What You Should Know About Going Freelance

by Alyx Carolus

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Working 9 to 5 is a way to make a living, but it’s not the only way to earn a living or build a career. Going freelance can be a daunting task, but in 2019 it’s a popular option when the rigid office life is no longer for you. Plus, the traditional workplace setting is considered dated and not useful. We’re all on the go, we want more time to do things we love and for some, the office life just isn’t the right fit. More people are considering being their own boss. 

This year, HR Magazine reported that over 50% of workers are set to go freelance by 2020. 

Pursuing a Freelance Career after a 9 to 5

About three months ago, I made the decision to go full-time freelance. But if you told me a year ago, that this is something I would do, I wouldn’t have believed you. Office environments can be rife with sexism, racism, and underlying bigotry that hampers career growth, especially for women of color. 

And when your life changes, your needs change. Parents want flexible hours, the ability to pick up their children from work or if you struggle with chronic illness, working from home might be the best option. But the anxiety about being responsible for your earnings can be daunting. Freelancers can chat about not being able to find enough work, payment being late, and having financial issues. But being prepared and having as much information as possible is the best way to make a big life decision. 

 

Get insight from your network

If you’re thinking about going freelance, start putting feelers out in your industry. Ask friends, former colleagues, and other freelancers about their experiences in starting out. There’s valuable information that you can get from other people. Compile a list of questions that you may have, especially if there are feelings of anxiety around what to expect. You’ll be taking a leap regardless and without fail, you’ll learn lessons along the way. But you can get some insight from those who have already walked the path you’re trying to be on. 

 

Get your money right

Cash. Money. Dollars. Capitalism isn’t great, but we all need money to live and we all need credit records. Author and  fellow freelancer, Cayleigh Bright shares her experience, saying, “Going into debt runs counter to everything that you’ve ever been told about good financial planning, but keep in mind that once you don’t have payslips – getting any credit will be a difficult journey.”

This is a time to get a handle on your finances – figure out exactly how much you’re spending and what you’ll need to live. It requires being honest with yourself, understanding patterns and knowing what you can trim from your lifestyle. If money is tight, you need to know that you’ll be able to adjust.  Before I resigned from full-time employment – I saved up three months living expenses, got a credit card, and paid up all my small debt (account cards – which I used to boost my credit record). I also trimmed my expenses and got rid of things I really didn’t need. Prior to this leap, I also spent a solid three months unpacking my spending habits. I skimmed through bank statements figuring out what my unnecessary expenses were and how to combat unhealthy spending. 

 

Start building up clients

Once you’ve made your decision and made sure your finances in order – start thinking about finding clients. And this will be a test of your ability to put yourself out there. You’ll need to learn how to promote yourself – and once you do it’s best to have an official email address and a website with updated details so people can find your services online. You’ll have to be prepared to do a bit of self-promotion so that you can build a profile and people actually know about what you can do. 

And once the work comes in? Get a system in place for structuring your days. Weigh up the pros and cons of working from home. Do some research on co-working spaces if you feel like that might be beneficial for your productivity. Hot desking is a cool way to meet industry peers, expand your network, and potentially get more referrals.

 

Keep records of everything 

It’s going to require some planning, but you need to keep track of your invoices and all the money coming into your account. Make sure you know what your country or state tax laws are so you’re able to pay the right amount when tax season comes around. If it’s all overwhelming, outsource these skills and pay someone to help you. You’re the boss now, but you’re also the one who is going to deal with all the subsequent life admin. Create a system that works for you, whether it’s physical copies of each invoice or a folder on your Google Drive. 

 

Trust your gut 

It’s not always possible but if a potential client doesn’t feel right to you – don’t get involved. Cayleigh shares her tips for this and mentions, “All clients come with their own stress because they’re human, but if something is not sitting right about a project you’re asked to quote for, you’re unlikely to regret politely declining.” If you’re just starting out, it may not be possible as you’ll need the cash flow. But it’s a valuable lesson to learn in trusting your feelings about a project. Save yourself a couple months of uncomfortable feelings, unpaid invoices, and build a client list that feels good. After all, since you’re the boss you can choose who you want to work with. 

It’s a brave decision to go freelance but it may just be the ideal time to try this option out. And if it’s too overwhelming and not the right fit for you, you can always re-enter the formally employed life again. 

Are you considering freelance life or have you made the leap already? We’d love to hear from you! 


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