When it comes to our work lives, all of us want to have more control over what we do, the hours we work, where we work those hours, and what the results of our jobs are. Flexibility is becoming more and more of a factor when we look for jobs: we ask if we can work from home, if the hours are flexible, if we can fit our other commitments around those jobs. More and more people are taking time out from work to care for children or for elderly relatives, and so it’s never been more important that our jobs manage to fit around those incredibly important aspects of our lives. If your job just isn’t cutting it any more and you’re considering making a career change and going freelance, here are some tips on how you can do that…
Check Out The Market
First of all, check out the market. When you launch a new product, you do market research to make sure that there is an audience and a market out there for that product. In these circumstances, imagine yourself as the product. Are your skills in high demand? Can you get paid for them in a way that will support your lifestyle? If the answer is no, is there any way that you can expand your repertoire so that you can get more work? Reach out to contacts that you have to ask them if they require any of your services so that you can explore the possible market more fully – remember that not all jobs are advertised online.
Focus On Your Skills
If you’d like to go freelance but you’re not entirely sure how to go about it, it’s time to think hard about yourself and what exactly you’re good at. If you absolutely hate sitting behind a desk all day and you’re happiest out in the open, you could consider training to become a gardener. If you like working quickly and accurately and you’re a fan of working on a computer, you could become a transcriptionist – from medical transcription to police transcription, there are a lot of areas in which you could work. If you’re creative and artistic, you could consider setting up an Etsy shop to sell your art, and creating illustrations to go alongside news articles. Book illustration is another great way to go.
Create A Brand
It’s hugely important to think of yourself as a brand if you’re freelancing. No matter what your skill is, whether you’re a freelance journalist or a web designer or a coder, your brand is your livelihood and it is what will make you money. The way that you appear to be is something that will control whether or not people want to work with you, so it’s important to make sure that your personal brand is a healthy mix of being friendly and being incredibly professional. If your instagram feed is more about drinking mai tais and lounging in the sun and complaining about having to go to work, it’s time to change that immediately. You’re not only selling your skills – you’re also selling yourself.
Manage Your Time
When you’re in an office, your boss tends to be looking over your shoulder most of the time to make sure that you’re producing enough work and that you’re on track to meet your targets and hit your goals. When you’re a freelancer, you are your own boss. This can feel extremely scary: you are responsible for the money you make, and you are responsible for the way that you spend your time. You need to quit procrastinating immediately. If you find that hard, set alarms on your phone so you can work hard for half an hour and then take a break, before setting another alarm to work hard again. The phrase ‘time is money’ is a cliche, but when you’re a freelancer it’s true.
Figure Out Your Finances
When you’re working a ‘normal’ day job, you’re used to getting paid a certain amount on a certain day of the month. When you’re freelance, this can be more precarious. You need to chase your invoices – people will do what they can to not pay you and it’s your job to fight against that. Build time into your day to track down payments, and ensure that you set aside enough money to pay your taxes at the end of the year. You need to be as scrupulous as possible about money and make sure you get paid for your work – experience and contacts are great but they won’t pay your rent.
Being a freelancer is a tough life, but it’s absolutely worth it for the freedom and for the fun.