3 Things you should consider before freelancing

Freelancing has gained tremendous popularity over the past two decades. There are many pros going freelance these days, and many more who are considering making the jump. According to Burke and Cowling, managers perceive freelancers as a relatively high value added segment of the labour force which is particularly useful in dynamic and innovative business environments. In essence, freelancers are less of a cheap shadow precariat workforce and more a skilled specialised workforce that enable businesses to reduce: barriers to entry, risk and financial requirements while enhancing: business agility, flexibility and efficiency.

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Are Important for the Economy

It’s quite common to make more money as a freelancer than you would in a 9-5 job but you should not take this for granted. Before you go freelancing, you need to give it some thought. Freelancing might be an interesting option for many, but that doesn’t mean it will work for everybody.

  • Involvement in a temporary contract

Freelance employment often involves tasks that are required for a limited time. Jobs tended to be discrete and distinctive pieces of work. In a 2005 study of artists, Storey et al argue that ‘termination’ is an intrinsic property of the freelance employment relationship. The precise date of this work ending might be uncertain but, sooner or later, the freelancer would need to find another assignment or contract extension.

While this uncertainty might be fine with some, you may find it annoying particularly if you have a family to care. If you really think that you can not handle uncertainty, which is embodied in the freelancing work, you should think twice about freelancing.

In order to manage uncertainty, you must ask yourself if your expertise is diverse enough. You’ll need expertise in multiple areas because this will increase your chances of finding consistent work. Of course, it’s not realistic to assume that you’ll be an expert in 15 areas, but the wider you can spread yourself, the more reliable your workload will be.

Related: Why startups fail? Investigating the role of market problems

  • Mastering marketing and sales skills

As a freelancer, you would be responsible to find business opportunities for yourself. This means that you have to be able to “sell” your skills and knowledge to a future client. If you do not have marketing and sales skills, you run into problems of finding and getting a new project. Marketing skills are important for various types of entrepreneurship, but it is especially important if you want to go alone.

You might be a technical genius but if you don’t know how to show your best side to clients, you will hardly be buried in work. You need to know how to promote your skills, follow the market, and monitor your competition.

  • Holding self-discipline 

It is easier said than done. When you first start freelancing full time, it’s so tempting to fully dedicate and work late nights. But what those late nights really do is make you so tired that getting up in the morning is difficult. Then you may think that since you are working for yourself, it is OK to set your own hours making it okay to sleep in.

This is where the problem starts.

You are developing this routine while your clients do not use it. They mostly work from 9 to 5 so you tend to be less responsive and look unorganized to them. This can eventually make them unhappy with you.

On top, this evening or late night working routine is not good for your health. So you will suffer from it.

Stick to your office-going work hours and your freelancing business has a good chance of making it. After all, clients don’t burn the midnight oil – they keep to office hours and that’s also when they are most likely to contact you with the latest updates. Keep yourself available.

In sum, the secret to succeeding as a freelancer is to have a professional attitude to the work and to treat it as a business. You’re the CEO of your freelance company. You’re the one responsible for everything related to it.

About pourya

I am an entrepreneurship postdoctoral research fellow at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. My vision is to fill the gap between entrepreneurship research and practice with this website. Research and practice are two separate islands when it comes particularly to entrepreneurship. There are hundreds of papers/articles written every month but we hardly see their contribution to real life entrepreneurship.

2 comments on “3 Things you should consider before freelancing

  1. Vladimir Covic

    Good points, thank you. Also, I think you need to be prepared for clients that don’t pay on time (or at all). That’s one of the biggest risk when it comes to freelancing and is good to have a rainy day fund if that happens. The best way to mitigate that is to use a contract when freelancing http://www.vladimirwrites.com/2016/12/14/do-you-need-a-contract-for-freelance-writing/


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