If you are considering pursuing freelancing either as a career or a little job on the side, this quick guide should provide everything you need.
Freelancing is an intriguing lifestyle.
Even with a full-time job on one side, it can make you more cash than you actually expect.
Think about the flexibility, autonomy and the unlimited potentials of making so much, you will find why we love it so much.
However, freelancing does has a lot of mysteries surrounding it.
I have heard a lot of people refer to it as a waste of time or rather something like a hobby. By the end of this quick guide, I believe you will have learnt everything you need to know about being a freelancer.
What do Freelancers do?
Freelancers carry out contracted work for a wide range of clients at a given time.
Some freelancers may also have diverse sets of skills and cater to different industries.
In many countries, a freelancer might be called a self-employed worker or independent contractor.
The bottom line is that a Freelancer is only obligated to a certain client within the duration of a project and may have nothing to do with that client again after the completion of a job.
There are different types of work freelancers do.
In truth, they are everywhere, in both jobs you can find online and offline. However, we are more concerned with online jobs, so here are a few of them.
- Editing and Proofreading
- PR and Marketing
- Transcription jobs
- Data Entry
- Virtual Call Centers
- Virtual Assistant
- Online Tutoring
- Social Media Marketing
- Voice Acting
- Graphic Design
- Website Design
- Website Development
The Pros and Cons of Freelancing
Faced with the fact that you can work from home, it’s easy to see freelancing as attractive stuff, but there’s a lot you will have to deal with.
According to Upwork, people are drawn to freelancing due to its freedom, flexibility and earning potential but many more barriers exist in terms of finding work and income predictability.
Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of building a freelancing career.
- Potentials to make more: Freelancing is a high-risk venture. You can make a lot of money or make a whole lot less. Your salary depends on how many jobs you can get within a time frame. In fact, some freelancers, especially those who have problems controlling their funds, never have a complete picture of their income.
- Play less in Taxes: Freelancers pay the IRS directly, so they have a lot of tax deductions benefits on travel, meals and many more. In addition, the IRS does not withhold state and federal tax from every paycheck.
- Your time, space and decision: It’s all up to you, you are the boss. You can work at any hour in your pyjamas, in a noisy street, while at a convention or even in your bathroom.
- Easy to balance up: Many 9 to 5 jobs have no care about your personal life. It is usually difficult to balance other aspects of your life around it. But with freelancing, for instance, you can spend your mornings with your kids, and begin working after they have left for school.
- Without organizing, you are headed for problems: Freelancing comes with a huge responsibility. You are in charge of your taxes, benefits and accounting. Many freelancers use tools or guides to help them out with this one.
- No work, no pay: There’s no such thing as a paid vacation with a freelancer. Time literally is everything to you. If you can’t work at any time, you won’t get paid for those hours.
- Lures of long hours: Due to the many unknowns in freelancing, there’s always a constant worry about the next paycheck. Many freelancers spend more than 12 hours working and saving up due to the unpredictability of getting jobs.
- It’s all up to you: Everything depends on you. If you are sick for one minute, it might affect your business. You make every decision from selling your services to managing cash flow to bookkeeping. You have got to find time to do all of them.
Getting Started-Do you really want to become a freelancer?
Before diving into freelancing because of its benefits, you have to find answers to questions like. Is freelancing right for you? What kind of niche do you like? Why would you like to freelance?
All of these questions will help you figure out if it truly is for you
- Why would you love to freelance? Are you after the attractions of a flexible schedule or tired of travelling to work? Are you simply bored at work or would like to improve and expand? It’s never easy to understand your true reasons, but you have to outline them. When you dive right in without clear reasons why you will have some problems when the going gets tough.
- Are you comfortable with high risks, and being uncomfortable? I have had to work at birthdays, would you be able to do that? Freelancing is about being uncomfortable. You can sit in a noisy train and have to deal with something. You can have job interviews at any spot even why frying eggs for breakfast. And there’s always more job rejections to deal with.
- What are you good at? This includes your personal and professional skills. You might not be an expert in any of them, but the idea is that you have some dream of becoming very good at them.
- What kind of job would you love to do? Your basic freelancing job should be something you love doing. There will be days you simply don’t want to work but will have to do so, all the same. You should find something that brings you joy. something you feel good about accomplishing and would like to share with friends and family.
Establishing your Freelancing Business
In this section, we will discuss every little step you need to take to start off your freelance career.
To build a successful freelancing career, you can’t ignore any aspect of this section especially if you want to build a full-time career in freelancing.
You can start right now with no names but it is often better to organize every aspect for a more seamless entry into the market.
Step #1: Brand your business
The right way to become more focused on what you do begins with a clear vision.
You should get a personal logo and a complete idea of the freelance business you want to build.
Don’t worry about making it all perfect, you can always change some of your services later, but knowing where you are headed will surely quicken your pace.
So, get a business name, a logo and do the entire design.
Many times, this step is met with lots of confusion.
You will have to pick between using your personal name and a moniker.
With a personal name, you can show off the human side of your business effectively, while a moniker is great if you will be planning on expanding in the future.
Step #2: Get an online identity
Once you have gotten the name and probably the logo you want, you need a dedicated website and social media accounts.
This is where you can display your business names, services, testimonials and portfolio.
It would give your business credibility and show all potential customers that you are serious about what you do.
