Are you thinking about becoming a freelancer? Becoming a full-time freelancer can be a great way to make a living, but there can be lots of challenges along the way.
The Pros of Freelancing
• Be Your Own Boss! This is perhaps, one of the biggest perks of freelancing. You report to nobody but yourself and you’re ultimately in charge.
• Decide Your Own Hours. Flexible working hours are a glorious perk of being a freelancer. There are no boring 9-5, Mon-Fri requirements, which means you can achieve a greater work/life balance.
• Work Anywhere. Forget being stuck behind a desk all day! As a freelancer, you can work from home, from a café, from a hotel room or even the beach! All you need is a laptop and (usually) an Internet connection.
• Carve Your Own Career Path. There’s also plenty of career freedom in being a freelancer. You essentially decide which projects you want to take on – and which you don’t. There’s often little monotony and lots of variety.
• Make Your Industry Mark. It can be much easier to establish a strong reputation quickly and leave your mark on the industry as a freelancer, as opposed to being an employee for another brand/business.
• Higher Earnings. If you deliver quality work and manage to build up your customer base, it is possible to earn a high freelance income – more so than you might earn working for someone else’s company. You’re also the boss of how much you want to earn, so you can charge as much (or as little) as you like (within reason, of course)!
The Cons of Freelancing
• Downtime. Downtime can be relaxing, but remember: if there’s no work, you don’t get paid. This can be frustrating when you’ve got rent and bills to pay. Building a steady freelance business can take time, so you need to be prepared for lower income flows and also periods where you might earn little or nothing.
My Tip: Figure out how you will support yourself during quiet periods before you decide to freelance – could you save extra cash? Pick up a casual job?
• More Responsibility. Since you’re representing yourself (or your company), there can be much more responsibility involved as a freelancer. There may be times when you find yourself taking on a huge volume of projects, which can often mean longer hours and more accountability.
My Tip: Choose your projects carefully and remember, it’s your reputation on the line! Don’t take on too much at once, especially in the beginning.
• You Need Lots of Self-Discipline. If you can’t successfully motivate yourself on a daily basis, you might want to consider whether freelancing is for you. Lots of discipline is essential and you need to ensure you don’t get distracted with things like Facebook or laundry when you’re supposed to be working.
My Tip: Figure out what motivational exercises work for you! I keep it interesting by taking frequent breaks and working from different places (office, couch, café).
• No Benefits. Unlike being employed by a company, there are no employment benefits as a freelancer. You’ll need to work out your tax, super and even holiday/sick pay.
My Tip: You can combat this by building these costs into your prices. Do your research and ensure you have a good understanding of how much money you will need to make – undercharging at the start can set the bar too low and create significant problems later on.
• It’s Just You! Freelancing can be a lonely gig. You’re working by yourself all day, and often, there’s no one to rely on other than yourself.
My Tip: You do have to be self-sufficient, but you can balance this out by networking with valuable professionals and suppliers and staying in touch socially with friends and family.
• More Than Just What You Love. If you choose to freelance, you’re also choosing to run a business. You get to do what you love, but it also means you’ll be a client/account manager, administrator, bookkeeper, business developer and even a web developer. And you don’t get paid for any of it.
My Tip: The more freelance work you have or want, the more the above tasks can increase, so try and learn as much about operating a small business as you can.
Have You Got What It Takes?
• Am I a good self-motivator and can I discipline myself on a day-to-day basis?
• Do I love the idea of an ‘unstructured’ working model, where I select my own hours and choose my own projects?
• Where will I find work and projects? Am I prepared to do my own business development?
• How will I support myself when there are no projects available?
• Am I prepared to work harder or longer during busy times?
• Can I handle working alone every day?
Being a freelancer can be a great gig, and simply being prepared for the challenges is a great way to overcome some of those ‘cons.’