For many working Americans, the ultimate dream is to create and maintain a freelance career. After all, this is the chance to do the work you love on your own schedule, all without having a boss breathing down your neck. Freelance work is very rewarding, and many have turned it into a full-time job, but you should expect a learning curve.
You likely won’t have full-time work lined up on day one as you will quickly find out that it is your responsibility to find clients, set your rates, create a workspace, and manage your finances on your own. It won’t always be easy but in the end, you could have the dream career you always wanted. Here are some considerations to keep in mind and how to become truly successful.
Consider the Financial Aspect
The most important thing about freelance work that you need to know is that you will be fully responsible for finding your own work, and only once you find gigs will you earn the money you need to survive. This is why one of the most important tips we can provide is to not quit your regular day job until you have established your freelance career and you have money coming in regularly that sustains you so you can go full-time without concern about not paying your bills.
In addition to the regular income you receive from your non-freelance job, you are also likely getting health benefits that you will need to find yourself once you are on your own. One way is to go through the insurance marketplace in your state, where you can get insurance regardless of your employment status. You may also choose to join a spouse’s or partner’s health insurance plan at their employer.
An important aspect of working freelance that many beginners forget is that taking out taxes and paying the appropriate amount come April is completely on you. A good rule of thumb is to put 20-30% of your earnings into savings in preparation for tax time. You can send your estimated tax payments to the IRS every quarter or pay it all at the end of the year, but you will want to have more than enough saved at that time to avoid falling behind.
Once you have figured out the financial aspects and you have an established career, you might then consider quitting your day job.
Finding Work is On You
Now that you know how much money you’ll need to earn every month, you need to find work to create that income. What you have to realize is that it is completely your responsibility to find jobs and clients to make that happen. In the very beginning, you may want to use a platform that focuses on providing work to freelancers, such as Freelancer.com, where companies go to find people like you to fill roles.
Once you get your feet wet with real jobs, you will want to use the relationships with past clients who are satisfied with your work to gain referrals so you can continue to build your business. Add all of these gigs onto your resume and begin sharing that with potential customers and your online network. Your resume should list all of your achievements with past clients. To get a leg up, elaborate on how your writing helped the company. So rather than just saying that you wrote product descriptions, state that you wrote “product copy that helped XYZ company to increase sales by 10%.”
Once you officially start gaining your own clients, you will want to set your rates to not only allow you to put a roof over your head but also to pay for the benefits and tax needs listed above. Whether you are a freelance writer, tutor, or anything in between, the best approach is to research the rates that everyone from beginners to veterans are charging for their services. One way to do that is to browse freelance work websites and see the variety of prices that people there charge. You could also reach out to a veteran freelancer in your field for advice.
Structure Will Be Required
Although there are many perks to working as a sole freelancer, there are some personal concerns that you will want to be aware of so you aren’t facing undue stress. For instance, you may feel the urge to work all day and night to complete tasks and find clients, but doing so could leave you fatigued and exhausted to the point where you could get sick. That is why it is incredibly important during these early stages to create a set schedule of hours that you work every day, so you have time to rest and get ready for tomorrow.
This work/life balance is essential for a successful career. Not only will it help you retain your sanity, but by going out after work and seeing friends and family, you will fight the feelings of isolation and anxiety that often have deep psychological effects on those working from home. In addition to talking to loved ones, you may also decide to work in a public place like a nearby coffee shop, so you aren’t stuck home alone all day.
If you do decide to work in public, you’ll want to be aware of another aspect of freelance work that is of utmost importance, and that is protecting the data of your clients. There are a lot of cybercriminals that can use the information on your system to scam your customers and you don’t want to gain a bad reputation. To fight this possibility, make sure that your computer and programs are password-protected and have antivirus software installed on your computer with scans conducted every week so you can catch any potential viruses or malware.
As you can see, there are many boxes that you’ll want to check before your freelance business gets off the ground, but with effort, it is possible. By considering the tips above and taking it one step at a time, you can have a successful freelance career sooner than you may realize.
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