Are you looking for a new way of working? Tired of the old 9-5 routine and interfering bosses? Want to be in control of your future? Then go freelance!
- Why go freelance?
- Are you ready to go freelance?
- How much money can you make from freelancing?
- Getting started as a freelancer
- The secrets to successful freelancing
But what does it take to become a successful freelancer? ZenBusiness put all the answers into an informative infographic on everything you need to know about becoming a freelancer. It explains the benefits of freelancing, how to get started, and some top tips from freelancing experts.
Why go freelance?
Working freelance is about freedom. There’s no repetitive 9-5 routines, no Monday morning commutes, and no micromanaging supervisor peering over your shoulder every 5-minutes.
It’s about being in charge of your work and your life. Freelancers can spend more time with their families, juggle their profession with creative pursuits, or join the growing army of digital nomads traveling as they work.
Have you got what it takes to be a freelancer?
Freelancing is empowering and rewarding, both professionally and personally. But this unique way of working isn’t for everyone. In other words, you might have the skills to make a living freelancing, but have you got the mindset?
For example, freelancers are fiercely independent people who thrive on uncertainty. Often, freelancers aren’t entirely sure where the next paycheck is coming from. But that’s all part of the challenge, the thrill of being in complete control of your destiny.
Freelancers don’t have to be lone wolves. However, they’re comfortable in their own company and can work independently for long stretches. They’re excellent self-motivators who know how to plan a schedule and, more importantly, stick to it.
And they’ve got thick skin. In fact, it’s super thick! Freelancing in any industry is highly competitive. You’re up against thousands of highly skilled professionals who are all chasing the same jobs. Freelancers hear the word ‘no’ a lot, especially when they’re just starting out. But freelancers can handle rejection and criticism. And they learn from it too.
And you? Are you ready to go freelance? Work your way through this flowchart and find it out!
How much money can you make from freelancing?
Money is one of the biggest worries for anybody considering going freelance. After all, freelancer work can be irregular and unstable. What’s more, short-term freelance contracts don’t offer benefits or other employee protections, like a notice period. It means many freelancers are only ever a few emails away from having no work and no income.
But if you’ve got the right attitude and a marketable skill, then there’s no limit to your earning potential. And you could find yourself earning more money in less time. A recent report by professional consulting firm Eden McCallum found that 67% of freelancers make the same as their previously employed salaries while working fewer weeks.
Freelancing also removes many social, economic, and cultural barriers that contribute to the gender pay gap. Freelancing allows young mothers to continue working while raising small children. And there are no ‘old boy networking clubs’ in the freelancing world. Instead, it’s a space where the best person gets the job. And the number proves that. The Eden McCallum report highlights how freelancing reduces the pay disparity between men and women from 30% to just 3%.
Getting started as a freelancer
You’ve got the passion, the ambition, and the skillset. But what else do you need to get your freelancing career going?
#1 Get your finances in order
“Leap and the net will appear,” said the US naturalist and essay writer John Burroughs. It’s a lovely idea. But, unfortunately, posting inspiring quotes on Instagram won’t pay your rent during the lean times. So before you make the jump, make sure you’ve got a safety net in place. It could be some emergency savings to cover living expenses for a few months or a part-time regular job that brings in extra cash every week.
#2 Decide your schedule
Now it’s time to decide when you want to work. The same rule applies to early birds and night owls: create a schedule, then stick to it. Don’t forget to plan also some time for yourself.
Do the hardest task first and do it early. Not only will you get it out of the way, but you’ll feel energized. And everything after will feel so much easier.”Sujan Patel – co-founder of growth marketing agency Web Profits
#3 Set up social media profiles
Get those socials on point. Charlotte Davis is a careers expert at LinkedIn. She says, “social media is your biggest tool to sell yourself. You’ll probably have a portfolio of work at the ready but think about showing what else you’re doing. A quick snap of an event you’re attending shows you’re passionate about your work.”
#4 Get some clients
Before starting your freelancer career, make sure you get some clients in order not to loose your calm at the beginning. There are different ways you can land new projects: personal network, social media, self-marketing, freelancing websites. Having some first assignments will help you beginning without stress and worries.
#5 Start networking
Charlotte has another tip for new freelancers: get networking. Just try to meet as many people as possible. Because when you’re freelancing, every new connection is a potential client.
#6 Get some freelancing tools
As a freelance you often have to manage a lot of things at once: client acquisition, marketing, accounting, administration. Outsource some of your work to freelancing tools like Trello, a workflow tool that’s really easy to use. It tracks your jobs and sends helpful reminders when deadlines are approaching.
#7 Decide where you’re going to work
Let’s start with the obvious. You’ll need somewhere to work. Some people are happy sitting at the kitchen table with their laptop. But if you’re a social type who enjoys being around other people, think about hiring a hot desk at a coworking space. You can get a good deal for a few hundred bucks every month. Coffee shops and libraries are two budget-friendly alternatives.
#8 Decide your business structure
You’ll need to decide what business structure works best for you. You can operate as a sole trader, independent contractor, or set up a limited company. The best option depends on your clients, income, and the size of your business. Speak to a business manager or accountant for more advice.
The secrets to successful freelancing
Build trust with client
Freelancers need clients. But don’t waste your energy on the difficult or demanding ones. Instead, focus on building long-term working relationships with the clients that value what you do. Then ask them for testimonials to plaster all over your socials and website. It’s one of the best marketing tools to attract more clients. And you should always be looking for more clients. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a dangerous strategy for any freelancer.
Communication is key to any successful relationship. So make sure you and your clients are always on the same page. A quick email regarding a confusing line in a brief could save you weeks worth of work. At the same time, know when to switch off. It’s essential to draw a line between rest and work. Checking your emails right before bedtime is a surefire way to ruin a good night’s sleep.
Ask for a deposit
For longer projects, speak to clients about receiving your payment in installments. Or ask them for a deposit to secure your services. And never work for free. It eats up valuable time that could be used to find paid work. Plus, some unscrupulous clients use promises of trial periods and internships as a hook to catch inexperienced freelancers. Don’t take the bait.
Never stop learning
Stay up to date with changes in your industry. Log in to virtual seminars and watch industry-related podcasts. Keep a close eye on the biggest influencers in your sphere. But don’t just follow: engage. Liking, sharing, and commenting shows you’re active and enthusiastic. And get blogging. Blogs are an excellent way to share your thoughts, show off your work, and connect with potential clients.
Write about your work
Promoting yourself and your work is a great marketing tool that helps you enlarging your network. Add the project you have been working on to your portfolio, blog or website
Ask for testimonials
Let clients review your work and present their rates on social media, on your website or on freelancing platforms. Recommendations and word of mouth are powerful tools!
Freelancing isn’t a way of working. Instead, it’s a lifestyle for independent people who want to make great things happen for themselves. So are you ready to go free? It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.
You can download here the infographic of ZenBusiness:
Ashley Murphy graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. He began working as a freelance content writer in 2015. He specializes in technology, higher education, current affairs, the arts, and entrepreneurship.