The freelancers’ era is coming.
The way we work is changing. Gone are the days of the traditional 9-to-5. We’re entering a new era of work: project-based, independent, exciting, potentially risky, and rich with opportunities.
– Freelancing in America: An independent study commissioned by Freelancers Union & Elance-oDesk
According to a recent survey, 34 percent of U.S. workers are doing freelance work. And a study conducted in 2010 projects that by 2020, 40% of Americans will be freelancers. Social networking and the general economic crisis have contributed to the shift away from the traditional full-time work, so younger workers have reinvented themselves to work in a new way. These workers will drive the economy to the place where freelancing is the new normal.
For those with a traditional 9-to-5, the thought of that regular paycheck disappearing can be terrifying as they consider a move into freelancing. Freelance income does fluctuate, and it will change in the way you manage your finances. But you can survive (and even thrive!) without that paycheck every other Friday.
Think freelancing might be the right path for you? Let’s dive into how to be a successful freelancer, and cut your dependence from a regular paycheck.
Are you thinking about freelancing?
Some people think about freelancers as people who don’t have a “real” job, don’t pay taxes, or don’t have health insurance, but it’s not always the case. Of course, there are a few disadvantages to working as a freelancer, but there are also plenty of good things you won’t find in a traditional job.
In fact, many people chose the freelancer lifestyle because they prefer the freedom it can bring. Some do it for extra money so they don’t solely depend on their existing (and probably precarious) income. Others do it because they don’t function well with a full-time schedule, or because they just can’t find a regular job in these shaky economic times we live in.
Creative people often choose this professional option because freelancing offer them flexibility, and brings opportunities to showcase their work in an infinite variety of ways. Almost anyone can be a freelancer: from journalists, accountants, financial consultants, and lawyers, to graphic designers, engineers, artists, and writers.
Any task you can name, you can probably do as a freelancer. But can you make a living and pay your bills? That’s a different story, and an important one to consider.
Have A Vision And Change Your Mindset
So you have an idea of what you’d like to do, and the necessary skills to make it real and profitable. Now you just have to fight a bit against the inner voice that is telling you, “You can’t do it. You won’t do it.”
Once you’re determined to succeed as a freelancer, you must change your mindset. The thing you do well is not a hobby anymore, even if you really like to do it. Now it’s a business, so dedicate yourself to your craft.
Organized Your Time And Find The Ideal Workspace
You don’t have to be at the office from nine to five, and that’s a good thing. Or not. Because now you must be responsible, and super organized. It’s your time and it’s your business. Set a clear list of achievable tasks every day, and try to stick to the plan as much as possible. Define your working hours and follow the schedule. You will have to be flexible sometimes, as deadlines can change too, but having a plan to deviate from is much better than no plan at all!
One of the distinct advantages of being a freelancer is that in most fields you can work from anywhere with a wifi connection! (Author’s note: I could be writing this now just in front of the “La Sagrada Familia” in Barcelona, which is true, or from a beach in the Gold Coast of Australia, which would be the dream.) However, when taking your freelance work seriously on a daily basis, you must find your ideal workspace to get the job done efficiently.
Specialize And Show Your Work
Don’t be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. As a freelancer, find your niche and specialize. Don’t be just a photographer. Instead, promote yourself as a travel photographer focused on the surfing lifestyle.
“You may be the best designer/illustrator in the world, but if no one sees your work, you won’t get commissioned.”
–Illustrator Rod Hunt
Work as hard as you can to be seen by as many people as possible. Let people know what are you doing, and why they should care. Invest the necessary time and resources in promoting your work –have a portfolio, a website, and be active on social media. In the freelancer economy, you are the brand. Make sure your name gets out there!
Believe In Yourself And Avoid Burnout
Starting a new freelance business isn’t easy, but believing in yourself is what can make or break your business. If you doubt you will find success, you won’t find it. Learn from your mistakes, and endeavor to persevere.
When you’re working hard to build a business, don’t forget to take a break (and holidays) once in a while. It’s a difficult thing to do when you are a freelancer trying to climb your way up, but it’s productive and will recharge your batteries.
Freelancing is a marathon, not a sprint. But like any challenge, with a smart work ethic and persistent effort, you can do it!