The idea of freelancing is exciting. Everybody wants to be their own boss. The notion that you can work from anywhere, work in your pajamas is pretty captivating. Think about it, if someone promised a chance to travel the world and earn at the same time I know you’d be the first to jump in. They call it the laptop life and it’s really tempting. Being a digital Nomad is possible but before you begin on this journey. It’s important you realize what it really means to be a freelancer.
Here are some things you should know if you’re considering to become a freelancer or to work online remotely.
The home environment is full of distractions. Working online from home next to a bed or in bed can prove to be the hardest thing for many people. Sleep tends to win most of the time. I know I have struggled with this. So in this case, discipline is a virtue that you have to possess.
Other forms of distractions include noisy children especially if you live in a busy neighborhood and the kids are on holiday. Let’s not even get started with that neighbor of yours who decide they want to show off their new music system that they got just the other day. With such a case, it’s advisable to find a space to rent out or find other freelancers and cost share an office space.
Family and friends can pull you down as a freelancer. We live in a country where most people don’t have the courtesy to call or let you know in advance that they’re visiting you. No sooner do you get started with your work then you hear a knock from your auntie who took you in when you were in college. It would be very disrespectful not to welcome them unless you want the whole village to know how you have now changed since you left her house after all she did to you.
I remember times when I was forced to lock my house with a padlock after my kids left for school. This was just to keep off those unannounced guests. I then learnt slowly to explain to them that they cannot just show up. I work too. Working from home is work too. Be clear about your work and let your family and friends know that your freelancing job is not a hobby.
If you don’t do plan how you’re going to do your freelancing work then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Your freelancing career should be able to give you a decent living. It should also pay your bills and more. So finding clients is paramount. It can prove to be a daunting job but it’s the easiest once you get the hang of it. You can find clients from free marketplaces like Upwork, iwriter, freelancer.com and many more. The only problem with these marketplaces is the high volume of freelancers and the cheap rates most of these freelancers charge.
Referrals are also a nice way of finding clients. So it’s important to be good at what you do, hone your skills and always add value to your current clients.
The other way of finding clients is cold pitching. This is approaching your prospective clients either via email or booking appointments. Make sure you have a good portfolio, good communications skills and find the one thing that sets you apart from other freelancers. Cold Pitching is very rewarding because it promises to give you well-paying clients and long term clients too.
Don’t be a Jack/Jill of all trades
Before you start on your freelancing career, find out what you’re good at. This may take some time but it’s advisable to find one thing and be good at it. Become an expert in your field and clients will find you. One thing I’ve realized is hiring freelancers can be difficult and most of the time frustrating. It’s hard to find the right person to work with because most freelancers don’t deliver what they have promised. Therefore, if a client finds one good freelancer who is an expert in any given field, they will stick with them no matter the rates. Rates don’t compare to the peace of mind a client will have hiring an expert and the convenience that comes with knowing that quality work is what you’re going to get.
So narrow down, become the best and you will not burn out trying to be do different things at the same time.
You still have a boss
There is a common misconception when it comes to working online or working from home. Working from home is doesn’t mean that you are your own boss. Remember you sourced work from a client and that makes that client your boss. You’re answerable to your client and you have to please that client if you are looking to make money. The only difference is you choose who to make your boss. You choose the hours you want to work and you choose how many bosses you’re working for.
Coping with work
This is not an issue when you’re first getting started. Most probably you have random clients here and there. The work is not as consistent and so when you find work you’re able to complete the work on time.
The problem arises when you have honed your skills and you are an expert now. Clients begin to come in and because you’re excited that your freelancing career is picking up you get tempted to take all the work.
This can prove to be disastrous. You’ll get burned out and frustrate some of your clients. Don’t take work that you cannot finish. Always communicate with your client clearly. It’s okay to let your client know that you’re busy but are willing to take up their work in a day or two. If you are good, they will wait and if they don’t, they will come back with more work when you’re ready for them.
Clients from Hell
Like everything in life, there’s always a positive and negative aspect of it. So you’ll get great clients but there will be one nightmare of a client coming your way. These are clients who will not be clear with their communication. Clients who will be rude, clients who will set you up for failure with their demands and clients who are looking for robots and not human beings to work for them. I always recommend you fire them. This is why you’re freelancing and not employed. You have all the right to fire a client who is straining you.
Don’t quit your job yet
I recommend that you test the waters first before making the plunge to freelancing. Freelancing is not for the faint hearted. Freelancing is like a business, the only difference is you are selling your skills and not products. There are good and bad months in freelancing. You might get consistent work for three months and stay another month or two without work.
So start doing small gigs while you are still working on your day job. See how that works out for you. If you feel that you’re doing better freelancing than in employment then that is the right time to quit your job.
If you’re not in employment then you can jump right in and try freelancing.
Working online has you working with people you don’t know. People you’ve not met and people you’ll never meet. The environment is already set for scammers. These are clients who will have you work for them and then disappear without paying. There are also those clients who will have you work hurriedly making you think they have a deadline to beat only for them to take too long to pay you.
Be very weary and always draw up contracts that are very clear on method of payments and terms of payments including the dates.
Free market places most have escrows but scammers find their way there too. So the fundamental thing is to sign a contract.
Now that you know the ups and downs of freelancing, go on and start making money online. The online space is full of potential and only you can make the decision to tap it. Making six figures online is possible and achievable. Plan yourself, have a routine, continue to sharpen your skills and always deliver what you have promised.
Good luck and happy freelancing.