Is A Full-Time Freelance Career For You? Here Are 5 Things To Consider
Flexi work hours, you’re your own boss and you can choose the projects that you work on. Those are just some of the perks of being a freelancer. Freelance work was once considered something you did on the side to make extra money or develop a new skill. Today, it’s clearly a fast-growing career choice with millennials who want to turn their passion into a full-time, lucrative career. Being a freelancer may sound like a dream job to those stuck in the rut of a normal day job, but it is important to take a step back and consider what it actually means to be a freelancer before exchanging the security of your monthly pay check to a variable salary.
Here are 5 things to consider before you switch to being a full-time freelancer:
1. Choose your focus
You may be good at more than one thing, so consider marketing yourself as the master of a few areas rather than a jack of all traits. If you can narrow down your field of expertise to three areas maximum, you can charge a higher rate for a better quality of specialised work, rather than being a general worker (think of this as the difference between a specialist and a regular GP).
2. Market yourself the best you can
Some days it feels like the world is full of bloggers and freelancers, especially in fields such as writing, IT, photography and tech support. Apart from having a pleasant personality and a good reputation, how do you stand apart from the competition and make a name for yourself? By having a very strong online presence and making social media work to your advantage.
When planning your marketing plan for yourself (and your company), make sure you show off previous work in the same field through a professional portfolio so that potential clients can see your level of expertise for themselves. Also be sure to include any testimonials and names of past clients for credibility. Finally, price your rate competitively so that clients are not put off with ridiculously high fees. But don’t price yourself too low either as prospective clients can misinterpret that as a sign of inexperience and no confidence.
3. Make sure you can manage your finances for some time without an income
While freelancing is great for flexible working hours and juggling multiple (personal) commitments on a daily basis, most people forget that it rarely comes with a guaranteed amount of pay every month. You might be very busy one month, making a lot of money, while the next month may turn out to be completely the opposite. Prospective freelancers need to understand and be able to accept the fact that freelancing is a very insecure and fluctuating way of earning a living.
Also, leaving a full-time job may mean having to say goodbye to other intrinsic perks such as medical benefits, paid leave, CPF contributions, etc. This naturally means that a freelancer’s gross income is not his net income or profit, as he now has to budget for rent, taxes, insurance, and other financial commitments out of the gross income. Most prospective freelancers advise on building up a safety net to see you live comfortably for at least the first six months when starting out on your own.
4. Working alone can get lonely
While you have the advantage of working at home or at a bustling coffee shop, working as a freelancer usually means working on your own without a team or an office. Some people work better alone, while others need to be part of a team and feel like they belong to a group. However, even those that are happy in their own company need to regularly have social interaction for networking and not fall into the trap of isolation and depression.
5. You’ll need top notch organisational skills
You’re the boss now and your success depends on just one thing – you. Deadlines, closing deals, securing new clients, filing taxes, legal obligations, staying on top of emails and communications – it all boils down to you. Most freelancers initially try handling everything on their own to save money rather than hire someone to work for them. But managing the admin and paperwork side of a business on your own can seem like an infinite uphill task on most days. Having strong organisational skills is key to running a successful business and to keep on top of all your client goals and deadlines.