Freelancer – the clue is in the name. The feeling of freedom from having an employer; no structured hours, unlimited income, working for yourself. Sounds absolutely perfect doesn’t it? So many people think, ‘I can do this for myself’, ‘I should be working for myself’, ‘I could earn more money if I worked from home’. Absolutely, all possibly true but are you sure you’re ready for the world of freelancing? Check out our key questions before you take that leap of faith into being self-employed and becoming a freelancer.
1. What is the biggest appeal?
Do you want more control over the work you do? Do you want your own business? Do you need to be at home because of family commitments but still want to work? If you can say yes to these, then maybe freelance work is for you. But, and here’s the hard part, if you want to be a freelancer because you hate your job, your commute or any other negative reason for wanting to work more flexibly then maybe freelancing isn’t for you. The best freelancers are those who do what they love, not because they don’t want to work for someone else.
2. How committed are you?
Freelance workers face a constant battle having to explain that they don’t work when they want, the world outside freelancing thinks you spend all day doing nothing and then maybe an hour-or-so a day of work. But that’s not real life. In fact, most freelancers I know work longer hours and more weekends than anyone in a so called ‘normal job’. It’s hard; it’s just you, there’s no one to delegate to, you have to take on everything – getting the work, doing the work, checking the work and chasing up the payment. And of course, getting it right. It’s great to have flexibility but don’t assume it’s easy. So ask yourself how committed you are to doing, well, everything.
3. Have you got a freelance personality?
Sounds like a strange question I know, but if you are focused on the benefits like flexibility, working from home, not having to dress up for work (yes, we all work in our pyjamas sometimes!), then maybe you need to ask a few more questions. Can you manage without knowing how much you will earn each month? If you’re sick you still have to work? You don’t get paid for holidays and there is no rhyme nor reason to how and when work comes in? If you’re not adaptable, you can’t freelance, it’s that simple.
4. Have you got any support?
You might be working alone but you do need a network of support, both personal and professional. Do you know a friendly accountant? Lawyer? Printer and IT technician? All the things you take for granted in an office have to be found by a freelancer. So, ask yourself who is in your support network and are they reliable, cost-effective and available to help when you need it?
5. Are you a spider?
Yep, spiders weave webs and you need to cast a wide net to have a good network as a freelancer. Being based in a city like London is perfect for lunch dates, business seminars, and events, which are all vital but so is being out there with your social networks. Constant communication and contact are so important if you are to get regular work and build up a reputation.
6. Can you learn to be alone?
Freelancing is a lonely life. There are no co-workers to complain to when a piece of work won’t work, or a client is being super difficult (unless you have pets of course, they are the freelancers most important companion!). So, ask yourself how happy you are being alone all day, and how much you need interaction from others. If you can’t find the balance between feeling alone and being fulfilled by the flexibility, think carefully about a freelance career.
7. Can you budget for your financial freedom?
It’s not vital to have some savings before you walk into your boss and say “I quit”, but it is worth asking yourself if you can manage for a few months if your business doesn’t take off immediately.
8. How assertive can you be?
Yet again, doing it for yourself means asking whether you can do the difficult jobs. Chase up someone who hasn’t paid, get your money but don’t destroy your client relationships. You might be asked to do extra work on a prior brief, without additional fees, or set impossible deadlines. If you think you might be too passive, consider assertiveness training before becoming a freelancer or you might end up working for nothing.
9. How organised are you?
Are you organised? We aren’t talking about OCD here but being organised as a freelancer is not about being perfect, it’s about customising your environment so that it works for you. Staying on top of your inbox, your filing and importantly, your invoices, is one of the best things you can do to make freelancing work for you. Whatever system you have, as long as it works for you that’s okay – it’s your business.
10. Can you compartmentalise your work and home life?
One of the biggest questions that freelancers forget to ask themselves is how they can separate home and work when they work from home. Piles of work in all the living spaces means they never really switch off. So, ask yourself if you have somewhere in your home that can become your ‘office’. It can be a desk, a room, or even a specific corner. But having that separation is the difference between being suffocated by your work and genuinely loving it.
There you have it, 10 questions that can give you a check list on whether freelancing is for you. If you answer yes to most then our advice is to go for it with gusto. You may find it hard, but you’ll never regret your decision to follow a dream and a passion. Love what you do and it won’t feel like work!
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Ellie Richards is an online Marketing Manager for PhD Writing company Original PhD. She specialises in research, content and article writing on various topics, including Education, Marketing, and Technology.