If you’re reading this, you have probably considered freelancing as an actual full-time job or maybe you’re just sick of working in a highly repetitive office environment.
There are lots of freelancing jobs that you can do, for e.g. providing translation services, web designing, copywriting or even data entry work. I have written an article on ways to make money which includes freelancing.
Freelancing can offer a lot of benefits, especially flexibility in work and you get to be your own boss. That said, it’s not easy at all to be a freelancer; at least not as easy as you probably think.
There are many things that you should know about freelancing even before venturing into this trade but certain things are more important than the rest; which is why I have taken the initiative in writing this article on 5 things you must know before you even begin:
1. You need to have sufficient savings
Starting off as a freelancer is no easy task at all; especially if you don’t have enough savings to maintain your lifestyle for months.
Wait, why is this so?
Well, it’s because..YOU MIGHT NOT GET PAID FOR MONTHS!
So why do people still want to be a freelancer?
Most people have this impression that being a freelancer gives you a lot of flexibility and has a lot of potential for good earnings. This is not always true. Experienced freelancers may have this privilege, but starting out as a newbie may not afford you that flexibility and income.
Now, why is that?
As a newbie freelancer, you’re practically unknown. Who would hire you and pay you so much to do, let’s say, web designing for them? They will hire someone with a lot of experience and has a lot of good reviews from past clients.
This is why you need sufficient financial backing or else you can’t survive. You need time to find clients and slowly build your portfolio.
2. You are your own boss
It’s a double-edged sword. It’s a good thing if you dislike working for others or you have a bad experience with your superiors. You can be your own boss.
The bad thing is, being your own boss means you are accountable for your actions. You won’t have anyone to ‘cover your ass‘ or help you in a crappy situation. You have to deal with your problems on your own.
If you don’t like to be FULLY accountable to your work, then freelancing is not for you.
You will be negotiating with your clients all by yourself and basically dealing with them on your own from start to finish. That includes negotiating deadlines and the fees you will be charging, whether it’s a lump sum or on a milestone basis.
You have to FIND your own clients which is probably the hardest thing of freelancing. Why? Because without clients, how are you going to survive?
3. You need a lot of self-discipline
This one is obvious because when you work as a freelancer, you don’t have a boss or HR to monitor when you actually come to work. An office worker would be bound by the same clock-in time every day but a freelancer does not have such an obligation.
This only makes it harder because it’s so easy to decide ‘not to come to work’ the next day.
What happens when you do that?
- Lose potential clients
- Fail to meet your clients’ deadlines or even
- Lose existing clients from failing to meet deadlines
To avoid those situations from happening, you need lots and lots of self-discipline. You must be able to set targets to complete all of your pending work from clients. Set a time to start your work and also a time to stop working.
If you work non-stop, aren’t you going against your original idea of having a flexible job?
4. You need to know market trends
As a freelancer, you have to know the current market trends and to keep updated on it because otherwise, you might be losing out on a lot of potential clients and most importantly, potential income.
If you provide translation services, you should know what are the best sites that are actually offering legit translation jobs for your language pairing. You need to know whether there are new freelancing platforms that have a bigger client base.
Why is that so?
If you build a good portfolio when competition is still low, chances are you will become one of the higher rated freelancers in the future. If you’re highly rated, jobs will be coming to you rather than you having to apply for them.
Another example would be: if you are a freelance blogger, you should know what’s the latest Google algorithm in getting your blog post ranked on the first page of Google. Most of your traffic will probably come from search engines and ranking highly on your targeted keywords will only mean more traffic. More traffic = more potential income.
If you don’t keep yourself updated on latest trends, you may potentially lose a lot of income.
5. You need your family’s support (and partner’s support if you have one)
This is one of the most important points. Why is it so? If you don’t have support from your family and your partner, freelancing will only be a pain in the ass. Not from your freelance work of course, but from your loved ones.
Not having support will mean your relationship with your loved ones will take a toll. It will be an even tougher journey, and it gets worse if you’re not making any money from freelancing. It’s already difficult to be a freelancer in the beginning and without support, you will feel like it’s impossible to proceed.
You will eventually end up quitting your freelance career altogether.
So before you decide to take on a full-time freelancing career, why not get the support from your family and your partner (if you have one). If they encourage you to follow your intuition, you’ll feel highly motivated and eventually you’ll probably succeed in this line.
If they discourage you, think long and hard before you make a decision whether to proceed or not.
Freelancing is not for everyone. You must have a lot of strive, passion and determination if you want to succeed as a freelancer. Hopefully this post would have helped you make your decision. Don’t just think twice. Think a hundred times before stepping into a full-time freelancing career.