Are you thinking of leaving the 9-5 for freelance work? FFD asks Forever Yours Betty what should be considered before taking the plunge to self employment.
You’ve thought about it. You’ve talked about it. You’ve even come close to doing it a few times. But alas, here you are. Still complaining about your job and that you want to go freelance. Afterall, not everyone is built for the 9-to-5 life. Especially since nowadays since the 9-5 actually is actually workin' 9-to-6, or -7, or -8, all for someone else. Freelancing might work for many, but that doesn’t mean it does for all! Like most things there are pros and cons, but more people seem to be taking the jump. So if you are thinking of being one of them, I have a few wisdom nuggets I'd like to share before you start typing up the notice.
Are you ready for the hustle?
One of the biggest freelancing myths around is that freelancers only work when they want to. While it’s possible to make your own hours, I'm calling bullshit. Yes, it’s true you can create your own schedule, but in order to pay your bills and/or finish the projects you’ve started, generally, it's a 24/7 thing. Even if not in the physical sense, but the mental. All you do is think about work. And yes, that includes evenings and weekends. So if that scares you and you are looking for something easier, I'd look elsewhere my friend.
Structure or flexibility? You decide
To put it politely, I've never described myself as a “morning person” or someone who enjoys hierarchy for that matter. In my last 'normal' job, I’d get anxious when my night owl body wasn’t ready for bed at a reasonable hour, worrying about how I'll get up and generally dread the day ahead. With freelancing, your work schedule fits around you. I don't start work until 9.30 or sometimes 10 am some mornings, why? Because I couldn't sleep last night so did a few hours work between 1.30-3.30am. Working for yourself may mean that sometimes you'll have to work collectively more hours than before, but that's ok because this time it's all for you. You need find some self motivation and time management skills, and if you don't have that you gotta learn them fast. Only you know what needs to be done, and if no one does it, then bitches don't get paid.
How's your skillset, dude?
For many freelancers, one of the reasons they end up working more is that they have many areas of expertise. Unless you are unbelievably shit hot in your niche, you may need to look into broadening your skills to find consistent work. Of course, it’s not realistic (or recommended) that you should be an expert in 15 areas. But the wider you can spread yourself, the more reliable your workload will be. Specialise in what you are good at and pivot around the things your ideal client may need. Learning and developing your skill set may not be billable, but it's tax deductible and it'll make damn sure you get the job over your competitor.
Who needs an elevator pitch?
You do. No matter what area in which you are freelancing, sales and marketing skills are essential in order to find clients. You have to learn to utilize every opportunity and how to sell yourself. You might be a technical genius or even wrote the book about your area of expertise, but if you don’t know how to work it in front of potential clients? Finding work could be difficult. You need to know how to promote your skills, follow the market, and most importantly, collect your little black book. Contacts are currency in the freelance game and if you want the work, you don't have to play a good game, you need to talk it too.
It's not all about the money, honey
In the freelance biz, it can be common to make more money than you would in a 'regular' 9-5 job but please, do not be fooled. Making more money doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have money when you need it. It takes a lot of hard work to build up a steady income as a freelancer. First up, there's taxes. We pay them once a year and it's up to us to save for them. Then there's book keeping, invoice measuring, chasing payments. And what about when the time comes you lose a client? (And the time will come) Or when 3 invoices are overdue, you already did your ASOS haul and rent's coming up? All these extra stresses add up and believe you me, the accounting aspect of freelance isn't fun. But someones gotta do it!
Change the if's for why's
Look. There's always gonna be risks when becoming a freelancer, that's where the term job security comes from! You are never going to be sure if it's gonna work for you, if you will be able to sell yourself, if it's gonna be a success. It's time to stop thinking about the if's, and start asking about the why's. Yes, it could fail, but why the hell not try? Full-time work is always going to be there, and as some dude once said, "is it not better to try and fail, than to never try at all?"
In my eyes, that dude was right. Are you thinking of going freelance? Leave any questions in the comments below.