Wanna know a cool fact? It’s estimated that freelancers will comprise roughly 40% of the US workforce by 2020.
“Nearly half? Are you kidding? That’s staggering!” I hear you cry. But are you really that surprised? With twenty- and thirty-somethings realising they can earn a hell of a lot more cash in a day while having the freedom to be their own boss, why would you bother going perm anymore? Right? RIGHT…?
Right. But here are some things to think about first.
Do You Have The Financial Stability?
Yeah, roll your eyes all you want. This is a big one. Sorry to sound like your dad, but you need to make sure you can afford to give freelancing a try. It’s not something you just decide to do on a whim. Can you live at home for a while, until your freelancing takes off? Not having monstrous outgoings initially, can take so much strain off of you when you’re starting out.
If this isn’t an option, due to location, or general dislike of having a curfew; then make sure you have some money saved up before you take the plunge. You don’t need enough to purchase a one-bed flat in London with no mortgage. In fact, who does that? Let me know because I’d like to be friends with them. All you need is just the right amount to act as a buffer if work doesn’t come flying into your inbox the moment you update your LinkedIn headline to something wildly unique and hilarious like: “Creative freelancer and an all-around great guy (you can ask my mom!).”
Are You Self-Disciplined Enough To Make A Routine?
As tempting as it sounds to spend the day tapping away at your laptop in bed, this is not the way to go if you want to succeed.
“But isn’t that what being freelance is all about…?’” you cry, flicking crumbs from your dressing gown as you open a window for the first time in a week, and realise four months have passed since you breathed actual outside air. There’s a difference between self-employment, being flexible, and just plain inefficient.
Set Yourself A Routine. And Stick To It.
Get up every day between 8-8:30 am. Sleeping in may sound lovely, but in order to start the working day as you mean to go on, that alarm must be set. Soz. Eat some breakfast and… wait for it. Get dressed. I know, wtf, right? You’re a freelancer; if you don’t wear the typical uniform of old pyjamas and a face mask, the world may just implode. No.
Getting showered and dressed each morning sets you up for the day, and puts you in “work mode.”
Make yourself a workspace. This is so important. Working from bed sounds like the dream, but soon the lines will blur between work and sleep; meaning you can’t ever fully switch off, and this is vital for a freelancer. Set up a desk, dining table, whatever, that is separate from your bedroom, and work there. You’ll get a hell of a lot more done. And when you’re sick to *death* of staring at your kitchen clock? Check out our top places to work as a freelancer in London. (Non-Londoners do not despair, we are working on some guides for you).
An alternative to tapping away from the dining table / a cafe is to invest in a co-working space membership. With locations all over the globe, these places are a freelancer’s haven, providing you with not only a hot desk, strong WiFi connection, and decent coffee; but also a building FULL of like-minded creatives ready to be networked with. We suggest WeWork, but if you have tried and tested some others, let us know in the comments.
Take breaks. This is key. You may be tempted to power through the day without stopping, in order to get more done; but the work you do towards the end of that stint will be of a poorer quality because your mind is crying out for a rest. This is the beauty of being self-employed: you can go meet a friend for a coffee at 11 am on a Tuesday or do a 3:30 pm yoga class. Take advantage of your newfound flexibility (perhaps in more ways than one) and fuel your brain with healthy breaks.
Network, Network, Network.
You need to get yourself out there. It’s time to put down Tinder and pick up LinkedIn. It’s gonna be your favourite new app (aside from HQ Trivia, because duh) and is crawling with new contacts to be made. Put aside 15 minutes every morning to go through and add some connections, either by searching for people who work at companies you’re interested in, or simply other freelancers and creatives. Send the odd message, asking to grab a coffee, and really use these people to learn about the market. Buy them a coffee, and pick their brains, about freelancing life, what they do, etc.
You probably won’t walk away from the initial meeting with a year’s worth of work in your inbox, but a few months down the line, they could be a really handy contact. There are also tonnes of networking events for people just like you to come together; search for them in your local area and get yourself down there with a stack of business cards.
Our parting words for this guide would be that, although it’s good to be picky on what work you do (isn’t that why we go freelance in the first place?) we would advise that when you’re starting out, try not to turn anything down. Of course, if the gig is writing a blog post on why Nazi England was a great time to be alive; we’re ok with you leaving that one. But while it’s important to do what you love, bills also need to be paid, so don’t be afraid of taking on a less-than-perfect project, just to tide you over until that dream job comes along.
Have you got any more tips for budding freelancers? Let us know in the comments!