Ahhhh, the idea of freelancing. It appeals to everyone, doesn’t it? Wake up at the time you like, walk into your beautifully stocked kitchen to make a cup of coffee, catch up with news before you fire up the laptop to start work that you absolutely love… and get paid for it.
Sounds like the dream? You bet it is.
Except that it’s not exactly like that. Whatever notion you have about freelancing, scratch that. Because like all other 9-to-5, freelancing is also a job that you need to get yourself ready for. If not, it’s actually longer than your usual office hours and can take up more of your effort and time!
But that doesn’t mean you can’t live the freelance life. In fact, with what’s going on right now with COVID and all, you may even think that freelancing is probably more suited for you, which isn’t entirely false because a lot of companies are actually looking at engaging contractors instead of full-timers.
You still need to stand out as a freelancer though like how you need to stand out in a full-time job to be a successful freelancer. The trick? Get all these five things sorted before you actually start freelancing. Ready? Go.
#1 A skill that you can make money from
Freelancing is offering a skill to someone else who needs it and will pay you for it. And it must be a skill that’s in demand or requires some sort of expertise to actually be able to market it. Say you have some baking skills. There is a difference between being able to bake bread and making great bread where there is a market out there for. The latter is something you can monetise from, especially if there is a demand for it. Or maybe you know a thing or two about designing websites. To be a successful freelancer, you will need to know how to create eye-catching websites instead of your regular run of the mill ones.
#2 An idea
Ok so you got the skills. Now how are you going to market that? How do you plan to use that skill that make you some money? This is a good starting point before you think of freelancing, to be clear about what differentiates you as a business and what you can offer potential customers. Are you great at writing and photography? You may want to package the two together and offer social media copywriting plus photography services.
Most experts recommend that you have up to six months of expenses in an emergency fund. This is most important as a freelancer because you might not get paid until the third month in! And who knows how many customers you’ll get on your first year. Also, don’t forget with freelancing you have to bear the expenses, like your own laptop to get work done. Would you have enough money to replace the laptop if anything happens? Perhaps the best way to start your freelance career is to do it on the side while you still have a day job. Build your targets and clientele as well as a steady income from side hustling before you take the leap to go full-time freelancing.
We don’t expect you to have a huge list of clients but if you have some potential ones whom you think you can sell your services to, that’s one step up. Try to get two to three regular clients before you quit your job to be a freelancer to have some form of monetary security. Then have a list of whom you think will need your services and start contacting them, sharing your resume. Or perhaps your work lets you mingle with all the right customers? Make the effort to network with them, get their contacts, build a database of potential clients, and email them when you’ve decided to go freelance for real to see if there’s any potential there. Introduce yourself as “so and so from that networking event”. Chances are clients are more likely to engage you if they’ve actually had some form of interaction with you.
Remember that wake up anytime you want scenario? Yah it doesn’t work that way. Sure you don’t need to clock in to the office at 9am but that doesn’t mean you get to sleep in till 11 and start work only after lunch. That’s a lot of productive hours wasted! Many people go into freelancing, looking forward to the flexibility. But remember, your clients are folks who work normal business hours and they are probably contacting you then. It won’t look good if a customer’s call comes in and you’re still lazing in bed.
Photo by LAUREN GRAY on Unsplash