Five things to keep in mind before you start your freelancing career

Working as a freelancer offers many benefits over a traditional career, but you need to be prepared for the journey, as this piece demonstrates.

For many, quitting their job and going into business for themselves as a freelancer is an alluring prospect. There’s no denying that working as a freelancer offers many benefits over a traditional career – from more control over your schedule to more freedom to travel to the ability to be your own boss. However, as promising as freelancing is, there are still a few things you need to prepare for and keep in mind before you quit your job and start freelancing.

1) Finding a steady supply of work takes time

Freelancing jobs are certainly plentiful, especially as the freelancing economy continues to grow. Nevertheless, building a successful freelancing business that will pay the bills still takes time.
Easily landing lucrative jobs as a freelancer most often requires you to have a good deal of experience to show potential clients. Of course, when you’re first starting out, experience such as this may be in short supply.

That’s not to say that you won’t be able to find clients starting out, and you may even land some very high-paying jobs right out of the gate. Still, it’s important to be prepared for the fact that building a freelancing career takes a little time. This makes it important for you to have some savings that you are able to live off of while your freelancing career grows before you quit your job.

2) Being your own boss is a big adjustment

Not having to answer to anyone but yourself is one of the most alluring aspects of working as a freelancer. With that said, though, it’s also a big adjustment. Working as your own boss means that you will decide what hours you work and what hours you take off, that you will decide how much money you want to earn, and that you will decide when you take vacations and days off. Again, these are all highly positive characteristics of a freelancing career, but they do require plenty of self-discipline.

When you work as a freelancer, you are your only motivator. It’s up to you to set a schedule that is beneficial and stick to it, avoiding the temptation to take too much time off as well as the temptation to work too much and get burned out. You’ll also have to decide the rate you want to charge, which can be a difficult decision if you are used to someone else deciding how much you get paid.

All told, being your own boss can be a wonderful thing, but it does take some adjustment that you should be prepared for.

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3) Freelancing comes with its own stresses

To the uninitiated, working as a freelancer may seem like a stress-free career. You don’t have to deal with office politics or a demanding boss, and you can work from your living room, the beach, or wherever else you please. However, freelancing still comes with stresses all its own.

Dealing with clients can be just as stressful as dealing with coworkers or a boss. Likewise, the times when work is slow – which are almost inevitable in a freelancing career – can leave you quite stressed out, wondering if the work will return and the bills will be paid. The times when work is piling up can be stressful in their own right as well as you work feverishly to stay caught up.

Suffice it to say that while freelancing offers an escape from many of the stresses associated with a traditional career, it does come with its own stresses that you should expect going in.

4) Work ebbs and flows

As mentioned in the previous point, there will be times when you are snowed under with work and there will be times when you sit staring at your computer wishing for just a single project to come your way. Hopefully, these highs and lows of your freelancing workload will average out over time, but if you are used to getting a steady paycheck each week then the unpredictability of freelancing income can be quite a shock.

The best thing you can do is set aside money when work is plentiful so that you will have it available for the periods where work is hard to come by. Start a rainy day fund as soon as you begin your career and pay into it whenever you can in order to be prepared for the varying income of a freelancing career.

5) You need to be flexible

The income you bring in isn’t the only part of your freelancing career that will be changing and unpredictable – the type of work you are asked to do on a day to day and week to week basis may vary wildly as well.

If you are used to doing a single job hour after hour and day after day, it can be startling to transition into freelancing where every client has different projects, different requirements, and different expectations.

When starting a freelancing career, one of the most beneficial talents that you can have is flexibility. Learn to enjoy the changing nature of your work and learn to adapt with ease to the varying demands of different clients and projects. So long as you remain flexible, you’ll likely come to enjoy the ever-changing nature of the work that you do. At the very least, a freelancing career will almost certainly never be boring or mundane.

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