Many of you reading this will be um-ing and ah-ing about exchanging the security of your office job for a life in the big, bad world of freelancing. Soumo asks freelancers about how they’ve managed the risks of swapping the suit for the slippers…
Risk 1: I’ll be invisible
As a freelancer competing in a crowded market, the worst-case scenario is that employers forget who you are. You need the confidence to sell yourself and avoid being overlooked.
High self-esteem is important. You have to have the confidence in yourself to know you’ll get enough work, and not panic if you have a week here and there without anything.
But before you take the step, make things as easy as possible for yourself. Minimize the risk by having a few projects lined up prior to leaving your full-time job.
You can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t put yourself out there, remain undeterred and have a handle on the admin side of things then you won’t get very far.
If you’re a freelancer who’s not on Twitter, get on Twitter immediately, as it will open up avenues for more work. Seize opportunities and develop your own ways to get work: You cannot rely on anything or anyone project, you need to be everywhere! Keep in touch with people and make sure they know you’re always there. Be public about your success.
Risk 2: I’ll be skint and sick
It will come as no surprise that freelancers consider the biggest risk to be financial. It’s very hard to take days off because you’re always eyeing the next job or contact.
Consequently, damaging your physical and psychological health is another risk. If you’re sitting at a desk eight hours a day, you will gain weight. Seriously. And no, coffee doesn’t count. And, no, energy drinks especially do not count.
In a similar vein, you may be tempted to dispense with your desk, but don’t work in bed. If you are working from home, work at a proper table with lots of light and a comfy –but not too comfy – chair.
Avoid falling behind with your invoices. Invoicing is mind-numbingly dull but it is infinitely less stressful if you set time aside each month and do it all at once. It also means your clients will know roughly when to expect your invoices. I find it really useful to agree fees for everything far in advance.
Risk 3: I might not get on with clients
Leave your ego at the door, because your career as a freelancer depends on you being pleasant. To everyone. All the time. Be friendly. Not only does it make working with somewhere nicer, but you’ll be called back for things.
Don’t risk harassing your clients. It’ll seem like no-one works as fast as you do. In reality, it’s just that everyone is as busy as you are. Keep yourself busy with other stuff, learn to love your calendar, and chase people every seven days.
Risk 4: I’ll regret it
Freelancing is a bit like what I think having kids must be like. If you stop and think about it, you’ll never feel ready. The beauty of going freelance is the freedom to choose the companies you know you’ll enjoy working for, rather than taking anything just because it has been offered.
And, however risky it is, freelancing remains incredibly fun. When this job goes right, there’s nothing better. Love your triumphs and accept your failures. Because there’ll always be another one of each just around the corner.
It’s crucial to remember the highs. A bus driver in Australia once told me that the key to happiness is finding something you love to do and finding someone who’ll pay you to do it.