By Caroline Vazzana
If you told me five years ago that I’d be leaving my editing job at a well-known fashion magazine to be a full-time freelancer, I would have said you were crazy. All my life I wanted to be a fashion editor: I landed internships, read every fashion magazine I could find, and when graduation came, I landed a job immediately at Teen Vogue. I was living the dream. Now, after living that dream for several years, I’ve seen the industry change. I’ve seen friends get laid off and magazine staffs shrink to numbers we didn’t think were possible. I’ve come to realize that being adaptable is key, and freelancing, if you’re willing to hustle, can actually be just as rewarding as the full-time fashion editor life I had always imagined. Taking the plunge into full-time self-employment wasn’t easy, but it’s been one of the most exciting moments of my career, so far. If you’re thinking about making the switch to self-employment, here are some things I wish I had known beforehand.
Discussing money is awkward. Negotiating budgets and invoicing editors are things I’m now faced with on a regular basis. At first, naming your price can be uncomfortable, but it’s so important to know your worth. This is your livelihood now, so don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Remember: No one else has your back more than you do. The more often you do it, the easier it will be to fight for what you deserve.
Make a schedule that works for you. You don’t have to work a nine-to-five schedule to be a successful freelancer. Work when you feel most inspired (even if that means you do your best work at two in the morning!). That’s the beauty if being your own boss! That said, be sure to stay super-organized. You set your own deadlines now. I use my calendar app on my iPhone and schedule absolutely everything. It helps me to stay proactive and make sure I get things done.
Create a productive space in your home. My best work often happens in the comfort of my own home, so as soon as I began freelancing, I made it a priority to create a good work environment. That meant investing in a desk and decorating it with my favorite books and miscellaneous items that help inspire and motivate me to be creative.
Keep track of your pay. There’s no more weekly or bi-weekly paycheck being deposited into your account. You now have to keep track of the jobs you’re doing, how much you’re being paid and when you’re being paid. I’ve created a spreadsheet where I log every job I take on, the amount I’m supposed to receive for that job and the date I receive the paycheck on. This way, if it seems like money is missing, I’ll know who I need to talk to. Logging my jobs also makes it easier when I need to do my taxes!
Find your support system. When you’re working for yourself, and by yourself, you might start to feel lonely. When this happens, reach out to other freelancers and create a network. Set up weekly work sessions so you have some sort of regular schedule in your life. And finally, surround yourself with friends and family who support your decision to go freelance.
Caroline Vazzana is a fashion writer, editor, and stylist living and working in her hometown of New York. She began her career in the industry working with Anna Sui and has since gone on to spend time at Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and InStyle. She has collaborated with designers from Betsey Johnson to Diane Von Furstenberg, and has styled celebrities for red carpets including the MTV Video Music Awards and Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Caroline is currently the Founder & Creative Director of MakingManhattan.com where she hopes to shed light on the industry to the future fashion generation. Make sure to follow her everywhere @cvazzana for an inside look into her day to day in NYC.