7 Things You Should Know Before Going Freelance
If you ask us, there’s a lot of value in freelancing at some point in your life. You’ll learn a lot and have a ton of autonomy that you probably would not have in a typical 9-to-5. But there are a few things you should know before you dive into the world of freelancing. Here are the seven best pieces of advice:
1. Consider your values.
Though you may have landed your first freelance gig (congrats, by the way), it’s important to think clearly about what kind of freelance work you want to be known for. Take a beat to consider what your standards are. For example, what types of clients do you want to work for, what specific work do you want to be doing, how much time can you dedicate to a specific project and how much compensation will you accept at a minimum? You may have to complete dozens of projects before you have a robust enough portfolio to reach those big-name companies you’ve been dying to work for.
2. Find your “thing” and your community before working on a project.
Before applying for any freelance gigs, consider what you’d like to specialize in. Think critically about the work you pursue. Having your name on a project that doesn’t help you get on the path you want won’t advance your career. For example, if you want to be a travel writer, but have only written about food, it’s going to be nearly impossible to break into a big-name travel media company. And consider what you want to be known for. When you figure out what your “thing” is, find a community, either in your area or online, and become a part of it. You’ll gain different perspectives, bond with the people you meet and even get some networking in.
3. You need to be super careful about your money.
It’s not a huge shock that you need to be more mindful about your income when it’s irregular. The key is to make a budgeting plan that keeps you afloat even in your worst month. You also need to consider how your tax filing will change. Depending on how much money you make from freelancing per year, you’ll need to file a number of forms (most commonly the 1099 form).
4. You’re literally your own boss.
Yes, you have full autonomy when you freelance full time. But while the newfound freedom feels amazing (who doesn’t like getting up at 10 a.m., rolling into your makeshift home office in sweats and eating cold pizza straight from your fridge for lunch?), you’re taking on all the responsibilities a boss would. A boss keeps his or her team on task, communicates PTO and sick day policies and in some cases coordinates tax forms. When you’re your own boss, you have to remember to set standards for your workday, know when to give yourself time off and, as we said above, you need to make sure your ass is covered during tax season.
5. Communication is crucial.
Yeah, you may answer to only yourself most of the time, but freelancing almost always includes speaking with clients. Your communication skills should be top notch, especially if you’re having conversations remotely. Not only will your reputation benefit from speaking clearly and frequently (we can guarantee clients don’t want to track you down and receive radio silence on your end), but you’ll learn a lot about working with, and marketing yourself to others.
7. No matter what, keep moving.
In some cases, you could be working from the comfort of your couch when you freelance. If you do the majority of your work online, make sure you still get some exercise during the day since you won’t get activity from a commute or through moving around the office. Make extra effort to set aside workout time, or at least, walk to get some lunch.
8. Know what to consider before taking a “permalance” position.
Permalance is a type of freelancing that entails working a full-time schedule for a single employer. You should be fully aware of what the position requires before diving into it. Since you’re considered a sub-contractor, you probably won’t have access to company benefits like paid time off or health care insurance. The opportunity could still be worthwhile — maybe you get to work for a big name or the company promises to consider you for full-time work after a certain amount of time. Don’t discount permalance, but think it over critically before making the decision.