Getting Started

5 things to consider before becoming a freelancer

how-to-become-a-freelancer

No set hours, no dress code and no boss. The life of a freelancer sounds like the dream situation for many average workers, especially those who have skills in writing, design or coding. With these skills, the reality of becoming a remote worker is not a far off dream as it is for others.

But, it is important to take a step back and consider what it actually means to be a freelancer before taking the leap. Quitting your job and realising it’s not actually for you can be a stark reality to face.

1) It’s a Solo Career Path

There’s no office water cooler in your home office, nor is there an opportunity to turn to your co-worker and have a chat about the weather. For some, this can be a very lonely path. It is good for those who have an erratic schedule, kids who need varying amounts of attention or someone who thrives on work hours that are outside of the 9 to 5.

However, for some people, the isolation that comes with freelancing can cause anxiety or even depression. Freelancers who begin to feel this way should get out of the house as often as possible - even if it’s simply scheduling coffee with a friend or taking part in a sports activity twice a week. A break from the norm and social interaction is needed to keep the average freelancer sane.

Networking can also be a great way to ensure that you get socialisation as a freelancer. Whether online or off, not only can you meet new people but you could also get more work from the endeavour!

2) Money Talks

Freelancing does not come with a set salary. One month you may be swimming in work and watching your bank account grow healthily, whereas the next you may be struggling to remember the meaning of the word client. It’s an insecure way to make a living - any prospective freelancer needs to be aware and prepared for this.

Also, leaving the world of full-time work can remove important factors such as health insurance, retirement funds and other company benefits. Paying out for this alongside rent, savings, bills and the simple cost of living can see your freelancing money not stretch as far as you would have hoped.

If you generally struggle to save money or keep track of your finances - even with a regular income - then freelancing may not be for you. Doing your own finances, taxes and sorting out the right freelancers insurance can be next to impossible if you don’t have a firm grasp on your budget.

3) Legal Factors

As a freelancer, you are considered a sole trader. But, this can open you up to a world of legal problems that are typically covered by an employer in the permanent career path. Setting yourself up as a limited company can be one way in which you mitigate this legal risk to yourself.

Creating your own limited company can help to separate you and your work. Protecting your personal funds in the case of your company financially struggling or folding, or in the case that a client sues. Having a company in place helps to prevent the client from going after you or your personal money.

Having legal contracts in place is also integral to protecting yourself from any repercussions. A written agreement can help protect your income also, as having written proof of your agreement with a client can help you to claim back money owed in the case of no payment. Terms and conditions alongside a privacy policy are also important to have on your website if you are selling a product, as it protects both you and any visitor to your site.

4) Firm Handed Approach

Sometimes clients don’t want to pay you. Sometimes clients want things on an impossible time scale. Sometimes it can feel like you’re just being set up to fail. For these situations, having a firm hand is vital to help keep your head above water. Learning to say ‘no’ is almost as important as the skill that allows you to freelance in the first place.

If you find that you’re more of a ‘yes person’ then freelancing may not be a career path that you can thrive in.

5) Organisation is King

Deadlines. Client logins. Invoices. Taxes. Emails. Lots and lots of emails.

Keeping on top of everything can feel like a monumental task at the best of times, but even more so when you are a freelancer responsible for the running of a small business. Ultimately, that’s what you are. A small business with all of the paperwork and administration that comes with it - all of which you have to do by yourself.

If keeping things in order is a struggle of yours, then keeping track of your freelancing career may be a struggle in the beginning. However, learning to become organised is not impossible!

Purchase a file for your tax returns and insurance documents. Invest in an accounting software that works for you and can help you to invoice your clients with ease. Create folders in your email account that will help you deal with issues in order of priority. Use a calendar that can help you keep on top of all your deadlines, those are important after all!

There a lot of things that need to be organised as a freelancer, if it seems like too much now then imagine what it will be like during the everyday struggle of freelancing. Set firm organisation in place from day one to enjoy true success as a freelancer.

So there you have it, the top considerations that you need to make before you take the leap into freelance writing for good. Ensure that you consider everything carefully before you leave the city centre office in exchange for your home office.

About the author

Zack Halliwell is a lover of long walks with his dog during the day and a freelance writer by night. Kind of like Batman (coincidentally the name of his dog). Find him @ZackHalliwell on Twitter.

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