I think the reason for many people who decide to go freelance is to escape the rat-race of the 9-5 job, feeling more appreciated in what they do and having the flexibility to work around their family, especially for women who find it hard to go back into a part-time position or even finding one which fits around school hours.
There are many downsides but also amazing rewards of being a freelancer, for example, it can be very lonely working freelance from home but then you can join co-working hubs, which are plenty around nowadays and which give you the opportunity to mingle with other freelancers, network and even collaborate with some.
The rewards of being a freelancer outweigh the downsides for me and I like the ability to choose who I work with, when I work and when I can take time off to enjoy being with my family, friends or taking holidays. The other very rewarding and positive side of being a freelancer is that I feel I make a real difference to a small business owner with the knowledge and support I can bring to the business rather than being one of the thousands of employees in a big corporation who don’t feel appreciated at work. I have learned so much within the last two years, and I’m always updating my skills which I never did in my previous jobs as there was either not the time or budget in the company to do so.
So if you decide to go freelance and want to explore your options, I’d advise you to consider a few tips and tricks to stay on track and don’t get disheartened by the ups and downs of working freelance.
1) Your skills and competition
Think about your skills and which specific skills you have that can set you apart from your competition, i.e. technical, language, coaching, etc. This can make you stand out from the crowd and make a real difference when getting potential clients on board. You just have to match your skill set and experience to the right type of client.
2) Website and Social Media Platforms
When you start your own business you will need to use at least one of these platforms to market your business, products or services. Whether you splash out to have a fancy website or just build one yourself, set-up a Facebook Business Page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter or Instagram account, you’ll need to explain to people how you can help them and solve their problems and connect with your target market.
3) Learn new skills and keep up with current technologies and trends
When you finally quit your job and go freelance you’ll need to keep learning about social media, apps, programs and technologies to keep up-to-date with current trends. This will help you to market yourself as a specialist in your field and increases your potential market and client base. There are a lot of free learning resources, e.g. YouTube, online platforms, local trade chambers and funded courses, or you can do online courses with LinkedIn, Google, local colleges and the Open University. I love learning and think it’s a positive experience to learn new skills, programs and apps.
4) Networking and word-by-mouth recommendations are crucial to your business
The first thing when setting up your business is to tell your family, friends, ex-colleagues, and everyone around you about your business, products or services. It’s important that people know what you offer and how you can help them. They can then tell others about your business and soon the word will spread. You’ll find that referrals often come not necessarily from the people you know or met but from people who they know and trust and knowing you are a big part of this.
You’ll also need to get out to market yourself and meet like-minded business owners. The best option is to find local networking events and groups and these can be found on Eventbrite. It’s quite daunting to attend networking events at first but you do get used to talking to other business owners and if you’re passionate about your business and what you do it’ll come naturally to talk about it and connect with people. You’ll need to build relationships with those and therefore choose the event where your target market is present and connect with them on social media. Most often people like to know and trust you before they’ll buy from you so building strong relationships with your potential clients is key.
5) Don’t get disheartened by the ups and downs of freelancing
The life and work of a freelancer are not for the faint-hearted and can have many ups and downs, e.g. no guaranteed income, loneliness, constant marketing of your business, resources, etc. If you think about it as a boat journey where you sometimes have to adjust the sails to safely navigate through the storm then you’ll find it can actually be fun and so rewarding! There is a lot of help out there if you research, i.e. co-working spaces to go to, free resources and courses, business advice via your local chamber of trade and commerce, business loans, etc. If you make your business plan and research about local resources you’re on the right track.
6) Have a backup plan and money in the bank
You will need to have a backup plan if things don’t turn out as quickly as expected, i.e. part-time work, savings, business loan to be able to finance your first year as a freelancer. It’s not always guaranteed that you’ll start working straight away so to have a ‘Plan B’ is crucial if you want to survive your first year in business.
7) Enjoy the ride and rewards of being a freelancer
Last but not least, enjoy the freedom that comes with working freelance, whether this is having more time for your family or hobbies, being your own boss and making your own decisions, travelling more, no Monday blues, commute to work, less stress, etc. It’s utterly rewarding to being your own boss and even though it’s a big learning curve you’ll feel that the initial hard work will pay off and the rewards are much greater than you thought.
Wishing you lots of success on your journey – enjoy the ride! Oh, and do let me know if you become the next Richard Branson so I can visit you on Necker Island. 🏝️😊