The new economy has led more and more people to do freelance work instead of full-time office jobs and they’re not turning back. Many feel that avoiding the hassle of commuting, dealing with obnoxious co-workers and having a flexible schedule are worth the risk. According to MBO Partners, “Independent work has gone mainstream across all generations, geographies and sectors. It is increasingly seen as an avenue—and sometimes a requirement—for career growth.”
While working freelance and being your own boss is liberating and a great options for moms, who can work from home and still take care of young children, it also has a few negatives. So, if you are among the estimated 17 million Americans who call themselves freelancers and you’re searching for new ways to improve your income without (gasp) having to return to the corporate world, here are 13 ways to master the art of freelance work.
Take advantage of freelance work resources and find other freelancers in your area for co-working, commiserating, and moral support. The Freelancers Union has lots of great information as well as offering group insurance and retirement plans.
2. Sell Yourself
Consider yourself a small business. To be successful at working freelance, you must brand yourself. This includes business cards and a website, if appropriate, as well as joining relevant industry organizations and keeping your Linkedin profile current.
3. Time Management
Freelancing gives you flexibility but that can sometimes be more challenging than having preset hours. Set a work schedule and manage your time or the day will slip away from you and so will the work.
4. Don’t Overcommit
It’s tempting to say yes to every freelance work opportunity but you’ll make yourself crazy and hurt your reputation if you bite off more than you can chew.
5. Social Media
Promote yourself on social media. Use whatever platforms make the most sense for you and your business: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
6. Make it written
Signed contracts help give you recourse for non-payment and other legal issues and make the parameters of your work clear to all parties. The Freelancer’s Union has a handy Contract Creator tool so you can create the right contract for each job.
7. Financial Cushion
Keep savings for a rainy day. Freelance work is unpredictable so it’s essential to keep a financial cushion to cover your dry spells. And there will be dry spells.
8. Know Your Worth
Know what your work is worth. Don’t shortchange yourself by charging too little for your services. At the same time be aware of market rates so you don’t price yourself out of gigs either.
9. Network, Network, Network
Networking and word of mouth are the best ways to get your name out there and find new clients. Attend industry events in your area and always be ready with a business card and a subtle sales pitch no matter where you’re going.
10. Daily Routine
Working from home and setting your own hours is convenient, but the line between work and home can get blurred. To keep your workday from extending to 24/7, create a daily routine and stick to it.
Keep careful track of your finances and receipts for budgeting and also for tax purposes. Invest in bookkeeping software, like Quickbooks. Or, if you’re not a numbers person, a bookkeeper.
You choose to freelance because it gives you flexibility. Use that flexibility to attend soccer games with your kids or treat yourself to a pedicure. There is more to life than work but, you know that, you freelance after all.
13. Strategize & Prioritize Jobs
Strategy and prioritization are key for successful freelance work. Sometimes a steady low paying job trumps a one-time high paying job. Think long-term and think about which jobs may lead to future opportunities.