Whatever you do, your identity, both offline and online should be consistent, it would establish you as a trustworthy freelancer.
However, every platform has its perks. Your website might have everything, but here’s my guide to working out for social accounts.
- Use Facebook to join groups of people with like minds. You can also get a dedicated Facebook page as well but joining or creating groups is often better.
- LinkedIn is excellent for your resume and establishing professional connections
- Twitter can help you meet potential clients, connect with friends and show-off your portfolio
- You can show off dashing pieces of your portfolio on Instagram. It is perfect for making a stunning impression on your potential clients.
Step #3: Register your business
Freelancers enjoy the flexibility around erecting legal structures, but for you, this does not mean you should neglect getting registered.
When you register your business, you carry the responsibility of being serious about your business.
However, you will have to choose between registering as a Limited Liability Company or as a sole proprietor.
As a sole proprietor, you can work from your personal bank account.
But when you register as an LLC and open a dedicated bank account, it helps with protecting your assets.
Step #4: Crafting your Portfolio
Your service page is never enough.
The best way to show clients that you are really good at what you do is through your portfolio.
A portfolio will speak volumes to clients.
It should include strong copies of beautifully written works and testimonials. You can also use your portfolio to sieve out bad clients before contact.
However, you shouldn’t include all your work on it. Display the diversity of your clients, skills and show only the best jobs.
- Carbonmade – architects, animators and illustrators
- Portfolio box: artists, designers, photographers etc.
- Contently – Content creators, writers and journalists
- Behance – UI/UX, illustrators, graphic designers and many more
- Journo Portfolio – Writers and Journalists
Step #5: Setting up your Workspace
You have successfully built your online presence, now you need your physical workspace.
You should know that the right way to stay motivated, focused and productive depends a lot on this step.
Many freelancers work from home, others prefer the coffee shop down the street.
Many others work in bed, couch, dinner table and many other options.
Whichever you choose, make sure it is a spot that keeps you consistently motivated to work. If you will like to work with a company, many cities offer local co-working spaces.
But if you don’t have a budget for that, you can use the local university library, café or coffee shop.
Step #6: Setting your fees
The biggest challenge you will have is setting your rates and discussing them every time you get a new project.
It is awkward, depressing and demands a little grit and flexibility.
You may feel very personal about your fees but you should try to put away from emotions.
Take the economic approach similar to the ways a business owner will schedule their product price.
You may be selling your skills as a service but soon, you will discover that your price is a combination of a lot of things.
To figure out the right price, you can check your industry’s average rates for help. You may also pick the frequency of pay either by tracking your hours or using a fixed pay structure.
Step #7: Getting Jobs and Marketing your Skills
If you went into freelancing without any prior experience, you will have to figure out how to get jobs and market your skills at the same time.
Use common freelance job sites to create a consistent professional image and get your name out there.
It’s a great way to backlink to your website and boost your SEO.
Some common job sites you can use include Upwork, SimplyHired, 99Designs, ProBlogger and CloudPeeps.
You can also join some location-specific freelance community or a network of colleagues and freelancer friends.
Sometimes the right way to build your brand awareness is by beginning from your own backyard.
One more thing, as a newbie, you should also consider writing lots of free and guest articles to build your portfolio.
Step #8: Managing Jobs and Clients
Freelancing means, every decision, mistake, failure and success is up to you.
You have to set deadlines, schedule and pick up when things go wrong.
If you want to avoid some problems, you should invest in project management software. Many of these tools will help you record deadlines, events, important dates, meetings and many more.
Simply setting up a calendar or to-do list might not be enough.
You may need some sort of alarm tool and even an app that can be used to break your project into bits.
Apart from this, you should get official documentation for every business discussed. This includes proposals, contracts and invoices. They will shield you from dealing with bad clients.
Step #9: Finances and Payment options
As a freelancer, you have to be meticulous about everything, beginning from how you invoice to your expenses.
When handling a salaried job, you won’t have to deal with an invoice and its even easier to have a proper outlook of your expenses. Being a freelancer, you won’t enjoy these benefits. So leverage on technological tools that can help you manage your financials especially from a single platform and say goodbye to those problems.
You will also have to do with receiving payments.
An excellent way to leave room for excuses from your client is to sign up for multiple forms of digital payments as well as the old school mailed check systems.
Step #10: Insurance and Taxes
Many people might love the tax season but it can really get messy for the freelancer. You must pay in full every tax season and this might disrupt your cash flow if you are not too careful about it.
An excellent way to get rid of the problem is to keep away 30 per cent of every single invoice no matter the time in the month. By doing this, you will lessen the impact of tax season and stay compliant with the local authorities.
Insurance is also a critical decision to make especially when you have a family to care for.
Be aware that your Insurance plan will be more expensive than company-sponsored benefits, but you can’t neglect to handle it.
Make sure to do your research efficiently before you make that permanent insurance decision.
Freelancing is really amazing. Even with its pitfalls, there’s something substantial about building a brand that has you on the forefront.
If you are still confused about whether you can pull through as a freelancer, you don’t have to make the decision yet.
Here are some ideas to get a feel of this industry. You can join online freelancing communities, get a mentor or even sign up for an online freelancing course. You can equally pick up some free or low paying jobs just to see if you have the skill. Now you have all the resources you need, and with dedication and hard work, you will succeed.
But, are you willing to jump right in?
Are considering becoming a freelancer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.