Freelancing offers up the great opportunity to work flexible hours while following your passion. The many internet success stories show that freelancing can be both liberating and psychologically rewarding.
Goodbye having to create creative resume designs, hello freedom!
However, building a freelance career is not without its anxieties. As a freelancer, you will need to build your client base, provide your own income and expand your business on your own. There are no guarantees and your business may not grow as quickly as you expect it to.
Although freelancing is a great career opportunity, it will require careful thought and planning. Here are some tips which will enable you to make a smooth transition towards a freelance career.
Ensure that you have a financial plan waiting for you.
Before you quit your day job, you’ll need a business plan for your newly emerging freelance career. This means exploring where you can find clients as well as both your projected income and expenses as a freelancer.
Before you freelance, try to ensure that you will have a financial buffer so that you will be able to cope during times of financial pressure. As a freelancer, your income may be unpredictable. You may also have repairs or unexpected industry expenses to take care of. Added to this are unexpected personal expenses (such as a medical emergency). By creating a financial buffer, you will ensure that financial stressors or pressures don’t overwhelm you while you are finding your feet as a freelancer.
Create a home office
As a freelancer, you will be working from home. Although this can seem like a tremendous benefit, it can also prove to be very distracting.
By creating a home office, you will be able to work quietly while all that you need remains in reach. Try to stick to office hours if you can. Although your time is your own, you will do best if you keep regular working hours. This will help you maximize your productivity.
Establish the income you need to survive
When you work with a guaranteed paycheck, you’ll use whatever income you make to pay for your expenses. However, you may not have thought about it that deeply. Many people rely on their next paycheck to get by. As a freelancer, you won’t have this option.
If you want to maintain your current standard of living, you will need to establish how much you need to do this. You may also be aware of areas where you can cut your expenses (should you wish to). Work out how much you will need every month to pay for your basic needs as well as set up a savings fund.
Start a savings fund to assist with cash flow
As a freelancer, you can’t simply rely on your paycheck arriving on time. In addition, you’ll often start by creating expenses rather than income. Internet data, telephone calls and transport to client meetings all cost money before you begin to earn an income.
Jobs you’ve scheduled may be delayed. Some clients can no longer afford to work on a project. When your project has been completed, you may face payment delays.
Many businesses close down because of cash flow difficulties. Instead of running up huge credit debts, it will help to start with a savings fund. This will take pressure off you during tough times and you will be able to add to it when your work runs smoothly.
Think like a freelancer when working out your rates
Although it’s tempting to work out your freelance rates according to your current income per hour, remember that you will be in a different position as a freelancer. As a freelancer, your hours will not be guaranteed, your salary will not be guaranteed, and you’ll need to build in money for sick days, leave and any benefits you might be receiving in your current salaried position.
As a freelancer, you will be offered short-term employment. This will be beneficial to you because it means that your employer will be more willing to pay for a one-off expense. It will also place you at greater risk because you do not know when your next client will employ you. As a result, you will need to (and be able to) charge more as a freelancer than as a paid employee.
Start to establish your first client base while you are still working
Once you have quit your job, you will be without income. Starting off as a freelancer with no opportunity in sight, and therefore no way of paying your bills will place you under huge pressure. Instead of planning out your freelance career and then quitting your job, begin by seeking out clients first.
Start by networking or approaching people you already know for work opportunities. Let people know what you do and share your rates. You could also speak to your current employer and offer up your skills as a consultant or freelancer. If they are happy with your work, you may have found your very first client.
As a freelancer, you’ll often be putting in long hours
Although the opportunity to work from home may be very appealing, you’ll need to work very long hours as a freelancer. Building up your client base means offering an excellent service at all times. Many freelancers work evenings and often weekends along with their regular work shifts.
When you work for yourself, you’re responsible for the results you create. If you don’t work, nobody else will do it for you. If working extremely long hours to establish your business doesn’t appeal to you, you might not be ready to start a freelance career just yet.
Learn your limits
As a new freelancer, you’ll often take on a range of work. Some of this work will be enjoyable, while some will not be. You might take on a range of different opportunities simply just to pay the bills. As mentioned above, some of this work will be completed outside of regular office hours.
While you are freelancing, accepting work of all varieties is generally positive. It gives you the opportunity to build your client base, bring in an income and gain experience. However, there are some projects which may be more hassle than they are worth. As a freelancer, you’ll need to learn your limits. This will help you to establish when to turn a project down. The following questions will assist you to work out whether or not a project is for you:
- Will the work provide you with the income you need?
- Will the work give you the experience you need or help you to build your client base?
- Is the work interesting and will it develop you as a freelancer?
- Do you need the work (will you be able to pay your bills without it)?
- Will you be able to fit this work into your current schedule?
Use these questions as your guideline. They will help you to find work that is most suitable for you as a growing freelancer seeking to develop your practice.
Starting a freelance business can be tough. It can, however, be very rewarding. For many, it is worth taking the freelance risk. At the very worst you will go through a dry patch and need to seek out employment again.
However, the satisfaction which comes from freelancing can be rewarding to a great many people.
By following the pointers above, you will have a greater chance of creating a success out of your freelance business. This will assist you to find work you love without the constant pressure which can demoralize many a freelancer.
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