For a lot of people, there’s no fantasy greater than being able to walk out of the office, tell their boss what they really think of them, and go and work for themselves. However, for a lot of people, fantasy is how it stays. Sure, the internet has made it far easier for people to become freelancers but the truth is that it still comes with a whole host of different challenges that you have to face up to. The last thing you want is to try and get out on your own before you’re ready and end up falling flat on your face. Sure, the positive aspects of being a freelancer are amazing, but if you ignore the difficult side of things, then you’re never going to be able to find any success. With that in mind, here are some of the most important things to think about when you’re considering becoming a freelancer.
One of the hardest things about becoming a freelancer is actually getting started in the first place. Sure, you might have big dreams of earning money as a free agent, but everyone’s got to start somewhere. This means that you need to figure out how to present yourself in such a way that the modern business world is going to take you seriously. The best way to do this is to create a professional looking website. Services like Squarespace or Wix are fantastic for creating great looking websites without needing to know any code at all. You also need to be sure that your social media presence is as professional as possible. Sure, you might have personal accounts, but it’s a good idea to have professional accounts that steer clear of anything that might put people off hiring you.
Of course, once you’ve got your presence as a professional freelancer set up, you’ve got to go about actually finding work. This can often be the biggest stumbling block since many people first starting out just don’t know where to begin. The best place to start looking is almost certainly online. There are plenty of sites like UpWork than can connect freelancers with clients for both one of jobs and longer-term contracts. The other way of finding work that’s very effective is that dreaded word: networking. Being able to talk to people and sell yourself effectively can be pretty difficult a lot of the time, but if you get the hang of it, then you’re going to be able to make incredibly valuable connections that will carry you forward well into the future.
Of course, finding people who want to hire you is one thing, actually getting those people to pay you for the work you do is something else entirely. Sure, in an ideal world people will be more than happy to pay you for the work that you do but the truth is that not all businesses are quite as well-meaning or honest as they should be. If that’s the case, then you may need to invest in some legal representation. Of course, it might not even be something so significant that stops you getting paid. If you’re not able to provide clients with clear and well-formatted invoices, then it’s going to be a lot more difficult than it needs to be to get paid for your work. Using something like a proforma invoice template can save you a huge amount of time and make life a whole lot easier for everyone when it comes to trying to get you the money that you deserve.
One thing about freelancing that you should never forget is that if you’re not working, then you’re not earning. When you work for someone else, then you’re paid for the hours that you spend in the office, even if you’re not all that productive, and you get sick and holiday pay. Those things are not available for you as a freelancer and every moment you spend no working it money that you’re missing out on. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should spend all of your time obsessively working, but rather that you should be as disciplined as possible when it comes to your working hours. Sure, the idea of getting up at noon and working in your pyjamas all day long might seem great, but it’s not really the most effective working method that there is. It’s much better to set yourself a strict timetable that you have to follow and create a space where you can work productively. That way you can be sure that you’re working enough to earn a living, but that you’re not eating into time that you should be spending on yourself.
Paying your expenses
The other thing that people often forget when going from employment to freelancing is that the suddenly have to worry about doing their own tax returns. When you’re employed by someone else, they take care of that for you, but it’s something that you have to remember when working for yourself. If you don’t set aside the money that you need throughout the year and then fill out your tax return on time, you’re almost certainly going to end up in a pretty unpleasant position on both a legal and financial level. Combine that with the fact that there may well be business expenses that you have to account for, and if you’re not careful with your money, then you could end up earning a lot less than you thought.
Now, don’t let any of this seem as though it’s trying to discourage you from actually becoming a freelancer, far from it. But if you try and jump into the world of freelancing without properly considering the kinds of difficulties and challenges that you might face, you’re going to end up making your life far more difficult than it needs to be. Becoming a freelancer can be one of the most rewarding things that you ever do, but if you’re not ready to deal with the reality of what it’s actually like, then you’re doomed to fail from the very start.