What you should know before going freelance

5 Things You Need to Know Before Going Freelance

If you’ve been successfully side-hustling and feel ready to make the leap to going self-employed full-time freelancer, there are some things that you must know first. Freelancing is not 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, for many reasons.

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 it? You can sleep in, stay in your pj’s until noon, exercise, run errands, and get to your assignments when it’s convenient for you.

Yeah, right!

Ok, yes 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 after going self-employed. Consider setting up a workspace, getting up at the same time every day, and scheduling out blocks of time to work.

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There are no days off

When you’re freelancing and self-employed, there really 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.

I’ve been there many, many times!

One of the biggest perks of freelancing is that you can be location independent and work from anywhere with an internet connection. On the flip side, that means you’ll likely be spending some of your 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 new business ideas and running through your to-do list when you would much rather be sleeping.

It takes time to grow

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 and grow your business. You have to keep plugging away, day after day. Going freelance doesn’t mean you’ll have overnight success.

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 when work slows down. This usually happens during the summer, when people are busy vacationing. Lean times will have you worrying, and wondering if work will dry up completely. It can get scary!

I’ve experienced many times since going freelance where my incoming work slows to a trickle. If I go a few days without new assignments coming in, I start getting nervous. Luckily, things always pick up again, but it’s hard to convince yourself of that when your bank account starts going down.

Be prepared to lose some sleep during the inevitable dry patches, because you probably will. Having a healthy emergency fund to fall back on is really helpful, so work on growing your savings.


Taxes after going freelance

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, but you also have to a bookkeeper.  Yep, you’ll be wearing many hats. Working with a tax professional might be your best bet.

Going freelance can be a great way to earn an income and work from home, but the reality is that 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 going self-employed.

Read this before going freelance

7 thoughts on “5 Things You Need to Know Before Going Freelance”

  1. As a solopreneur, what you wrote is accurate! I took two weeks off at the end of 2014 because in part I worked so many hours throughout the year! Thanks especially for mentioning time management because I feel that some people believe that the self-employed would have more free time. The reality is that that our time is more flexible but we still have to work a lot of hours to make the income we want.

  2. I’ve really started to understand the ‘no days off’ thing. You’re right about weekends feeling like any other day. Physically going to a workplace five days a week helps to compartmentalize life. When you are doing everything from home, the lines between work time and home time fade. That’s absolutely where the time management comes in. Great points!

  3. Shannon @ Financially Blonde

    I think the hardest think for me becoming a solopreneur was the acceptance of no days off. Technically you could take days off, but you know that when you do, no money is made, so it’s easy to end up working 7 days a week with no rest. I am thankful that I took time off at the end of the year because now I feel energized for doing work this year.

  4. Fig @ Figuring Money Out

    These are all so dead on from the times I’ve done freelance work! It’s so hard for me to manage my time and it feels like I never quit working… because I don’t! Taxes are also a headache. Right now I’m avoiding the idea that they are coming up.

  5. Taxes are definitely something I dread! I am not a very organized person so going through everything is always a pain. I am trying harder to be better at that though.

  6. Everything you said is dead on. I always dread every February because that’s when I start all my tax preparation. I mean I have an accountant and it’s still a major pain in the ass to deal with taxes! I’m keep trying to come up with a better system than the one I have and still haven’t! lol!

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