So you want to go freelance?

Posted on Jul 26th, 2012 | Planning

This year I went freelance and it was a big and scary jump from the comfort of a 9-5. It was something I’d always aspired to do but never thought it could actually become a reality.

There is a bit of a myth about freelancers – that we occasionally do a bit of work and the rest of the time we just sit around in our pants. Sure, sometimes this is true but most of the time we are busy working longer and harder than we ever did in a permanent job. So if you are considering going freelance then have a look at my freelance checklist below to see if it’s the right move for you.

You are a risk taker

Well, I cheated on this one because I’m as cautious as they come! However, every now and then I’ll find myself standing on the edge of the unknown, peering over to see if I want to dive in. When it came to freelancing I was given a big push into that great big hole of unknown; I was made redundant. It was, however, ultimately my decision to take the risk to go freelance rather than getting another full time role. So even if you don’t see yourself as a risk taker, sometimes you can end up being one anyway.

You are self-motivated

If you aren’t self-motivated then to be entirely honest you are pretty much doomed in the world of freelancing. Freelancers need to be able to motivate themselves; whether that is forcing yourself out of bed at 7am every day (even though you know you could get away with staying there until 10am) or keeping yourself going even when things get tough – because things will get tough.

You’ll make mistakes and you won’t have anyone else to blame but yourself. You’ll have days where you have way too much work, feel stressed out and miserable and it’ll all still be there in the morning. You’ll need to push yourself out of your comfort zone to get new clients, so whether you hate speaking on the telephone or wearing a suit to a pitch – you’ll have to keep making yourself plug away at your business because you are the single driving force that keeps it all going.

You are organised and efficient

Freelancing means being able to juggle a million things at once. I might be a digital marketing consultant by trade but I’m now also a receptionist, bookkeeper, sales woman and account manager. Being organised is crucial in freelancing. You’ll be surprised how an eight hour day feels like no time at all (I swear – time has actually transformed since going it alone) and as a result you’ll need to make use of every minute to ensure you are running your business efficiently.

You have a skill that’s in demand

This might sound obvious – but it’s true. Not everyone has a skill that is in demand. Or perhaps your market is already oversaturated. Before taking the leap think about whether there is demand for what you are offering. You’ll want to know that making the jump into the world of freelancing will pay off.

You can afford it

Unless a whole bunch of projects land in your lap whilst you are considering going freelance, you will need to have some fall-back money.

Going from a steady income to not knowing whether you’ll make any money next month is a big change. You may have decided to take a risk by going freelance, but you should make sure it’s a calculated one. It might take a good few months to get yourself up and running and for the money to start coming in. Having some savings in the bank to cushion the transition is a must.

Sit down and budget; figure out how long you can get by on savings and whether this is a risk you are willing to take. You need to be prepared that it might not work out. Of course, the alternative is that it’s the best decision you ever made! You just need to be realistic.

You like your own company

Freelancing can be a lonely old business, especially if you are working from home. Even those that like their own company can start to go a bit stir-crazy if left to their own devices for too long!

Of course there are ways and means around this; coworking, meeting up with other freelancers or networking events, making plans to see friends and family, and even owning a pet (my cat Rocky is half the reason why I’m not officially bonkers already). However, a lot of what you do will be on your own – so it’s important that this is something you don’t mind. I may love socialising, but I’m also very comfortable spending time on my own.

You aren’t afraid of hard work

If you think becoming a freelancer means lots of long weekends and just a few hours of work, then think again! Freelancing is often feast or famine, which means if you are experiencing the aforementioned long weekends, chances are you haven’t got enough work coming in and instead will be busy worrying about where your next pay cheque will come from.

The life of a freelancer is hard graft. Breaks? What are those? Evenings? Weekends? Ok, ok – that’s a little extreme but during busy periods it can be like that. There is no extra resource when things get hectic; you just have to slog your guts out until it’s done.

So you’ve made it this far and still think going freelance is for you? Hooray! You can now be let in on the secret joys of freelancing – because believe you me; the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

  • You control who you work for and what projects you take on
  • You have the freedom to work whatever hours you choose
  • You no longer dread Mondays
  • You get a real sense of satisfaction when you win a pitch
  • You actually enjoy the projects you are working on
  • You get to work with people you choose to work with, and therefore like!
  • You can decide you don’t want to work next Tuesday and instead go sit on the beach on the only sunny day in Summer
  • You can listen to whatever music you like
  • You can wear whatever you like
  • Your life feels much fuller because you are actually happy with your job
  • You no longer feel like time drags – but instead marvel at how quickly it whizzes by
  • You find yourself smiling a lot more than you used to
  • You finally have job satisfaction

Is now the time for you?

If you reckon it’s time for a career change and are considering setting up your own business, visit our #GetStarted homepage for free resources and advice on how to make it happen.

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Written by Fran Swaine

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