Freelancing – What You Need to Know
With more and more people choosing to do freelance work, sometimes it can seem like it’s the ‘easy’ way out – after all, you won’t be micromanaged by your boss and not have to deal with office politics or those horrible clients thrown at you.
However – that’s still not entirely true. You’re going to have to be your own boss, which is sometimes easier said than done and most certainly will have to deal with a few nasty clients thrown into the mix.
So what should you consider when you’re thinking about freelancing for the first time?
What kind of work environment do you enjoy?
Are you the kind of person who thrives in a busy environment, with lots of people with whom to bounce ideas off?
If you are, then freelancing is probably not right for you – sure, there are plenty of networking opportunities that you can attend, but these people usually won’t be sat down next to you or necessarily available on the phone for a brainstorming session.
To be a successful freelancer, you’ve got to be able to work alone – and enjoy it.
How will you survive, moneywise?
This is a big one – the biggest issue that many freelancers (or any startup business) can run into is cashflow, i.e. running out. Securing clients and building up relationships with them takes time – you can’t expect to quit one day and have a line of willing clients lining up around the block the next morning.
You need to make sure you have some cash set aside for when you first get started, so you can give yourself a fair chance. Otherwise, you’ll end up worrying about where the next cheque will come from and will be tempted to give a call to the office you’ve just left to see if your job is still available…
One idea could be to start freelancing on the side of your main job, to save up some extra cash . That way, you can start building up that first important relationship with a client and test how much you can earn. You’ll also have a lot more realistic expectations when you start freelancing full-time.
Do you have the right personality traits?
Freelancing takes organisation and drive. You’re not going to have a boss to set deadlines and check up on you throughout the process – this time, it’s down to you. If organisation has never been your strong suit, then you need to seriously consider whether you will be strong enough to set and meet your own deadlines. After all, a missed deadline is not going to equal a happy client. And that unhappy client is certainly not going to refer you to her friends for more gigs.
You need to be honest with yourself and assess where your weaknesses and strengths lie – and how that will affect your freelancing career. If you prefer leaving everything to the last minute to give you the motivation to hit that deadline, it could work for the first few months – but ultimately you could risk getting burnout, with too many sleepless nights and too much stress.
Freelancing is a great career option – but ultimately, doesn’t suit everyone. For those who enjoy the freelancing lifestyle, there are plenty of perks: the freedom to choose your own schedule, to take time to play, to wonder and wander. Just make sure that you choose it because it’s right for you!
Have you taken the plunge into freelancing? What else should AWE-ers consider?