More and more often, savvy workers are saying goodbye to the standard 9-5 drudgery. They are replacing demanding bosses, stuffy suits, long commutes, and office politics with something much more rewarding.
In addition to this, they recognize that the job market is changing quickly. Jobs available today didn’t exist a decade ago. At the same time, other jobs are becoming redundant. One area that is booming isn’t in a specific industry or profession. Rather, it’s a way of approaching work.
As a freelancer, you gain more control over your working conditions and clients. Best of all, if you are talented enough and work on your soft skills, you could make significantly more money than you would as a full-time employee.
Before you get carried away with fantastical notions about working as a freelancer, a reality check is in order. There are responsibilities that you will take on, and risks as well. You may not be sure where your next client – and paycheck – is coming from. You have to be strategic with your money, and always work at selling yourself. In other words, what may have once been a side hustle is now a full-time effort.
Don’t worry, the effort you put into it can pay off handsomely. As an independent, you don’t have to take on the overhead of a corporation. You can work from the comfort of your own home or as a digital nomad. Moreover, while you’ll have to take on some projects simply to pay the bills, you’ll generally be able to seek out work that interests you far more than you would as an in-house worker.
In many cases, the internet itself will be your richest source of freelance work. The online freelance market is growing quickly and globally. In fact, growth in the United States market is at 78%. And freelance industry growth in other countries across the world is rising, too. You can get your freelance career set up in as little as 60 days.
How do you make the most of this growing market?
The first thing to consider is online marketplaces that connect freelancers with clients who need work done. The downside to some of these marketplaces is that that the bidding process is frustrating, and leads to low pay. The upside is that these marketplaces are a great place to cut your teeth and gain some experience.
Take these steps to get your bearings:
If you’d prefer to skip the step of looking for work through an online marketplace and source clients directly, you’ll need to establish an online presence. This means building a social media presence, and a professional portfolio website. Then you’ll need to promote your services. This is a good time to reach out to friends, family, and previous coworkers.
Once you’ve done this, you are on your way to building a freelancing business. You’ll need to work hard to establish yourself as an expert in your field to gain stability.
There really is no easier path to starting your own business than becoming a freelancer. Your biggest source of startup capital is your own expertise. Some people may claim that you can begin freelancing for free, but that is rarely the truth. In addition to your own talents, you’ll need one or more of the following:
In addition to this, as your business grows, you may find that you need to reach out to other freelancers and professionals to complete projects. By hiring their services, you effectively outsource what isn’t mission-critical. Then you can focus on what’s important: building your skills, gaining new clients, and completing more profitable projects. You might even hire some full or part-time freelancers to build out an agency.
This is the point at which it may feel like you’re more of an entrepreneur than a freelancer. If you’re ready to make that switch, keep reading. This article will explain how to set yourself up for success.
It is not enough to follow your passion and do what you love; you must also offer a service people need. Kelly James-Enger, the author of Six-Figure Freelancing, wrote, “If you are not offering a service, people are willing to spend money on, you are not going to be in business for long.”
You have to be patient. You may not earn a good living at first. Don’t get discouraged, just consider this a dose of reality. It can take months to get yourself established. In the meantime, you may need to freelance on the side. Another possibility is to find part-time employment. Yes, this may feel as if you are returning to the drudgery you just got out of, but that steady, predictable paycheck might be helpful.
As a freelancer, you’ve mastered the art of hustling in order to serve enough clients to pay the bills. Now it’s time to think a bit more strategically. As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely have more overhead to cover, even a few contractors or employees to pay. You need some income you can count on. Here are some things to try:
Finally, you might consider blogging as a means to build your audience, establish thought leadership, and to earn some advertising or affiliate income.
A smart entrepreneur automates what they can. They delegate, and they know when to hire outside help. If it isn’t mission-critical, it may be time to pass that task on to somebody else. Consider hiring a professional or purchasing a software package to take care of your finances, payroll, and other tasks. Eventually, you may also wish to hire out anything else that falls outside your niche area of expertise.
If you’re already working as a freelancer, you have many of the talents required to succeed as an entrepreneur. You’ve certainly got the work ethic, drive, and ambition. Now, it’s time to go to the next level and create a startup out of your freelance business. Follow the tips listed above, and before long you’ll be able to call yourself an entrepreneur.
This post was contributed by Erica Sunarjo, who got her start as a freelance writer and translator with a number of eCommerce and writing services, including TheWordPoint. Since then, she has branched out to copywriting for multichannel marketing campaigns in a variety of sectors. In her spare time, she works with animal rescue organizations and keeps up her musical talent as a keyboardist with a local band.
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