Our Freelance Essentials for Beginners - We were all there once!
Guess what? Freelancing is on it's way to being the majority of the workforce within a decade! Whether you're seeking a change from your current gig, or fresh out of college checking out your options, you may want to think about Freelancing.
I often recommend it but adivse to start small before quitting your job to see if it's for you. It is a lifestyle change, one that you have to prepare for and get used to.
Build a network - you may have opted to go with Freelancer Platforms like Upwork and Guru.com with a community already built in, but even so, you might find some useful tips and help from other online communities like Facebook groups or Google+. Another option, check out Spark on Freelancer's Union for local meet-ups.
ALWAYS use a contract
If you're not a fan of freelance platforms and have cliets outside of them, you probably want to have a contract written up with clear expectations and financial requirements.
You'd be surprised that taking one at their word doesn't always hold up! I was a victim of non-payment but it was really my fault. Even for the brief time I did work, I should not have started without confirming payment and receiving at least half up-front.
You don’t need a fancy-pants lawyer to draft client contracts for you; you can use something as simple as a free contract template. If you’re in New York City, the Freelance Isn’t Free law mandates that employers use contracts with clear payment terms for any work over $800.
Like I just stressed above, payment is usually why we do what we do, unless you're bartering. Setting up payment tools, whether it's simply Paypal, Quickbooks or something more elaborate, it's a must when trying to keep track of funds, especially during tax time!
Health Issues Solved
One question asked a lot is about health benefits. Yes, technically freelancers are self-employed, in fact...we're entrepenuers if you want to get fancy about it and yes, we do have to worry about benefits just like everyone else. That doesn't mean it's impossible or overly-expensive.
Depending on where you live and how much you're bringing in, you can choose a health plan that works for you.
Scheduling Yourself Wisely
We all know how easy it is to look at your work email on the weekend or take a call from a client during dinner but when you work at home those lines get blurred because you work where you live. There's no escape from the office to home or vise-vera, it just is what it is and you need to actively work on how you schedule your time.
Getting caught up in a project happens and that's ok, but when you're suddenly spending more time on that spreadsheet and less time enjoying yourself, burn out will happen. Of that I have no doubt.
It happened to me. The money was so good and the work was enjoyable but literally 12 hours a day and 2 on Sunday got to me after a while. I think I was a year and half into that schedule when I finally woke up and thought that something needed to change. I ended up taking a job I liked less, working less time, but enjoying it a whole lot less than the other project.
You have to follow your gut and work that calendar like nobody's business! Also....don't ever forget it's ok to say NO!
It's ok if you're kicking yourself under the table for having said "yes" one too many times on projects that were less than desirable. We forget that by saying "no", that we're saying "yes" to something else. Something that was meant for us more than the thing we forced.
If it doesn't work, it doesn't work! That's ok!
I happen to love freelancing! I've been holding it down for about 4 years now and loving almost every second, even the ones where I may have gotten burned a little. At least I learned and won't make the same mistake again. On all the projects that I've enjoyed, and that's most of them... I've connected with awesome new people, learned new skills, and added another notch to my ever-growing resume.
I feel as though freelancing has opened the door to a new way of living for me. No longer do I wonder how I can take that vacation, when I can take my work with me! Working from the comfort of my own home allows me to be me, in all my glory....morning, noon and night! Yes, it gets lonely not seeing faces everyday but I certainly don't lack in communication. I speak to more people from around the globe than most do in their entire lives.
All that being said, the lifestyle is not for everyone, but it could be for you!