2 Questions You Need to Ask Before Starting as a Freelancer
You are wondering whether you can do your work better, make more money or plan your own schedule when you are a freelancer. Indeed, living the freelance life can be great, but it can also be hard. Before starting as a freelancer, you need to think long and hard about the consequences.
In this blog, you will find 2 questions that you need to ask and answer before quitting your 9-to-5 job and starting as a freelancer. After that, you will find 5 business goals that you will need to reach in your first few years of freelancing. Doing so will help you tremendously in the rest of your freelance career.
2 questions to ask and answer before starting as a freelancer
According to Quin Hoskins, there are a few things you need to set straight in your mind about the benefits of freelancing before you type out that resignation letter and slip it onto your boss’ desk.
1. Do you have the essential skills?
Are you 100% certain you have the essential level of skills to leave your current job and do it all by yourself? And if you do have that level of skills, is there a large enough demand for those skills in the freelance market?
You should do your homework: check out the online venues from which you intend to earn a living. Do they exist and do you feel you will be able to work on them easily? If yes, that is perfect; you at least know how you are going to survive in the future.
You also need to check whether you possess the skills of (online) marketing yourself so that you will be able to find enough jobs without depending on other companies’ platforms too much. After all, those platforms can stop being around at any point in time; where will that leave you?
If you are struggling to work out exactly where your future revenue will be coming from, you should definitely not give up your full-time job until things have become much clearer and you have been able to identify a lucrative income stream.
2. Are you financially ready?
You must make sure you are financially stable enough to start working as a freelance provider. Your income is bound to start off low and gradually increase over the months. It is often said that in general, it takes about five years to be financially stable. I have experienced this myself. Can you (or your family) handle that?
5 business goals to reach within two years of starting as a freelancer
Anyone can achieve their dreams as a freelancer if they set their mind to it. Rather than toiling away at it, Abdullahi Muhammed advises you to set and keep business goals for your first couple years, so that you can create a good foundation for the rest of your freelance career. Here are the five important business goals he urges you to remember:
1. Learn a new skill to increase your worth
The reality is, your income potential is limited if you are just a writer or just a social media manager. There is only so much people are willing to pay for this one service. If you develop other skills that help your clients in different areas, you become much more valuable.
Learning new skills will help you offer package deals to new clients so you earn more money for your time investment. For example, a smart writer will take the time to learn SEO research or how to design infographics.
Figure out what skills are in demand related to your niche and capitalize on them to earn more.
2. Keep your clients in balance
Finding work and income stability are real challenges to doing more freelance work. It is true that working with clients can be very volatile. For example, your “regular” customers might disappear for 3 months out of the blue or stop working with you entirely. As a result, one month you can earn very much and the next, you are barely scraping by.
In order to get away from this kind of income instability, you need to keep your clients in balance. When you are first starting out, you might only have 3 clients. If one of them drops you, it is a financial disaster. That is why you need to make sure not one client makes up a huge portion of your income. Muhammed thinks 20% is a good portion: if a client drops off, it will not impact your finances too heavily.
3. Develop a consistent marketing plan
Successful freelancers are always on the lookout for new, higher paying clients, even when their schedule is full. By the two-year mark, you should have a standard marketing strategy that you use consistently to do this.
As mentioned above, you will need great marketing skills for this. If you are new to this, my blog ‘How to Be a Branding Professional as an Entrepreneur’ might get you started.
Identify exactly what you will do to find cold pitch opportunities. How many pitches should you do per month? Develop a plan to broaden your network on social media. Set aside time to work on it every week. Figure out what strategies work best and focus on them.
4. Switch to working on your terms
Probably the best freelancing advice out there is this: never agree to work without advanced payment.
Still, most beginning freelancers do not end up in that situation. They either use a freelancing site that holds their money until the client releases it, or they simply accept payment upon completion of work.
By the time you hit the two-year mark, you should be done working like this. You have experience and hopefully a few testimonials under your belt. New clients (and old ones) should be willing to front at least partial advance payment for work. Preferably, you stop working like this immediately.
Achieve this goal to protect yourself from clients that skip out on the bill. Yes, that will happen. For instance, you can put together contracts or general terms and conditions, or publish a FAQ explaining your requirements for payment, revisions, etc.
5. Earn more than you did at your last desk job
It is really important to get to the point that you earn more than your salaried counterparts. After all, they have lots of benefits that you do not and the taxes on running your own freelance business differ greatly from regular payroll taxes.
Your freelance rates should be padded to make up for the benefits you are missing. Earning 60/hour at a desk job and 85/hour as a freelancer can end up being equivalent if you do the math. Therefore, you must make it a reality early on in your freelance career.
Working as a freelancer
I have written many blogs for freelancers and people who think about becoming a freelancer. I am not saying you should or should not do it, but I am saying you should think long and hard before giving up your 9-to-5 job and starting as a freelancer.