Freelancing can be a great move to make. It can change your outlook on life, improve your financial situation and give you more freedom. It can also open up opportunities that you didn’t have access to previously, like traveling to new places or maybe a book deal.
But freelancing also can be a bad move, in some circumstances. Many people get desperate and throw themselves into this line of career without thinking and planning. The result? You’re worse off than you were when you started.
So when is the right time to move to freelancing? Is it a good decision for you? Will it be everything you hoped for? Read on.
Are You Emotionally Ready?
Cons: Freelancers take some hard emotional knocks. Rejection is common, and so are revision requests. You might hear, “This isn’t what I want,” or, “I don’t like what you’ve written,” often. You’ll need to be able to distinguish and separate your work from your self-worth. You may feel like clients boss you around, and sometimes clients can be rude or blunt.
Pros: Moving towards self-employment and a freelancing career can make you feel better about the work you do and your contribution to the world. You might feel more valued, as if your writing makes a difference. Your self-esteem could rise substantially, and your confidence as well. You could even feel relieved, now that you’re away from employment you found oppressive.
Tip: Learn that rejection and revision requests are no reflection on who you are as a person. Writing is very subjective, and some people will like what you do. Some won’t. That’s okay – you’re still a great individual with plenty to offer the world.
Are You Financially Ready?
Cons: If there’s one thing that freelancing doesn’t offer, it’s a stable income. You may not get paid every week, and you may ride an income roller-coaster of great highs and terrible lows. You’ll need to invest money into improving your business or skills and have cash available for expenses. A cushion of savings to fall back on when times are tough is crucial.
Pros: Preparing to weather highs and lows means you have good plans in place to ride out tough times. A cushion provides financial security, so you’ll feel more comfortable. You’ll be able to adjust your rates and schedule to find the optimal income flow that meets your needs. Learning to budget effectively also tends to improve your financial situation overall.
Tip: A proper plan for marketing your services helps you keep income flow steady. Market steadily, whether you have plenty of work or none at all, to make sure that you never have an empty plate. It’s better to have a waiting list than have no work at all.
Are You Business Ready?
Cons: Freelancing often equals freedom, but that doesn’t mean freedom from paperwork, business plans, proper accounting systems and more. Launch yourself into your career, and you’ll discover you’re not set up to accept payments, keep track of income and expenses and show banks you have a serious business. The result? Improper business planning can cost you an organizational mess and extra expenses down the line – sometimes to the tune of thousands.
Pros: Plenty of online sites and offline organizations provide help and advice, checklists of ‘must haves’ and resources to set you up with your business needs. By preparing up your business properly before starting, you’ll reduce wasted time, eliminate headaches and have smooth operations all the way to success.
Tip: Don’t try to do it all yourself or take on tasks that require skills you don’t have. Accounting is for accountants. Web design is for designers. Technical support is for techies. Focus on what you do best, and invest in the right people to make your business more successful.
Are you Stability Ready?
Cons: Many people turn to freelancing when the situation is desperate. They want a way out, an escape or a rescue from current circumstances. They forget to consider that switching career paths sometimes just changes four quarters for a dollar and doesn’t solve anything at all.
Pros: Rushing into anything often creates more problems than it’s worth. Yes, sometimes desperate situations call for desperate measures, but see if you can’t hold on to what you have for stability’s sake while setting up your business. Preparing for a launch over a period of six months often produces better results than a rushed, save-me decision to freelance.
Can you think of any other situations you need to be prepared for before you start freelancing? What troubles have you run into? What did you learn from your own startup? What other situations do you feel you need to be ready for before taking the plunge?
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