Simply put, freelancing is the act of identifying your skills, determining how marketable those skills may be, and then successfully finding ways to earn income with those skills. On one hand, freelancing means freedom! You are no longer tied to a cubicle, repetitive business hours, endless corporate meetings, office politics, and having to answer to “the man.” On the other hand, freelancing means considerable responsibility! When you freelance, you’re the employee and the boss! If, when, and how work gets done for your clients completely rests on your shoulders.
In order to determine whether freelancing is a wise course of action for you, consider the following:
- Assess your skill sets
Everyone has skills, but not all skills are marketable enough to ensure you’ll be able to obtain fairly consistent work. Consider the skills you utilize in your present (or past) jobs and ask yourself whether individual clients might pay you for your talents. Once you’ve compiled a list, do your research. Find out the market value of your skill set. What are people typically paying for the skills you have? Are your skills in demand?
- Consider the costs and income
According to a survey conducted by the independent research firm Edelman Berland, more than 53 million Americans engage in freelance work1 and, depending on your skills and your industry, many people can start a freelance business with minimal up-front costs. Your income and profits, however, can be quite inconsistent – especially when you first start out. It is important to consider your cash position and ensure that you have adequate savings to sustain yourself during the slow periods until you build consistent cash flow. There are also, of course, no built-in benefits. You’ll need to factor in the costs to maintain your health insurance, retirement investments, etc. As you build your reputation, you’ll have more opportunities to obtain new business, and to even charge more for it.
- Find your clients
When you freelance, there isn’t a company that automatically provides you with new clients. You’ll have to go out and fish for every client. Before you consider becoming a freelancer ask yourself: “How many prospective clients might be available to me?” Consider how much time you will need to allocate in your schedule to continually cultivate your pipeline to ensure future projects. Time is money, and one way to benefit from your office space is to work in a shared tenant facility where you have a built-in community of other professionals to network with.
- You’re the worker and the boss
When you freelance, you can choose your own clients and projects, when you want to work, and how you want to operate your business. You also, however, are responsible for choosing the right clients, getting the work done whenever it has to be done, and operating things successfully. Obtaining days off – and vacations – that are distraction-free can be difficult when you’re an independent freelancer. It’s hard to truly “get off the grid” when there’s no one to cover for you. You can tell your clients when you’ll be off, but it’s up to you – and only you – to make sure the work gets done when something comes up. One way to help maintain that critical work-life balance is to office in a Barrister location where many of your basic business needs are handled. By outsourcing many of the day to day administrative tasks to us, you gain more time to focus on your core business and spend your time doing the things you love.
- Be prepared to learn from your mistakes
Running your own business means you get to rejoice at each success you have! It also means you need to be prepared to make mistakes, and to have a process that allows you to learn from them. Some common mistakes are over-servicing or under-servicing your clients, failure to bill for your time correctly, failure to identify clients that are a good match for you and your business, and the inability to notice red flags or how to deal with conflict situations.
Being a freelancer involves many factors, and it’s important to address the ones that may be in play in your life before you consider freelancing. The freelance journey will definitely have its’ up and downs, but it can be an exciting and rewarding ride. When you freelance, you can finally be your own boss! Before you take the ride, however, make sure you know you’ll be a good one!