Freelancing always sounds like such a cool job to have. Telling someone you are a freelance anything instantly makes you seem like you spend your days carefree, travelling to exotic locales and really living out your dreams by pursuing your passion. However, the truth is that a freelancer is really just a one man business operation. The freelancer is his own CEO, accountant, secretary, marketing director, everything. There is a lot to be considered before becoming a freelancer, more than just if you have the discipline to work for yourself. If you are thinking of becoming a freelancer, here are some important things to take into account.
1. Discipline is Important. I know, I said there is a lot to be considered in addition to discipline, but discipline really is one of the most important aspects of being a successful freelancer. Most, if not all, freelancers work from home, and that can be one of the most challenging aspects. While at home, it’s easy to think to yourself, “I’ll just run to the store” or “well, I’m already home, I can meet for coffee.” The next thing you know, it’s 5 pm and you’ve wasted the whole day doing household tasks that are important but not part of your freelancing job. One way to combat this temptation is to make your office in a part of the house where you can shut the door. This will help you resist the temptation to go out and take care of other things you know you need to do. A shut door will also deter intrusions by your family and pets although a stronger message may be necessary. A family discussion where you discuss your hours and set guidelines for when you can be interrupted may also be beneficial in your fight against too many interruptions throughout the day.
2. Never Stop Selling Yourself. As a freelancer, any business you get is a result of your own work; no one else is managing your marketing strategy. As a result, the best marketing techniques for your situation are easy and self-sustaining since you will be preoccupied with other things. A website is a great advertising tool that, once it’s created, manages itself. Making sure you are registered on Yelp and Google maps will also boost your marketing with little effort on your part. After that, focusing on getting good word of mouth recommendations and a little advertising, potentially in trade journals or around your town, will boost your client list even further. Don’t forget to reach out to your circles of friends either! Other PTA parents, church friends, or even neighbours can be good clients as well.
3. Know When to Seek Help. While doing all your own miscellaneous tasks may be the cheapest route, some things really must be left to professionals. Taxes are one example of this. Hiring an accountant to do your taxes every year may be a little expensive, but accountants are trained in handling all types of tax situations and will help prevent an audit. Since sole proprietors are one of the most audited groups, an accountant may save you from the hassle of an audit. Accountants also have a high chance of saving you the money you spent through little known deductions and complex calculations. Lawyers are also the type of people you hire for their professional skills. Reading over contracts and legal documents can technically be done by everybody, but a lawyer can save you from a lawsuit or potential complications before anything ever happens.
4. Remember, It’s Still a Job. Last but not least, remember your freelancing is still a job and should be treated that way. A professional attitude and demeanor is always required, even in a casual environment. Making yourself get out of your pajamas every day is a good start. One of the main reasons businesses and schools have dress codes is that studies have shown the nicer you are dressed, the better you behave. In the workplace, this usually translates to a more focused attitude if you aren’t still wearing your pajamas. A full suit definitely isn’t necessary but real clothes (even jeans and a sweater) will make you feel more pulled together and ready to face work. Having a space designated solely for your work will also have this effect. You’ll have your work stuff together and ready to go every time you sit down to work. If you don’t have space for a separate office, a corner of a living room or kitchen can work just as well. Separate phone lines for your work and home are useful too. That way, you don’t run the risk of your kids picking up the phone or ignoring important business calls.
Freelancing can be a very flexible job, providing lots of opportunities for dictating your own schedule and choosing your own clients. However, it can also be one of the most difficult jobs since it requires the completion of a lot of tasks that are typically taken care of by other people in a business setting. These tips above are important to consider for being a successful freelancer. Use them to set yourself on the right course!