this your reminder to regularly review and raise your rate – even if you feel awkward about it.
The thought of increasing fees often fills freelancers with dread. What if the client declines the rise and you end up losing them as a result?
Truth is – that is a possibility. Most clients, however, will be accepting of incremental fee increases and will anticipate them as your partnership matures. If a client does push back, then you have to decide whether they’re the kind of person or team that you want to continue working with.
My best advice for increasing your fee is to raise it in line with your skills and experience. This means a standard increase of 5-10% year-on-year as you, naturally, gain more experience, and additional increases when you gain new skills and offer more services. Give your clients plenty of notice when you plan on increasing your fee, and perhaps consider giving long-standing clients a slightly smaller increase than new clients.
New Year’s resolution #3: I will prioritise my own wellbeing
If your wellbeing took a back seat in 2021, which I know it did for many, it’s time to restore balance.
We perform better at work when we’re well-rested and cared for and, frankly, we deserve to feel good. So, aim to find a few health and wellbeing rituals that help you to feel calm, centred, and refreshed, and schedule at least one every day. My favourites are pilates, reading, meditation, and taking time to savour a good cup of coffee.
And don’t forget to factor in rest, too. Resting helps to boost creativity and energy levels, meaning improved output and likely an increased feeling of fulfillment.
Schedule regular breaks from work – evenings away from a screen, random afternoons to spoil yourself, and bigger breaks to really refresh, and make sure you honour them (that means no cancelling your you-time when last-minute commissions come in, if you can help it).
Set an out of office and schedule social posts using a tool like Later in advance to allow yourself to really switch off.
New Year’s resolution #4: I will not compare myself or my career to others’
Comparing your journey to others’ will do nothing for your career progression – trust me.
Try to look to others for inspiration and timely reminders that if they can achieve their career goals, then so can you. Sometimes easier said than done, I know – so, if you struggle with comparison then it might be time to unfollow (or mute) certain people on socials for your own benefit (though, it’s worth bearing in mind that you probably only see 1% of someone’s life online – and it’s rarely the rejections, the stumbles, and the errors).
Remember that there are no time limits and that we’re all on our own – very unique – journeys, and that someone else’s success doesn’t diminish yours.