Are you bored of your nine-to-five routine? Would you like to ditch your current job and seek a full-time freelance career? Do you have the fear of the unknown, and the fear of failure is holding you back?
Going freelance is lucrative and rewarding in the long run. If you are a creative person, a typical 9-to-five routine may not be for you. However, you will have to work hard if you want to make a fortune out of it. Moreover, you’ll have to make some sacrifices to benefit in the long run.
If you’re indecisive about whether to go freelance, this checklist might be helpful for you. Make sure you read it well before you choose to freelance.
1. It Takes Time
Remember that finding a steady supply of freelance projects is time-bound. While the freelance economy is growing by manifold, building a successful freelance profile takes time. It’s not that you’ve got your first project, and now you’re ready to pay the bills.
To build a steady stream of clients, you need the experience to add up to your portfolio. A solid portfolio is the most important thing that warrants the opportunity to meet potential clients. When you’re just a beginner, experiences such as this may not be available. However, you should never follow the “fake it, until you make it” strategy. If you do so, chances are you’ll end up doing more harm than good.
While it’s also possible to find a good clientele right out of the box, it’s not always the case. If you want to land high-paying jobs, you have to be patient. It’s wiser to live off of your savings before you build a steady flow of work. You should be cautious about quitting your job if you don’t have savings.
2. You Need Self-Discipline
Having no one to answer to looks like an alluring aspect of going freelance. In reality, it’s a big adjustment you have to introduce to your life.
You have to make adjustments to how you live your day. It also requires you to set up working hours for yourself. If you find it difficult to be regular, you may not be able to meet deadlines.
When you’re freelancing, you also have to decide how much you want to earn. You also have to set your goals and strategies to achieve those goals. In addition, it’s up to you to decide about when you take vacations and days off.
When you are your own boss, you’re the only motivator for yourself. You have to keep a balance between being a workaholic and taking too much time off. On one side, you can overwork and get burned out. On the other hand, you have to resist the temptation of too much lassitude being lethargic.
If you’re an indecisive person, you may find it difficult to ask for a steep rate. It becomes more difficult when you’re used to someone else deciding how much you get paid.
While the benefits of going freelance outnumber its downsides, you’ve to exercise a great degree of control over yourself to leverage those benefits. If you’re a motivated person, going freelance should not be a problem for you.
The most important trait you need to have to be a successful freelancer is “conscientiousness.” You have to stick to your goals if you want to stand out and make hefty amounts of money as a freelancer.
3. It Involves Stress
Many people believe that freelancing is a stress-free career, but it’s far from true. So if you are a stress-averse person and think that going freelance is a way to stay away from stress, you are deluding yourself.
Indeed, you don’t have to deal with office politics and a dominant boss when you’re working as a freelancer. You can work from just about anywhere, but freelancing involves stressors of its own.
It’s not always easy to deal with clients. Some clients can prove as stressful and frustrating as an office boss. You need to have good communication skills to manage your clients and retain them. You also have to meet your deadlines. On the other hand, oftentimes you have to review your deliverables until your customers are pleased. Do you think you will survive this unless you have a good share of emotional intelligence?
Sometimes you find a little piece of work to do and sometimes you don’t have anything. These times are inevitable in a freelance career. When you find yourself in such a situation, you’re left wondering about how to pay the bills.
On the other hand, sometimes you have plenty of work to do in a short time. You have to do your work feverishly to meet the deadlines.
While freelancing frees one from traditional office life stressors, it comes with stressors of its own. You have to know its stressors and then prepare for them. It makes much more sense to anticipate the difficulties and then decide for yourself whether to go freelance or not, instead of stepping in freelancing and then leaving it.
4. Ebbs and Flows
As already discussed, in a freelance career, there are times when you’re snowed under the work and there are times when you keep staring at your computer screen in hope of a single project. This unpredictability of freelancing can be disturbing for you if you are used to receiving regular checks. However, in the long run, these ebbs and flows of a freelance career are averaged out.
