Do you wish to quit your nine to five job and get into freelancing? Are you finding it really difficult to make up your mind whether it’ll be a wise decision?
Let me tell you, you’re not alone. There are many out there who are going through the same dilemma.
Freelance lifestyle seems to be really lucrative. And that explains why freelancers represent about 35% of the global workforce.
Well, to an individual who has never freelanced before, this seems to be like an ideal world where you can wake up well past the morning hours, work on all things you love and that too in your pajamas without having to get up from your bed, get paid – a lot, and more.
Ofcourse, there is a great deal of truth in it, but it’s not all hunky-dory as it appears to be.
Before you get into freelancing, you need to consider a few things (in fact more than a few) just to ensure you’re treading on the right path. Most of your success will still be built on mistakes and failures when starting out. And that is okay!
10 Things to Consider Before You Become A Freelancer:
Understand the ‘why’ of becoming a freelancer
Without the fear of being judged, understand why you want to become a freelancer.
It could be any of the following reasons – want to become your own boss, avoid nasty office politics, you can work from anywhere, you can choose what you want to work on versus being assigned to something that doesn’t appeal to you, you can earn more than what your 9-5 job offered you, you believe you’ll have greater job security, you’ll learn more than you ever thought it was possible – all of these are valid reasons and you’ve the right to make your own decision.
Understand the why before you take the plunge. Things may not always happen as planned and you’ve to be prepared for that.
Stand up for yourself when the situation demands
Let’s admit as long as you were doing a 9-5 job, you had set boundaries for yourself. If you were working for a large organization, you already had different teams to handle everything.
However, when you choose to become a freelancer, you need to take care of every aspect of your work – you need to play every role possible, that of sales, finance, HR, marketing, designer, developer, and the list goes on.
And in certain scenarios, clients do take advantage of those they hire. There are many instances where freelancers are expected or asked to rework on a project for free because the client believed they didn’t understand the requirements completely. The freelancers take that on face value and agree to redo the project for free, often believing that a negative review can impact their market reputation and leave them without work.
Keep looking for new clients
Freelancers are always looking to add new clients in their kitty. But remember one full month of work doesn’t really guarantee full work for the next month. The best way to go about it is to set aside sometime in the week (preferably a weekday) to bid for new jobs and explore other channels to look for new opportunities.
This not only gives you a chance to be better prepared when you suddenly lose a client but also helps you to discover opportunities and areas that you’re passionate about rather than working on every project that comes your way just to meet the monthly income goal.
Another thing to note here is that keep working on varied projects. The more you work, the more samples you’ll be able to accumulate and that’ll help you find regular clients and opportunities. Soon you’ll see that the snowball effect does most of the client or job hunting work for you. But at the end, it’ll still be you who need to turn that opportunity into a real-time project.
Have a dedicated workspace
As fancy the term “freelancing” sounds and images of fascinating places appear before you, remember this is a job that needs to be taken seriously. It may not be your regular 9-5, but still there are clients, projects, commitments, timelines involved in it. Have a designated corner as your workspace to work on your projects.
Reputed or noted freelancers can definitely choose to have a home office but for newbies, any quiet corner of the house will do. Some freelancers also chose to work from a local or a nearby cafe. Having a change in work environment and sipping over steaming hot beverages while working on a fresh story or project may work wonders.
Create two saving funds
What usually happens when you’ve a 9-5 lifestyle, you get your salary and some part of it goes into the savings fund and the rest you can use for your daily expenditures. But the freelancers face a peculiar financial concern at times.
As sweet as the fruits of a freelance lifestyle sounds, things may not always work in your favor. This is not to discourage you, but the freelance world works like this. Some months you’ll have more work that you can handle and some months could be really dry.
It’s always recommended that you work extremely hard during the months when you’ve sufficient work and plenty of opportunities to earn. Create two saving funds. The first one will help you navigate through real-time emergencies and another one to get through months where you do not have enough work.
Ask your clients to pay for any extras
This again takes us back to Point #2 Stand up for yourself
You’ve to be really careful when doing business with clients who take you for granted. Make sure you ask them to pay for all the extra work beyond the initial agreement (which may include one round of modifications free of cost) even if that involves making some editorial changes or changing a few shades/colors.
Going back and reworking on something which is not incorrect but you’ve to do just because the client fancies it to be reflecting his brand better, needs to be compensated accordingly and cannot be demanded from free just because you’re a freelancer.
Persistence is key to success
You’re no Midas and you’ll surely not be blessed by Dionysus, the Greek god, who will grant you the boon that whatever you touch will turn into gold. Keep your priorities focused when you enter into the world of freelancing.
Things take time and you’ve to be persistent with your efforts and pitches. If you think that a particular pitch didn’t work the way you imagined it to work, change it the next time when you pitch to the same client or one from a similar industry.
A word of caution – irrespective of the job you’re doing, get your freelancing contracts in place before you start work on the project. There are several contract templates available online, choose the one that perfectly suits your requirements.
No portfolio, no work
In the world of freelance, having a relevant portfolio is a must. Unlike most 9-5 jobs, having a resume and appearing for a technical interview doesn’t make the cut. Of course you need to have those too, but an impressive portfolio which displays substantial work samples and an organized thought flow makes the cut more often than not.
If you’re a creative designer, you can use online portfolio platforms like, Behance, Dribble, Adobe, etc.
Determine what your pricing structure should look like
Freelancing rates differ from one industry to another by geography, experience, skillset, and more.
Of course there is no fixed rule to come up with a fixed pricing for your skillset, but you should keep few things in mind:
- What was your pay rate for the same day job (take into account the additional perks like paid time off, health insurance, retirement benefits, etc.)
- Whether you want to work on a fixed pay project or hourly
- Avoid accepting jobs that offer lower pay just to make sure you’ve enough work
Have a backup plan
Having a backup plan in case things absolutely do not work is a must, especially when you’ve a family to take care of and bills to pay.
Understanding the highs and lows of this trade will definitely help you put in consistent efforts. But even then to have an idea what you’ll do if things get worse and you do not end up getting enough work will be helpful. And above all, how much time you’re willing to give to yourself for things to work or make a decision to quit and return to your full-time job or another other opportunity.
Bonus: Learn How to Delegate
Learning how and when to ask for help is one of the most important skills any freelancer could have. As much as you’d like to do everything and anything for a client, you need to learn the importance of letting someone or something else help you. Either if it is with the help of technology (for example an audio to text converter software) or another human being (for example a virtual assistant).
Now you may ask if switching to freelancing will be a smart choice. That’ll completely be up to you.
Before you step into this world, you should know that life isn’t all about waking up late and working in your comfortable pyjamas. Of course, you get to do all of that but you need to consider the other aspects of living a freelance life too – working extra hours to complete a project on time and waiting for a few months before a client pays you (let’s just assume here that the client is lazy) besides other things.
Again not to demotivate you here, but have a realistic idea of whether the grass on the other side is actually greener than where you’re current and then decide for yourself.
The world of freelancing is how you take it to be – it could either be a never-ending struggle or everything you ever wanted from life.
Good luck with your freelancing career!