Sure, it’s freedom to wear sweatpants 24/7 – but freelancing is much, much more.

Whether it’s forgetting the camera is on while bringing a Zoom call to the bathroom or forgetting that the mute button is a thing, 2020 has given us an unprecedented look into working from home. New and unexpected for many, and a regular routine for many more!

Welcome to our world: those of us who have been freelancing for decades already know this drill oh so well.

Videoconferencing, Slacking, Skyping and – most importantly – the fine art of taking a call without wearing real pants are all part of our daily grind. Think you might want to take this as your opportunity for a permanent working-from-home lifestyle? We’re with you, all the way! But freelancing isn’t for everyone.

While there are some good reasons to become a freelancer, there are plenty of hurdles to navigate – and if you’re not prepared to put some time into training beforehand, you may find yourself spraining an ankle or two along the way. Don’t make the jump without knowing exactly what you are getting into – in all of its glorious freedom and stress-filled nights (inescapable, if you’re doing it right)! Here are some signs that freelancing might be right for you:

…If you want to make your own schedule

Freelancing might be your new 9 to 5, or it might become your 11 to 7. Heck, make it your midnight to six AM if that’s what your ideal schedule looks like! That’s one of the greatest benefits to freelancing: while there are of course some exceptions, in many cases, you can make your freelancing hours whatever you want. This is particularly true for creatives who can work in a digital environment across the globe, such as graphic designers, web developers, and writers.

OK, what’s the catch?

There’s one in every bunch – and in this case, the catch is that freelancing may end up taking up more of your time than you thought. Freelancing isn’t the golden ticket to put up your feet at home and get a couple hours of work in before binge-watching The Office – and while that could eventually become reality, successful freelancers are out there hustling and shaking trees.

Think of it as starting a business (because that’s exactly what it is). You’ll have to put in some sweat equity to find clients, create proposals, and get your name out there. That’s only the beginning! Even the most diligent of freelancers can find themselves working 20 hours one week and 60 the next. If you’re not ready to invest more than 9 to 5, the freelancing life may not be for you.

Track It All

Whether you do the 9-5 or mix up the 20 hours here, 60 there, one of the biggest keys to successful freelancing is tracking your time.  This may seem strange to newbies and even some seasoned freelance pros, but knowing where your time has gone can help you estimate better, negotiate and optimize your billable time.  Whether you are on a fixed fee weekly/monthly rate or bidding jobs, being able to look at how much time and where that time went is crucial to making better decisions in the future.  Own your time and be accountable to it.  We’ll cover this topic in much greater detail in future articles.  

…If you want to set your own pay

It’s tough to feel as though you are getting paid what you are worth. Having open and honest conversations with your boss about pay scales, promotions, and raises is always a good step – but it doesn’t always yield results. Whether it’s due to politics, budget restraints, or disconnect with management, not getting paid your worth can be a big motivator to start freelancing.

As a freelancer, you get complete autonomy over your hourly or project-based rates. That’s a pretty sweet benefit, especially if you have valuable skills within your industry. The freelancing market can open a window to clients that are willing to pay higher rates for talented professionals – and all without the politics of negotiating a raise from across the table.

Sounds great – but…

Setting your own pay is a double-edged sword: you’ll have to make some big decisions and do a fair amount of legwork. Creating your own pay structure isn’t as easy as it sounds. For example, just because you feel your work is worth $350 an hour doesn’t mean that clients are willing to pay – especially when you are new to freelancing. You’ll need to consider things like:

  • What’s the average industry rate for my product/service?
  • How much are other freelancers charging for a similar job?
  • How much experience do they have?
  • Can I put a dollar amount on my career experience?
  • How much do I need to make in order to keep my monthly bills paid?
  • Am I willing to offer lower rates while I grow my freelancing experience?

In Conclusion

Freelancing has so many benefits for people who want the flexibility and self determination in their careers, but remember, it’s a business and keeping organized and tracking everything will be the keys to your success.  Good luck out there!

January 27, 2023
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