6 Simple Steps to Becoming Engaged in a Freelancing Career
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
As our culture shifts and the younger generation transitions into the workforce, the thought of being stuffed in an office all day and having your value defined only by the hours worked rather than your qualifications and work quality has no appeal. The ability to select the job that best suits one's interests and seamlessly integrate work and life is the ideal goal.
The desire to work remotely has only increased with the onset of the Corona Virus. This pandemic has severely crippled economies, especially those heavily reliant on in-person interactions. The traditional workforce hurried to make core operations accessible online, and facilitated staff to work remotely where possible.
However, this shift comes with a few significant adjustments, such as job redundancies and pay cuts to cover business deficits. Also, some companies believe that working from home is a luxury that does not require the same salary or more. Completely disregarding the additional expenses, employees face when working from home. For example, increased power, hydro, internet, grocery, childcare, and the increased need for online learning.
Due to these challenges, freelancing has become much more appealing than traditional employment.
Are you considering this move? If yes, here are some things to keep in mind to become a fully engaged freelancer.
Create a Workspace and Routine.
The most significant work from home benefit for freelancers is the ability to work on their terms. For the most part, this is also why a freelancing career is not for everyone. Working on your terms requires self-discipline and a stable workspace.
We recommend establishing a designated workspace, separate from the main entertainment space when working from home. This area helps to foster the drive to work and promotes focus. Your workspace can double as your creative space. A section of the house where, at any time, you can retreat to think, plan, reflect, or be creative without distractions from the rest of the household.
With your workspace in full swing, think about the time of day and conditions under which you are most productive. What task requires the most time and energy? Keep in mind that productivity equals money. The more productive you are, the more you earn. Develop a routine that allows you to get more work done.
Understand the Terms of Employment.
As an independent contractor, you should:
• Have the freedom to make your schedule.
• Be able to decide where and how you do your work (once it gets done).
• Have no taxes withheld from your payments.
In most cases, independent contractors should have a contract that outlines the work details and clarifies that you are hired as an independent contractor.
On the other hand, some freelancers prefer the security of consistent, full-time work from home employment. In the early stages of your freelancing career, this is often the case, primarily if you are used to a steady 9-5 job, where the thought of losing that stability is terrifying. So, working with an online agency would be best for you.
Create a Business Plan.
More Jobs = more money. Wrong! More jobs = burnout.
Starting as a freelancer may require you to take on multiple jobs to get the wheels turning. The more experienced you become, the more you realize that it is better to corner one job market. Without proper organization and planning, more jobs can lead to confusion, overburdening, loss of productivity, and, inevitably, loss of income. However, establishing yourself in one field allows you to start a business built on experience, credibility, and loyalty.
Take the time to create long-term goals and short-term steps to achieve them. Your plans may change as you go, but having one in the initial stage will put you ahead of many people who are "trying out" freelancing.
Like any business, a successful freelance business does not magically appear and manage itself. Consider what services you are best suited to offer, who your ideal clients are, how to market and position yourself in your industry, and the steps required to start building your business. Get it all in writing on paper or a vision board to have a visual reminder each day.
Price Your Work.
This part is the hardest, as most freelancers do not know how to begin valuing their work. Well, first things first, you must consider all the new expenses you will be taking on as a freelancer:
• Professional development. Enrolment in higher education, whether short courses / long term education. Join professional organizations, attend conferences, and other career-related events. All those costs will be out of your pocket.
• Supplies. This includes your computer, the right types of software and applications, and a printer and scanner for many freelancers.
• Marketing. Time invested in the building and management of your business for no compensation.
• Any days off. Vacation, sick days, or any time off from working will be at your expense.
• Health insurance premiums. Health insurance premiums are entirely at your expense unless you have a spouse with good coverage.
You can find freelance rate calculators online to help you figure out a good starting point. Connect with other freelancers doing similar work in your industry to see what they typically charge. That will give you a better view of what the market looks like, and it will help you avoid selling yourself short and undercutting other local professionals.
Know When to Say No.
The desire to take on every project is understandable, even expected, but there are several good reasons to say no. A Freelancer must know when to turn down a project that is not a good fit for their skills and where their knowledge is lacking. Be open to stepping away from clients that are not suited for your work style, may be challenging to work with, and possibly hurt your reputation in the long run if things do not go well.
Ensure to take on a reasonable workload to avoid becoming overwhelmed and missing deadlines. Set boundaries with clients to prevent them from overstepping the agreed-upon terms, as the increase of scope may sabotage your bottom line.
Knowing how to say no diplomatically is a vital part of freelancing, so start practicing to be prepared before taking the plunge.
Becoming a full-time freelancer may be challenging at first, but if this is the path for you, it then gets easier over time. Connect with other freelancers to learn the nature and nuances of this career path and figure out what works best for you. Becoming a freelancer can be a long process, but it will give you more control over your personal and work life if done correctly.
Prioritize Marketing and Networking.
Starting your career as a freelancer can be challenging. You will find yourself accepting the first job you get and many more. In essence, you are on the hunt. Again, this is expected but should not become a practice. Every freelancer aims to have clients hunting for them.
For this to happen, clients need to know you exist. Employing marketing tactics in your business and networking to make professional connections are crucial to achieving this goal. Build a professional website and determine what marketing activities are the best fit for your qualification, skills, and business.
Connect with professionals within your field on social media platforms, determine what relevant local professional organizations are available, and start attending their events. Request testimonials from clients you have worked with, upload them to your website and kindly ask them to recommend you to colleagues who need similar work. In addition to the work you offer, your job as a freelancer is to seek potential clients to help you build your brand.
Having read these steps, you can now determine whether a career as a freelancer is right for you. If it is not, that is fine. It is essential to identify your strengths and weaknesses to do what works best for you. If you have an interest in freelancing but are afraid to start, do not worry. Hold onto your day job and in your spare time, offer your skills to a few friends at a cost, and evaluate that experience. However, if becoming a freelancer is for you, then get started on creating your workspace. For the 100th time, the beginning may be rough, but you will pull through once you follow these steps.
Go get them!
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