If you’ve been successfully side-hustling and feel ready to make the leap to full-time freelancer, there are some things that you must know first. Freelancing is not exactly an easy way to make a living, as your ability to earn and grow depends solely on you. However, it can be ideal in a lot of situations. Based on my experience, here are 5 things that you must know before going freelance:
Time management is tough
Working from home sounds great, doesn’t? You can sleep in, stay in your pj’s till noon, exercise, run errands, and get to your assignments when it’s convenient for you. Not!
Ok, you can stay in your pj’s, and you might find it easier to fit exercise into your daily routine, but the bottom line is, working from home is still work.
As a self-employed freelancer, you have to become skilled at time management. You have deadlines to meet, regardless of whether or not there’s a boss breathing down your neck or a client standing right in front of you. It can take some time to find your groove. Consider setting up a workspace, getting up at the same time every day, and scheduling out blocks of time to work.
There are no days off
When you’re freelancing and self-employed, there are no set days off. The weekend rolls around and it feels like any other day if you’re catching up on assignments. In fact, you may feel bad when everyone else is headed out for fun and you’re stuck home finishing up work.
One of the biggest perks of freelancing is that you can be location independent and work from anywhere with an internet connection, but on the flip side, that means you’ll likely be spending some vacation time working. Sometimes it’s hard to turn off the business side of your brain, causing you to be distracted when you should be relaxing with family and friends. There are nights where you’re in bed tossing around business ideas and running through your to-do list when you would much rather be sleeping.
It takes time
Unless you already have a solid client list before you leap into full time freelancing, it’s going to take time, effort, and patience to build up your business. You have to keep plugging away, day after day. Don’t ever get too comfortable, because you never know when things will change. A key client could cut back on orders, or a great job could come to an end. You always have to stay on the lookout for new opportunities and seek out new connections.
Lean times lead to worry
Like in any industry, there will be times where work slows down. This usually happens during the summer, when many people are busy vacationing. Lean times will have you worrying, and wondering if work will dry up completely.
I’ve experienced many times where work slows to a trickle. If I go a few days without new assignments, I start getting nervous. Of course, things always pick up again, but it’s hard to convince yourself of that when your bank account starts stagnating. Be prepared to lose some sleep during those dry patches, and be sure you have a healthy emergency fund to fall back on.
Taxes are a headache under the simplest conditions, but as a self-employed individual, you get a little something extra to deal with. Oh joy! The rule of thumb is that you should be setting aside roughly 30% of your earnings for taxes, and you may even want or need to pay taxes quarterly.
Keep all of your receipts for business related expenses, and organize your invoices. You are not only a freelancer when you strike out on your own, you also have to a bookkeeper. Working with a tax professional might be your best bet.
Freelancing can be a great way to earn an income and work from home, but it isn’t always easy. As long as you take these things into account before diving in, you should have an easier time adjusting to working at home and being self-employed.