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Freelancing is growing more popular than ever. 34% of all workers in the country are freelancers. It’s a jump that affords for more flexible working conditions, greater self-determination and a bigger slice of the pie. But it’s not a jump to be taken lightly. Are you ready to take the plunge? Are you ready to freelance?
First thing’s first, you have to have plenty of experience in the field that you’re working in. Employers can take chances on individuals who haven’t yet proven themselves. Clients can’t-do the same thing. You need to have proved yourself and have the work to show for it. Start by measuring and quantifying the accomplishments you’ve made in the work you’ve done so far. Make them part of a brand that you start spreading far and wide. A good online presence and, in particular, a blog can be the right way to show what you’re all about.
It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. That’s not entirely true for a freelancer, but having the right contacts through the industry can definitely prove the springboard you need to land those first few jobs. If you’re not already doing it, take every opportunity to network within your industry. Go to events. Get in touch with people you’ve worked with before. Start building those leads by going out and actually talking to people.
Everyone is new at some point. For newbies, there are plenty of freelancing career mistakes to be made that will cost you money and potential brand building possibilities. You need to understand the dangers that lurk out there. Those dangers include letting clients set the prices, taking part in the ‘race-to-the-bottom’ that some freelancers have difficulty getting out of. Perhaps the biggest mistake to make is failing to pick the clients that offer the best value. You might be hungry for work, but if you say ‘yes’ to toxic clients or clients who expect more value for less money, you’re clearly wasting your time.
The employer-employee relationship brings a lot of limits with it but it also brings structure. Some people are so used to that structure, they can’t rely on anything else. You have to build your own structure. You have to create a work environment that is fit for purpose. You have to set your own hours, prioritize your own work, and set your own goals. It takes a serious work ethic to freelance.
Even if you have all of the above, you are going to face failure sooner or later. You’re going to have a client who is unhappy or even angry with you. Feeling like a failure can take the wind out of your sails and many freelancers don’t bounce back. But you can, if you have the courage. Take your failures on the chin, take them as learning experiences, and move on. If you don’t have the resilience for that, you need to work on your confidence.
Freelancing isn’t for everyone. If you’re worried you don’t have what it takes as lined out above, then take some time to develop yourself. Build the experience, the contacts, the ethic, and the confidence. Only take the leap when you’re ready to not only grab success but to conquer failure.