The concept of freelancing has been getting a lot of attention lately, with many pursuing it as a seemingly ‘perfect’ career option. Whether you’re a writer, designer or marketing consultant, freelancing can be tempting, and is often even more rewarding than a regular nine to five job. However, it can get tricky, and -contrary to how people perceive it- it’s no picnic.
If the idea of becoming a freelancer has been taunting you, then it might be time to give it a shot. But before you do, make sure you follow these simple tips so you can start the right way and be prepared to conquer your field.
You might think that the prospect of working from home is super easy compared to your hour-long commute to work, but that’s not necessarily true. Granted, it seems like a piece of cake to wake up, sit at your desk and get to work, but it requires more discipline than you’d imagine. When you’re home, you’re more likely to procrastinate. In fact, when there isn’t something urging you to leave the house, you might find yourself struggling to get out of bed.
To combat this, make it a habit to wake up early, shower and get dressed as if you’re going to the office. Then, sit at your desk (preferably outside your bedroom) and get to work as if you’re at the office for real –don’t accept personal calls, don’t get distracted by social media and pretend like you have a boss leering over your shoulder.
Invest in Yourself
Think about what you’ll need to kick-start your journey as a freelancer. Whether it’s a logo, a brand identity, a facebook page, or a portfolio, get to work on it and make it happen, because it might determine whether or not you get a new client.
As a freelancer, you can’t seek credibility behind a big corporate name, so you need to make your own name matter. Remember that your name is your brand.
Become Your Own Accountant
As a freelancer, your income is likely to come from several sources. Because of this, it can be really easy to lose track of how much you made and how much you spent. As a result, you’ll be missing out on valuable information, such as which clients are more profitable, how much your monthly income is, or how much you spend on work expenses.
Whether you’d like to use a mobile app or a simple excel sheet, one thing is for sure: you need to keep track of where your money’s coming from and where it’s going. You’d be surprised how some tasks pay better than others, or how you much you spend when you decide to use a café as your office for the day.
Even if your client is the most unorganized person in the world, you shouldn’t be. Remember, your name is your brand, so you need it to be associated with good things.
When you send an email to a client, write it properly –don’t just send them an attachment with a blank email. Label all your files properly and always follow up on your work. Ask them what they’d like you to do better and show that you care. Most importantly, don’t miss your deadlines! One mistake could cost you a potentially long-term client.
Speaking of long-term clients, you should know that working with them is the closest you’ll ever get to earning a stable income. While many projects will consist of one-time tasks, finding a client who regularly needs your services can make both of you very happy. They’ll have a go-to person for their tasks, while you’ll be guaranteeing a specific amount of money each month.
Now, these types of clients don’t just fall on your lap, so it’s up to you to ask the right questions. Ask them if they’d be interested in something long-term. Find out what they’re looking for and show them that you’re the solution. Make them see you as a problem solver, not a sales person.
Your brain can be your worst enemy, so pay attention. As a freelancer, you will go through periods when you’re completely swamped with work, as well as other periods when you literally wake up and have nothing to do.
During those quiet periods, it can be easy to panic and start applying to every single job imaginable (freelance or otherwise). But you need to learn how to calm yourself down and only apply for tasks you feel are relevant to you. Otherwise, you might find yourself stuck with ten “impulse clients” you never even wanted.
Understand Your Choice
Last, but not least, know what you’re sacrificing, and be prepared to handle it. No more official holidays, no more paid vacation days and no more stable salary every month. Once you’ve made peace with those things, you’ll be able to begin.
But if you spend every waking moment agonizing over what you’ve sacrificed, then perhaps it’s better for you to stay at your current job. Understand that freelancing isn’t for everyone.
Before you even think of starting a freelance career, do it in parallel with your day job for a few months. If you think you can stomach it, then be prepared to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly.