These days, many more people than ever before are considering becoming freelancers, and it’s easy to see why.
There’s plenty of allure in the freedom to choose your own projects, set your own hours, and determine your work-life balance.
But freelancing isn’t right for everyone. There are plenty of people whose preferences make them better suited to conventional positions.
Before you take the plunge into the world of freelancing, then, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons and become familiar with the realities of this career choice.
You’ll then be better equipped to make an informed decision about whether freelancing is the right path for you — and if it is right for you, you can achieve a smooth transition into your new mode of working.
In this blog post, we'll explore five key factors you should consider before deciding to become a freelancer.
If you discover through reading them that you’re not suited to freelancing, temper the disappointment with appreciation that you can avoid a bad career move. And if you’re truly ready to start freelancing, good luck! Let’s get started.
Your need for financial stability
One of the most significant aspects to consider when thinking about freelancing is financial stability. As a freelancer, your income can be irregular, especially when you're first starting out.
Unlike traditional employment, you won't receive a guaranteed paycheck, which means you'll need to budget carefully and plan for fluctuations in your income.
Due to this, it's crucial to have a financial safety net in place before embarking on your freelancing journey. This might include having a substantial amount of savings or securing another source of income to fall back on, such as a part-time job or a supportive spouse.
Additionally, it's essential to consider the costs of self-employment, such as taxes, insurance, and equipment, and factor these expenses into your financial planning. Planning for these expenses, along with using the best invoice OCR software, can contribute to a smoother financial journey as a freelancer.
If you go through a period of struggle, how will you cope? Will you be able to buckle down and endure the turbulence, or will you become convinced that things are hopeless?
Some people can get by on very little money, while others are so used to creature comforts that they won’t willingly do without them. It depends on what sort of person you are.
Your administrative capabilities
Becoming a freelancer means taking on a variety of administrative tasks that you may not have had to deal with in a traditional job. These tasks can include invoicing clients, tracking expenses, filing taxes, and managing contracts.
While dealing with these tasks may not be the most exciting part of freelancing, it’s essential for maintaining a professional image and ensuring that your business runs smoothly.
To manage these tasks effectively, it's helpful to invest in tools and software designed specifically for freelancers, such as expense tracking and invoicing apps (Chargebee's guide to recurring billing can help here).
You should also familiarize yourself with the legal and tax requirements of being self-employed in your country, and consider hiring a professional accountant or attorney to help you navigate these complexities.
Your ability to manage your time
As a freelancer, you'll be responsible for managing your own time and juggling multiple tasks and deadlines. Without the structure of a traditional work environment, it can be challenging to stay organized and disciplined.
Effective time management skills are essential for keeping your productivity high and ensuring that you meet your clients' expectations.
To succeed as a freelancer, you'll need to develop a routine that works for you and stick to it. This may involve setting regular working hours, creating a dedicated workspace, and using productivity tools to help you stay on track.
It's also important to prioritize tasks, set realistic deadlines, and know when to say no to new projects if your workload becomes unmanageable. Though it’s true that commitment is a key soft skill, overworking yourself won’t benefit anyone.
Your willingness to build a personal brand
One of the biggest challenges of becoming a freelancer is finding clients and building a steady stream of work. To do this, you'll need to develop your personal brand, market your services effectively, and build a strong network of contacts.
This requires ongoing effort and investment, as you'll need to constantly promote yourself and stay up-to-date with industry trends and opportunities. It’s not a process that’s comfortable for everyone.
Depending on what you can afford to outsource, you may need to create a professional website, craft a compelling portfolio, and maintain an active presence on social media and industry forums. These things are necessary to showcase your skills and attract potential clients.
It's also important to network both online and offline, attending industry events and connecting with fellow freelancers, as these relationships can lead to referrals and valuable insights.
If you want to be a freelancer despite being the introverted type, you need to fully appreciate the scope of the task ahead of you.
Without the security of a set employer to funnel your work, you’ll need to embrace situations that make you anxious and uncertain. And if you can’t stomach that notion, maybe freelancing just isn’t for you: there’s no shame in it.
Your readiness to be a solo operator
Freelancing can be a lonely endeavor, especially if you're used to working in a social or team-based environment. The isolation that comes with working from home or in a solo office can take a toll on your mental well-being and motivation.
Before deciding to become a freelancer, consider how you'll cope with this aspect of the job and whether you're comfortable working independently for extended periods.
To combat feelings of isolation, it's essential to build a support network of fellow freelancers, friends, and family who can provide encouragement, advice, and camaraderie.
Joining online freelancer communities (The Hive Index has some good suggestions) and attending local meetups or co-working spaces can help you connect with others facing similar challenges.
It's also important to maintain a healthy work-life balance by taking regular breaks, engaging in hobbies and activities outside of work, and setting boundaries to prevent burnout.
Overall, while becoming a freelancer can be an exciting and rewarding career choice, it's essential to be prepared for the challenges and responsibilities that come with it.
If you take the time to carefully consider the aforementioned factors, you'll be better equipped to make an informed decision about whether freelancing is right for you.
With careful planning and the right mindset, you can embrace the freelance lifestyle and build a successful and fulfilling career on your own terms. So what do you think? Are you ready to take the plunge?