There are many benefits to freelancing, including the ability to work from home, set your own hours, and choose your own projects. However, freelancing isn’t right for everyone. Before you take the plunge into freelancing, it’s important to consider whether or not it’s the right career path for you.
With the financial uncertainty felt around the world in recent times – pandemic, war, inflation, crisis after crisis – many people are ready to find a new career or simply supplement their existing income.
Everyone from the factory worker to the high-powered executive, the stay-at-home mom to the recently-let-go dad, the delivery driver to the part-time retail worker has thought about freelancing at some point.
The barriers to entry are low – all you need is a skill or talent and a willingness to work hard – which makes freelancing an attractive option for many people.
They start by searching the internet for “work from home” or “freelance jobs”.
Unfortunately, many of these people will be disappointed because freelancing is not a magic solution to all their problems. In fact, freelancing can be quite challenging and demanding, even for those who are well suited to it.
Before you decide to become a freelancer, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you have the self-discipline to work from home?
Working from home can be great – no commute, no office politics, and you can wear your pyjamas all day if you want! But it’s not for everyone. If you’re the type of person who struggles to focus when there are distractions around, or who gets lonely working by yourself, then freelancing might not be right for you.
Do you have a good network of support?
When you’re a freelancer, there’s no one to rely on but yourself. If you need help with something, you can’t just ask your boss – you have to find the answer yourself. This can be a challenge, especially if you’re not used to working independently.
Do you have the necessary skills?
Not everyone has the skills required to be a successful freelancer. For example, if you’re hoping to freelance as a web designer but don’t have any experience or training, you’re likely to struggle.
Do you have a niche?
Having a specialty or niche is essential for freelancers. It’s what sets you apart from the competition and helps you attract clients. without a specialty, you’ll find it very difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Do you have the financial stability to freelance?
Freelancing can be an insecure income, and it can take time to build up a client base. This is why it’s important to have some financial stability before you make the switch to freelancing. If you’re currently in a stable job, consider whether or not you can afford to give it up before making the jump into freelancing.
Do you have the drive to succeed?
Freelancing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes hard work, dedication, and determination to make it as a freelancer. If you’re not prepared to put in the effort, you’re likely to fail.
Only you can answer these questions, but if you’re thinking of becoming a freelancer, it’s important to be honest with yourself about whether or not it’s the right career path for you. If you’re not sure, there’s no harm in trying it out for a few months to see how you find it. However, if you’re certain that freelancing is not for you, it’s best to save yourself the time, effort, and frustration by finding another career path.
The Online Freelancing Toolkit
When you consider becoming a freelancer, your thoughts may turn to advertising – and that’s a great start. If you can’t get yourself in front of people, you won’t get any customers. However, things have changed rapidly over the last few years.
We’ve always known that business cards can be an investment you don’t need to make when starting a new business. In the modern era, this is more true than ever. Social media accounts and your own personal website are the new business cards. You don’t need to spend money on print advertising, and you can reach a global audience with your message.
When it comes to setting up your freelance business, there are a few key tools you’ll need:
A portfolio: This can be a website, blog, or even a social media account dedicated to your work. If you don’t have any previous work to show, create some sample projects to showcase your skills. Should you intend to work through Upwork or Fiverr, you don’t even need this – you can do it all through these platforms. However, keep in mind that platforms take a cut of your profit, and you are at their mercy in terms of changes to their algorithms, which could limit your visibility or even get you banned. With that in mind…
A good online presence: In today’s world, potential clients will almost certainly look you up online before hiring you. Make sure your social media accounts are up-to-date and professional and get on LinkedIn. You don’t need to become a LinkedIn expert, but having a profile there adds to your legitimacy.
A professional email address: This one is easy to overlook, but it’s important to have a professional email address associated with your freelance business. This can be as simple as using your name instead of a nickname or setting up a new account specifically for your freelance business. If you have your own domain name, it’s easy to do, but it is increasingly common to see @gmail addresses being used professionally. You might even want to set up a separate email account for your business if you want to keep everything tidy.
A billing system: You’ll need a way to send invoices and track payments. There are a number of options available, from simple invoicing software to more comprehensive accounting platforms. Choose the option that fits your needs and budget. Fiverr and Upwork takes care of billing for you, but you might still need to keep track of your income for tax purposes.
Tools of the trade: Depending on your freelancing skills, you might need cloud storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc) to keep and share anything you create – it also makes it easy to edit “on the go.”
Other tools you might use include:
Canva – perfect for creating social media posts, covers, and other visual content
Grammarly – a must-have for anyone who wants to avoid embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes
Hootsuite – perfect for managing all your social media accounts in one place
Asana – project management software that can help you keep on top of deadlines and clients
Jasper – an AI writing assistant. Great for creating social media posts or helping you power through writer’s block. It won’t write complete posts for you (yet!) but can help you become inspired with ideas.
All of these tools are optional – it depends on the type of work you’ll be doing and how you like to work. The most important thing is to have a plan and stick to it.
Is it for you?
If you’re not sure if freelancing is right for you, there are a few things you can do to test the waters:
1. Check out job boards and see what kinds of gigs are available. This will give you an idea of the types of skills that are in demand and what companies are looking for.
2. See if there are any freelancers in your network who might be able to give you some advice or provide a testimonial.
3. Sign up for a freelancing platform like UpWork or Fiverr and start bidding on jobs. This will help you get a feel for the process and give you some experience working with clients.
4. Finally, take some time to assess your own skills and interests. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What are your strengths? Answering these questions will help you figure out if freelancing is right for you.
If you’ve decided that freelancing is right for you, the next step is to start building your business. This can seem like a daunting task, but you could always create a pitch deck. This is a short presentation (usually around 10 slides) that you can use to market your services to potential clients. Your pitch deck should include an overview of your skills and experience, information about your rates and availability, and examples of your work.
If you don’t have any previous clients, you can use this deck to land your first gig. Once you’ve got a few projects under your belt, you can start using those as examples of your work.
However, you don’t even need to share it. Creating a pitch deck can help you to organize your thoughts and develop your business ideas.
Building a successful freelance business takes time and effort, but it can be extremely rewarding. Can you make your freelancing dreams a reality?