7 Vital Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Freelancer
August 29, 2015
August 29, 2015
Being your own boss is tempting, but switching your career from being a full-time employee to a freelancer can be a thought-provoking decision. Of course, the thought to bid good-bye to your steady job is probably the result of your feeling overworked and burned out more often, which seems to have taken a horrific toll on your physical and mental stamina. Add to it the brutal schedule, office politics, and psychological burden and stress of not getting exactly what you deserve for your hard work, perseverance, and commitment, you are almost certain to say it quits to your regular job.
This is exactly what I did seven years ago! But my decision didn’t come all of a sudden. I did introspect to ask myself if this was the best decision I could make and whether going for the magical world of freelancing was the right choice.
My self-confidence guided my way toward the freelancing route.
True, freelancing is a lucrative career opportunity, with the promise of autonomy, flexibility, and control, but getting success in the freelance field isn’t a cakewalk. Quitting your 9 to 5 job for a freelancing career requires special skills and the ability to work on your own and market yourself better than others to prospective clients. Doing so can help you outshine your competition and get a stream of clients to kick-start your career.
Here are 7 questions to ask yourself before making this life-changing decision and giving up your status as a regular employee:
1. Can you work on your own?
Are you a self-motivated individual who can go it all alone? Do you have confidence to work alone? Remember, working alone isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It is not something that everyone can do, especially if you enjoy being in the company of others.
If you envision working for yourself in your own company, freelancing is for you, with zero office drama and no coworkers to disturb you. But if you are someone who does best when there is a manager or senior to be accountable to, you are probably in the wrong boat.
True, freelancing offers you autonomy to work the way you want, flexibility to work at your own pace and schedule, and control over what you do. But it does require good organization skills, since you are your own boss and the entire burden is on your shoulders. As a freelance professional, you need market your services to sell your skills and also take care of invoicing and paperwork, besides working on the deliverable.
Not only this, you should be ready to give up your free time occasionally for timely completion of the flood of work coming your way. After all, you are working alone! Can you push yourself without anybody having to push you? Deadlines are always tight, and if you cannot meet them, you risk losing the client forever, as you will be seen as unreliable and undisciplined.
Remember, being your own boss doesn’t mean you can be undisciplined. You have to be self-disciplined and sincere about your work to keep clients happy and coming back for more.
2. Do you have a marketable skill?
When your day job feels like hell, you are almost certain to entertain thoughts of switching over to freelancing. But this does not mean that you will immediately taste success in the freelance industry. Of course, you will need to pass through a lot of hurdles and spend time finding new clients. Unless you are well-established in the freelancing marketplace, you will need to look for work all the time.
So do you boast a skill that is in demand? If you’re unsure whether you have saleable skills that prospective clients would be willing to pay for, you may have to rethink your decision to choose freelancing as a career.
Introspect to find out what you are good at and how you will spread the news about your work and skills. Don’t market yourself as a generalist; it is important to call yourself an expert in your industry. Peer Hustle is one platform where you can search clients that are looking for your services. Spread the word about yourself on these platforms, declaring your announcement in the freelancing marketplace and telling what unique value you bring to the table.
3. Do you have financial support?
Money doesn’t fall from trees in the freelancing industry. It requires perseverance, commitment, and lot of effort to succeed if you decide to choose freelance as a career. Of course, you have control over how much you earn in this industry. The greater the number of hours you put into each job, the more you can make!
But you need a strong portfolio to attract long-term clients and land big jobs, which can prove to be an income goldmine if you continue to keep clients happy with timely, quality submissions.
However, before quitting your regular job, make sure you have adequate financial support to take you through the initial dry period when you jump onto the freelancing bandwagon. Build your expenses rationally so that your savings are a savior when you hit a dry patch.
As a self-employed professional, you need to be able to keep at least 40% of your paycheck for retirement, health & life insurance, taxes, and vacations. Consider which perks you would like to keep and how they will be paid.
4. Do you have a network?
Do you have a strong network of professionals? Are you connected to other professionals in the industry? The most successful freelancers are those who are connected to others, as it is these connections that become an important source of business.
But this does not mean you need to feel distraught if you aren’t part of an extensive network.
Attend conferences, webinars, reach out to professionals through social networks, and share your unique skill sets in an on-demand freelance marketplace, such as Peer Hustle. Spread the word what you’re up to.
Encourage your friends, relatives, and neighbors to spread the word about your work specialization & skills. An important part of your network is a friend who is already freelancing has in-depth knowledge of the industry and can point you to resources. It will help to seek advice from those that have more experience in freelancing industry than you.
Or you may approach your previous employer to be your first client. If you enjoy a good rapport with your boss, do not hesitate to ask them if they would accept your plea to give you work on a freelance basis, so that you could continue your relationship with the company.
5. Do you have a strong portfolio?
What is it that brings clients to your doors? Of course, it is your strong portfolio that clearly details all the experience you have under your belt and talks about your specialization & skills with illustrations and samples.
Does your portfolio set you apart from the competition? Do you have something unique to offer clients? Or what unique value would you bring to your client’s business? Does your portfolio talk clients through your expertise and skills?
Remember, it’s your portfolio where everything starts, so you should have an impressive portfolio that leaves a lasting impression on prospective clients and pulls them toward your services. Tell them why you are different from others and how you can help solve client’s problems.
Establish a connection between your skills and solutions and their problems and you are most likely to land a client and job!
6. Can you interact with clients?
Most freelancers are known to be introverts. Unless you’ve dealt with clients and customers in your office, you may have a tough time handling them when you take to freelancing. Of course, you’ll have to learn to be polite, courteous, and responsive while interacting with clients.
True, in the freelancing industry, you are your own boss, but there is still a “big boss” on top of it all – the client you are working for. Treat your clients like your boss and keep them happy and impressed so that they keep coming back with more lucrative opportunities for you.
As an independent professional, you may find it challenging to negotiate a fair rate for your services with clients. There isn’t anything wrong to start your freelancing career with a low rate. Gradually, as you build your portfolio and reputation and sharpen your skills, you can raise your fee and keep it competitive. Remember, most clients are open to paying more for quality work in the market.
Additionally, another prerequisite for a freelancer is to keep calm even in tiring situations and dealing with tough and difficult-to-please clients. The key is to stay cool and not let your emotions take over.
7. Do you have a dedicated space for working?
As a solopreneur, you are free to choose where you want to work. Whether it’s your home, café, friend’s place, or while moving in a train or by car, you are in full control when it comes to choosing the location of work.
However, this does not mean you do not need a dedicated workstation, especially if you are planning to jumpstart your freelancing career. If you aren’t self-disciplined, it would be hard to taste success in the freelance industry.
Freelancing is just like setting up an office at home, with you as the team leader, employer, accountant, and boss. It is important that you create your daily work schedule and follow it holistically. Having a dedicated work space will help you focus better on the job and take things seriously.
Remember, freelancing is an income goldmine for the right professional, who can exhibit sheer dedication, commitment, confidence, and self discipline – the hallmarks of success in the freelance industry.