Not everyone is made to work day in and day out for one employer. The reasons are many. For instance, it may be that you’re an artistic type who likes to create from your core.
Or you may be all business, but you’ve always had a tough time with authority. In fact, time and again in various workplaces, you believe, you’ve always had more right answers or better business instincts than your bosses.
Or it could simply be that you get bored easily. Doing the same job day after day leaves you antsy. You just can’t take it.
There are places in the world of work for people like these. One of these places is freelancing.
Merriam-Webster defines a freelancer as “a person who acts independently without being affiliated with or authorized by an organization.”
If you recognize your work style or way of being in one of the three examples above or simply know you’re not the type to work for someone else—and you think you have what it takes to work all on your own—then freelancing may be for you.
Here, we’ll explore some of what it takes to freelance.
- You’ve got to love adventure and have guts. Freelancing is not for people for whom being financially secure is a top goal. When you freelance, you may not know when your next paycheck is coming. From one work assignment to the next is an adventure in the unknown. It takes guts to branch out on your own into the freelance world.
- Patience. If you’re like most people, you won’t build your freelance clientele right away. It will take time. In fact, for this very reason, I recommend that most people try to stick it out in a regular work environment for at least a few years before going solo. Why? One reason is because you can start building your clientele from the people you meet in your traditional job.
- Money. I highly recommend that you build a savings account that can get you through at least a year of paying living expenses before you strike out to freelance. That’s another reason I recommend you hold a traditional job for a while at first. It’s extremely likely you’ll have to rely on that money you socked away, especially in the first years of working for yourself, to pay for basic expenses. While establishing yourself, don’t spend your money on anything extravagant that’s unnecessary. Having the latest designer outfit is not as important as eating or putting gas in your car. In fact, you may need to sell some of your old threads and other possessions to get through your first few years working on your own. Be prepared to make some sacrifices.
- Building relationships. You may want to freelance because you’re not a people person, but let me tell you, if you don’t know how to work with people, you won’t be freelancing for long. You’ll need to learn how to build and nurture relationships in order to establish a viable, loyal clientele. If you’re bad at the people piece, it’s time to check out some self-help books or get coaching to help you along.
- Knowing your worth. When you’re just establishing yourself in the freelance world, you may need to accept pay that’s much lower than what you would earn in a typical work environment. But at some point, and especially if you can’t live on that pay, you’ll need to seek assignments and charge rates that will keep your mortgage paid and allow you to buy a few silly things that make you happy. Research typical rates freelancers charge for the services you offer, and aim to offer competitive rates.
- A good CPA. I can’t stress this enough: Hire a CPA (certified public accountant) to help you with your tax forms. Many times it’s helpful to have a highly qualified tax professional help you because they’ll probably know of deductions you can take that will lower your tax bill. When you’re freelancing, you need to keep as much of your money as you can.
- Friends, family, and clients. If you’re fortunate, your friends, family, and satisfied clients will put the word out on the street, in social media, and in professional circles that you’re THE ONE to hire. These referrals will help you build your business.
- A website. Speaking of getting the word out, you should also put up a professional website. Use this valuable web real estate to advertise your services, post client testimonials, tell people who you are, and provide a way for people to contact you.
There’s a lot more to freelancing than what I could touch on in this short blog, but if, after having read this, you think you have what it takes to freelance, I say, do your homework and “Go for it!”