The best thing to deal with this kind of situation is that you set aside money when the work is plentiful and easily available for the days when it becomes hard to come by. This way, you can defeat the inconsistency of your freelance career.
Another way to deal with this is to establish a source of passive income from the money earned through freelancing. If you have just one source of income, you’re just one step away from poverty. Try to build and automate a supplementary source of income for you. You should use your freelance career as a second source of income, and not as the first one.
5. You Need to be Flexible
The amount of work you receive to do is not the only thing that can fluctuate terribly and that you have to be prepared for. In most cases, you’ll have to adapt to the changing nature of projects you receive. You’ll have to do projects that are mostly related to your primary niche but can be completely unrelated as well. This requires a decent amount of flexibility and openness in personality.
If you are used to doing the same projects each day on your job, freelancing can be a nightmare for you. This is because, in freelancing, each client has different projects, different specifications, and different expectations.
Flexibility is a personality trait in psychology that is related to openness. If you’re a closed person, you may find it very hard to do a new project every time. The more the projects vary, the more the headache. We advise you to consider the element of flexibility seriously if you want to freelance for a longer time.
On the other hand, if you’re an open person, you will probably enjoy the ever-changing nature of projects. The more diverse they are, the more interesting they become.
6. Solo Career Path
If you’re an extroverted person, freelancing is not for you. There are no regular office items in your home office, nor is there a chance to turn to your co-workers and have a short talk about the weather in the city. If you have an erratic schedule or you’re a night stalker, freelancing can be your dream job. The same is true for introverts because they love being alone.
If you’re new to freelancing, this kind of environment can cause anxiety or even depression. However, you can easily overcome this by adopting little habits. You can take a break after a certain time and go out for a walk, schedule a coffee with a friend, or have some sports activity. Small breaks from the norm are necessary for your overall health and well-being. You should reflect upon social interaction to know whether it has decreased. You can increase your social interaction to stay good.
7. Legal Matters
Freelancers are treated as sole traders. This factor alone is responsible for several legal problems typically covered by employers in the permanent career path. However, you can set yourself up as a limited company to mitigate some of the risks involved in being a sole trader.
Creating a limited company is an attempt to separate you from the work you do. If a client sues you for whatever reasons, you can at least protect your income if you operate as a limited company.
It’s better to have a written agreement with your clients for larger projects, as it helps you to claim back money in case of non-payment.
8. You Need to be Firm Handed
You’ll always meet clients who check your limits. Some of them won’t pay you and will give lame excuses for that. Some of them will come up with impossible time limits. Keeping a firm hand in these cases is essential to keep your head above water. If you don’t learn to say “no,” freelancing is not a career path you should follow.
10. Organization is Important
Clients. Emails. Logins. Messages. Tax forms. Invoices. And whatnot?
Going freelance is like running a small business. When you’re a small business, you have to do a lot of paperwork and administrative tasks all by yourself. If you cannot afford an assistant for the small business you own, you’ve to become one.
You have to keep track of your freelance career. At the same time, you also have to keep things in order. All of that requires years and years of training. However, learning how to keep track of everything and keep things organized is not impossible. Though difficult at the beginning, you start tracking and organizing things on autopilot.
You have to purchase a file for your tax returns and insurance documents. It’s also better to invest in accounting software that manages your data and creates beautiful invoices for your clients. Creating folders in your email is another way to deal with issues on priority. Using a smart calendar is another important measure to stay ahead of deadlines.
Getting things in order helps you be more productive. If you have a track of everything, at least half of your anxiety is gone. Most freelancers find it hard to stay organized, so you have an advantage over others if you keep things organized and stay away from chaos.
Freelancing is a lucrative career path but it comes with its own stressors. If you want to have a successful freelance career, you should know how to deal with these stressors. If you try to overcome these challenges and prepare for them, your chances of success will become manifold.