There can be no doubt that there has been a steady rise in the number of people working in the gig economy, or freelancing in some form or another. Some of this increase in numbers can be attributed to the emergence of technology companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and even Amazon, but the bulk of freelance workers are doing work that would have traditionally been done in the office environment.
If you’re thinking about becoming a freelancer, there are a number of factors to consider before taking the plunge. You probably want this to be a positive move, so it’s vital to create some kind of business plan as a guiding document that you can refer back to at any time. This is a great way to focus your thoughts and helps you give consideration to things that may get missed otherwise.
The First Step
The very first step on your journey to becoming a freelancer is to decide exactly what work you want to do. If you have an obvious skill that will get you paid as a freelancer, that’s the place to start. If you have a day job, it’s possible that that skill is in demand and you could easily find work on the open market. Doing something you know how to do well, is the best scenario because you don’t have to train in order to branch out on your own.
If you search on one of the many freelancer websites, you’ll be quickly able to see the kind of work that’s on offer in your chosen field. You can also see the kind of money that clients are willing to pay, which will not only help you decide your own fees but will allow you to more accurately predict your income based on the hours you’re able to work. This information can go into your business plan and you’ll be able to see if the idea stacks up before you start.
Have a look for work that is similar to your chosen topic, because there may be other opportunities that you hadn’t considered. For example, a bookkeeper may be very good with certain spreadsheet software and there could be a lot of work in helping people with issues relating to that, rather than just bookkeeping. There are always side-skills to your main work, so it’s worth thinking creatively sometimes.
How to Find Freelance Work
The world of online freelancing is huge, but it’s not the only place you can find work. You could advertise in a local paper for clients if you think your particular skill is needed in your town or city. Online freelancer websites tend to charge quite high fees, so working in the real world could result in you earning more per job. There are many jobs that simply do not transfer online, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a market for those services.
You’ll need to consider the cost of professional services because freelancing is still running a business. While many of the online freelancing websites have systems to deal with payments, etc. you won’t have access to these tools if you’re operating in the real world. The ability to easily generate invoices for your clients will be vital. This is, after all, how you’ll get paid on time and maintain positive cash flow. There are many apps to help with your accounting needs, so do your research and find out what works best for you.
Freelancing can be a very rewarding career choice, but it’s probably wise to not give up the day job until you’re well established on your own. If you have an income, try to hold on to it as long as possible, as this helps you greatly during the early weeks and months. Making the jump to freelancing too early, can result in undue financial pressure, which is the main reason new businesses fold.
If you can do what you love as a freelancer, that’s a big bonus. It means that you’ll never feel like you’re having to work hard to make an income. If you can’t work in your passion, the next best thing is to do what you know you can do easily. This will mean that you’re not quickly out of your depth and not being able to cope with the work.
Wrapping It Up
Above all, treat any venture into freelancing as a business, not just a hobby. You’ll need to keep records of your work and be profitable, just like any other business. The only reason to start and run a business is to make a profit and be able to pay yourself a good wage. If the figures don’t stack up, or you can’t ever make enough by striking out on your own, you’ll need to think carefully about whether it’s worth the risk.
Here’s what to do next…
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