The Pros and Cons of Freelancing
Freelancing is an attractive proposition for many creative professionals, offering freedom and flexibility in delivering a variety of projects. On the one hand, freelancers have to take responsibility for managing their workload, finding clients, and drafting contracts. On the other, the freelance economy provides a path to becoming your own boss and a unique opportunity to dictate the terms and conditions that suit you best.
- Flexible Working Hours: Freelancing affords you the ability to create and maintain a flexible work schedule. You can choose to work when you want and take breaks as needed.
- Wide Range of Projects: Working on freelance projects offers the potential to work on a vast array of interesting projects with a variety of clients. This can be attractive to freelancers looking to solidify their portfolio.
- Work From Anywhere: Freelancers have the freedom to work from any location. From home, a local coffee shop, a beach, or even abroad, freelancers have plenty of options when considering where to work.
- Inconsistent Income: Freelancers often run the risk of having inconsistent income as they jump from project to project. They must also be proactive in finding and securing new work if they do not want to experience periods of low activity.
- Self-Employment Taxes: Freelancers must be aware that self-employment taxes will be withheld from their income. If not prepared in advance, these taxes could be a burden when filing for the year.
- Lesser Benefits: Without the backing of an organization, freelancers have to forgo certain benefits that come with a traditional job, such as employer matched contributions to retirement savings accounts and healthcare.
Key Skills and Tools for Successful Freelancing
Whether you are new to freelancing or have been working in this arena for years, there are some key skills and tools that every freelancer should have in their arsenal. From knowing how to communicate effectively, to staying organized, and understanding the technical tools needed to succeed, the following list highlights what you need to succeed as a freelancer.
- Strong Communication: Good communication skills are essential in networking, client relations, and searching for jobs. Being able to communicate well with clients, networking contacts, and potential employers is an invaluable skill.
- Marketing & Networking: Freelancers need to understand how to properly market and network their services in order to be more successful. Knowing how to craft email pitches, cold-call potential clients, and use social media outlets to promote your services are invaluable skills.
- Organizational Skills: Freelancers need to stay on top of their projects, clients, deadlines, and taxes. It is important to be organized and create a system that works for you to stay ahead on all your projects.
- Time Management: Freelancers need to prioritize, plan ahead, and stay focused on their tasks. Having an understanding of how much time is needed for each task and how to stay focused on completing each task on time is essential for success.
- Technical Tools: To effectively run a successful freelance business, having a basic understanding of certain technical tools and applications is important. From project management apps to payment and invoicing tools, selecting and using the right tools is paramount for success.
How to Navigate the Freelance Market
Entering the freelance market for the first time can feel daunting. However, with an understanding of the ins and outs of freelancing, it’s possible to be successful. Here are some tips to consider when launching your freelance career.
- Build Your Network: Freelancing is most successful when there is a pool of clients that you can rely on for steady work. Start by building relationships with the people you already know, and then reach out to potential new clients.
- Choose the Right Clients: It is important to set up the right kind of expectations with clients. Have a conversation up front about the project scope, timeline, payment, and what you both want to get out of the project.
- Set Your Rates: Determine how much you’re going to charge for your services. Consider the type of project you’re taking on and how much work is required in order to establish a fair rate.
- Create Clear Contracts: Formalizing a freelance agreement with each client is one of the most important steps in the process. Having a clearly outlined contract protects both parties in the event of any disputes.