Do You Have What it Takes to Freelance?

Signs You Can Handle Going Full-Time Freelance
by Shanna Fujii
December 01, 2016
Shanna Fujii is a writer at online brand-building resource Bloguettes, freelancing extraordinare, and general smartie-pants.
People tend to associate freelancing with “pajamas,” “bedhead,” and “laptop.” In some cases, these are correct descriptions of the freelancer’s life. But in most cases? There is way more work stuffed between these cognitive associations.
Being your own boss and determining your own success is incredibly attractive, however, it takes a certain type of person to be a freelancer. Before you give your two weeks’ notice and burn all your business suits, read these six things to determine if you have what it takes to freelance.

You’re Okay Being Your Own Boss

Finally. No more bosses to take credit for your work or tell you exactly what to do and when to do it. While being your own boss is definitely one of the highlights of being a freelancer, you have to realize that if you don’t take initiative, your freelance gig won’t go anywhere. Even more so, as a freelancer, not only are you your own boss, you are your own marketer, social media guru, and sales rep. You set the goals, you promote yourself, and you are the sole reason for getting anywhere other than square one.

Freelancer tip: Know what you want and have an actual plan on how to get there. Saying you’d like to make $80k in two years is great, but if you don’t have any steps on how to actually achieve that goal, it’s just wishful thinking.

You Have Stamina and Responsibility

Cars need gasoline to get their engine going. In the world of freelance, you are both the car and the gasoline. To make sure you have a steady flow of clients, you need to be ready to dive in and commit to your work. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. Does it feel a little weird to say, “Hey, hire me!” Maybe. But if you offer exceptional services, you should be proud enough to tell people about yourself—because you know what you have to offer.

Freelancer tip: Set a working schedule. Yes, you can do laundry in between projects perusal, but make sure you’re not doing laundry, playing with your dog, attempting yoga, and laughing hysterically with Ellen at the same time. Having a solid schedule will get you in the habit of making your new freelancing gig feel (and function) like a job.

Extra freelancer tip: In addition to setting a schedule, set a goal. Tell yourself you’re going to pitch yourself to seven people by 5pm, then follow through.

You Know Your Worth

How do I price myself? Although it’s strange to put a number on your talent, you have to be bold and realistic enough to determine how much you and your services are worth. While we think every one of you reading this is worth a trillion dollars, of course, setting your prices too high will defer paying customers. Conversely, setting your services too low will hurt you and undervalue your work. Be honest with yourself, find the middle ground, and decide on a price you are proud of.

Freelancer tip: Do your research! You can’t make an educated price estimate without schooling yourself on how other people with the same freelance services and similar experience price themselves. See the range of options that are available and price yourself accordingly. Consider your background, your previous collaborations, and the time it takes you to complete your service.
You can’t make an educated price estimate without schooling yourself on how other people with the same freelance services and similar experience price themselves.

You’re Good With Numbers

Ah, math. We thought we got rid of you in high school, but alas, you’re back to haunt us. In the world of freelancing, you need to be good at numbers. Creating a budget and figuring out taxes are just some of the number-related issues you’ll need to solve. Yes, you can hire an accountant, but in order to know what your accountant is doing (and that you’re not getting ripped off), you need to know accounting basics. 

Freelancer tip: Check out online career resources. There are so many digital classes where you can learn everything from “how to be an Excel whiz” to “how to become an amazing public speaker.” Do a little digging and find an online class that will most benefit you.  

You Have a Yearn To Learn

As we said in the beginning of this post, you are your own boss, marketer, graphic designer, and coffee maker. You are everything, which means that if you don’t know something, you have to learn it. You don’t have the luxury of swiveling around in your office chair to ask a fellow coworker how to do a certain task. As a freelancer, you have to love learning. Don’t know how to insert a picture into a shape in Photoshop? Find a tutorial on it. Changed your business name twice and need to forward your domain? Find an article on how to do that. As you travel along in your freelance journey, there are things that are bound to make you feel clueless. If you don’t have the determination to find the answer for yourself, you and your freelance life will be stuck in limbo.
Freelancer tip: Other than the online sources we mentioned in the previous tip, seek out real relationships. Find a mentor that can teach you a few tricks up their sleeve. By creating a personal connection with someone you admire, you gain know-how and have someone to physically converse with when freelancing gets a little lonely.

You Can Say No

When you’re first starting out in the field of freelance, it will be tempting to accept every single project that comes your way. And while you may take on everything thrown at you in the beginning, there will come a time when you have to say “No.” Whether it’s a client asking for an impossible project due at an impossible date or your ex-boss’s husband’s second cousin asking for a favor you just don’t want to do, there is no obligation for you to accept any job. You chose the life of a freelancer so you can call the shots. If you don’t want to do something, don’t.

Final freelancer tip: The freelance world is one of risk, hard work, and empowerment. The unknown is always a scary thing to dive into, but you won’t know what the future holds until you take a chance on it. Realize you have the ability to make your future happen—your future doesn’t happen to you.

Sound like freelancing might be a good choice for you? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments!