Being a freelancer is fun. You get to work for yourself. Yes, you’re right: no boss leaning over your shoulder, or battling the early commute’s traffic. It does have its benefits.
According to Forbes and Tech.co, the freelance industry has grown and will continue to drastically. If you’re thinking about becoming a freelancer, or already building up your business on the side you’re in good company.
But before you can begin working at 10:30 a.m., or leave work at 2:00 p.m. on Fridays, a few things should be in place.
Have a few clients
I’m all for taking good risks, and perhaps living on the edge a bit. However, if you’re going to quit your day job to begin a business, you need to ensure you actually do have business. While working that 9-5, start building clientele for several months. The freelance business can fluctuate. Each month you probably won’t have the same amount of clients. If you have business steadily, it’s a sign there is at least some demand for your work.
Know thy budget, and create one
You’ll want to live on a pretty tight budget when you give up that steady, guranteed paycheck. Even if you have enough clients and business is good, you may run into the occasional customer who pays late, or really late, all for which you want to have accounted. Know what your business expenses are (assuming you already know your personal ones). Maybe you’re a graphic designer whose company pays for the Adobe Suite, but now as a freelancer you’ll have to purchase it yourself. You’ll want a mailing address, business cards, among other things to get started and keep you going. Be sure to factor these in to know what you can afford to spend.
Have some type of schedule
Yes, I know. You thought you quit the rigid 9-5 so you can determine your own hours. This is true. While it will vary and may not be a fixed schedule, you should have one. Maybe you’ll work from 10-2, break for a few hours to enjoy the day, and pick up during the evening. Whatever you decide, it will help you be disciplined. Remember, freelancing doesn’t mean you are completely free. You are your business, and need a routine to keep you in business.
Depending upon the nature of your work, you may have to be open while the 9 to 5’ers are working. If they need to contact you, you’ll want hours when they can expect to reach you. My first month as a freelancer didn’t contain scheduled hours. Some morning I worked into the late afternoon, other times caught the night-owl fever. After creating scheduled office hours for my clients, it was much easier for them to know if they contacted me at x-time, they would hear from me by x-time. Do I work outside of those hours? Absolutely. But, if a client reaches out to me at 6:00 p.m. on a Friday, they understand they won’t hear from me until Monday morning. It frees me up to work more also, and not feel so obligated to respond right away.
Remember why you quit your 9-5
OK. Maybe you’re a freelancer for another reason: laid off, or another circumstance. That’s cool too. (It may be a blessing in disguise.) One of the many benefits of freelancing is determining what’s important and when. Want to take the day off to attend a conference, or fun event? Go for it. Work on an off-day instead. Does an hour lunch seem too short? Extend it to shortly under two. While you’ll still want to maintain good business practices, it’s important to enjoy the freedom you do have working for yourself that you otherwise wouldn’t have doing so for someone else.
One of the greatest parts of being a freelancer is being able to enjoy life more. For me, I can pick up my laptop and work from a park; I frequent rooftops and bookstores. Recently, I feel in love with co-working because I did miss having collegues around. On rainy days, or times when I just want to relax more, I work from my home office. Find what works best for you, and enjoy it fully.