Have you heard of terms like gig economy, freelancing, and side business? It seems to be the trend these days to make a side income if you aren’t making enough income at your regular job. The idea of becoming your own boss and working when you want at the beach does have its dreamy appeal, but is that life for you? Should you become a self-employed freelancer?
If you’re on the fence about starting a freelancing business, ask yourself the following questions. You may surprise yourself with your readiness to take your career in a new direction. Or you may need more time to re-evaluate your options. Either way, these questions will help you decide if freelancing is for you.
Are you aware of the challenges and risks of freelancing?
If you’ve always been an employee, the sudden income instability may be a little frightening. Before you start, make sure that you have three to six month’s savings set aside to pay your bills. You’ll be taking risks that you didn’t take when you had a job.
As a freelancer, it’s your responsibility to find work for yourself, either by networking or creating a profile on a gig platform such as Fiverr. When you first begin working on your own, you’ll need to manage your time and goals wisely. Even if you have a job that lasts three months, you’ll be looking ahead to line up the next gig to start four months from now. Otherwise, when your contract finishes, you could find yourself without an income.
When you first start freelancing, you may have some months with a lot of income, and other months with less. Setting aside savings will help with unforeseen expenses during months of less income. You’ll also need your savings because the holiday pay, sick leave, and medical and dental benefits that you may be accustomed to isn’t provided to freelancers.
The abrupt change in income stability may be too much of a difference in lifestyle for some people. Some people freelance for a side income, working in the evenings and weekends while still working at a full-time job. Others work at a part-time job while supplementing their income with a freelance business before transitioning to freelancing full time years later, when they have a stable client base.
Do you have the skills as a freelancer?
Your success as a freelancer will also depend on your skill set. You can freelance as a writer, social media manager, virtual assistant, or video editor, to name a few jobs. If you’re just starting to build your skill set, you’ll be charging beginner level rates. If you already developed a skill and you’re transitioning to freelancing with that same skill, you’ll be able to charge much higher rates.
Other factors that will determine how much work you get as a freelancer and how much you make include:
- Whether your skills are in high demand. If many clients need someone with your skills, then you will find many opportunities.
- Whether your skills are general or niche. Writing, for example, is a general skill, and there is an abundance of writers. If you have a niche, such as writing grants or writing for tech companies, you will be higher demand by those clients that need that level of specialization.
- Quality of your clients. Your relationship with your client as well as their financial situation will determine how much you can charge for your services. For example, if you are just getting started, you may accept a contract with a small company that hasn’t been in business very long. Their budget would be limited, but you would be able to gain some work experience.
Do you have the mindset to start a freelancing business?
The most important factor to consider about freelancing is your mindset. You’ll be your own boss, setting your own work hours. You can sleep in on a weekday or only work three hours a day if you’re feeling lazy. Those are some of the perks.
It also means you need a lot of self discipline to set your own income goals and work hours, and to get work done by the deadline. People you know may discourage you from freelancing because of the risks. They’ll tell you to stick to the stability of having a traditional 9 to 5 job, and maybe work two jobs if you want to make more money.
As a part-time or full-time freelancer, however, you’ll be able to decide what projects and work you want to take on, and you’ll be able to negotiate your own rates. Yes, you’ll have bad experiences with clients who don’t pay or take advantage of you. It’s a learning process, and as you gain experience, you’ll have the chance to find great clients who appreciate you. When you become highly experienced and in demand, you’ll even be able to turn down jobs to do only the work you enjoy.
Freelancing, either part-time or full-time, can be a dream come true for those who want to make an extra income, or take on work opportunities they want. Being your own boss and working where and when you please has its appeal. However, freelance work isn’t for everyone. You need mental discipline and a desire to always work on your skills.
Still considering working as a freelancer? What gigs would you like to try?
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