If you have never come across the term “freelancer”, it’s only natural to be tempted to ask: “who or what is a freelancer?”
A freelancer is anyone who does work remotely on behalf of a company or an individual regardless of their location. The borders do not even matter. Welcome to internet 101!
Freelancing is a great way of making some additional income. Actually, with the many opportunities available online, one can even take on freelancing as their full-time business activity. If you already have a job and you have some extra hours to spare, which is highly unlikely, it is “doable”.
But, before you quit you current job just because it predominantly sucks and you ironically think of becoming a freelancer, coming up are some few points you should take into consideration ahead of that big bold step.
Freelancing is awkward
“Yes you are a freelancer, we heard you but what does that even mean?”
Questions like these are bound to pop up. You might come across people who would like to understand what it is that you do. What do you mean by freelancing? Do you ever get paid? Whom are you exactly working for? It’s all out of curiosity but you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.
Like I tell the very curious ones, I am mainly into second hand sex toys and I equally supply most vegans with meat biscuits, you see where this is going… and that is just enough to put a grin on their faces. Do the voices in your head have faces?
Your parents will never understand what you do. I told mine that I create content and that’s what they know me for. A content creator. Yes, when I began my journey I wrote content as a ghostwriter, now just imagine how I held the pen?
Freelancing is freedom but it is still work
If you thought working from the comfort of your home was your best bargain and it came with no efforts attached, then you have to think this through once again.
Working as a freelancer requires you to meet all kinds of targets. Starting out with your deadlines, you also have to constantly improve on your profile, learn new skills (ultimately, those little things make you more competitive, don’t thank me yet), you need to read a lot, be open to challenges just as in a real life.
Freelancing is not easy work
The earlier you get acquainted with these facts, the better. Seen those ads that say you can make a 1000 dollars or more just by doing some crappy copy paste job? The good news is that they don’t work! They never will.
Freelancing is challenging
Say, you are working for someone on the other side of the globe; you would have to learn how to adapt to their time zone. That means sometimes being awake when everyone else in your household is asleep or vice versa.
Unless you are a super focused person, working from home can also be challenging especially when no one believes in that newly found “gig” you got.
Ignore the haters and make sure you print a huge “do not disturb” signpost to turn away all those who would eventually decide to distract you.
Spoiler: This won’t work if you have younger kids. These little creatures do not understand that part of adulting!
Freelancing is discipline
“The right attitude gets you everywhere” – Unknown
That’s a nice quote that I must admit I made up for the purpose of this very article. Let me ask you, you think you can do work without going back and forth on social media if your work does not require you to be on social media?
That’s how I lost my very first client! Hashtag it happened to me too! Let’s take a scenario where you are happily working for a strict client. You miss a deadline and chances are they would just kiss you goodbye. That’s it!
The reality is there are thousands of freelancers who want your spot. You’d better strap-up when you are in that spot. You might not be in for too long if you’re not producing wonders.
Most people I have worked with over the years always value time. Even if you were to come up with the most “amazing” excuse like “your grandma died”… sorry, that’s an old joke and that just won’t cut it.
Freelancing is communication and honesty
In the light of the above, instead of working out on your next lame excuse, learn how to communicate effectively with your client. Let them be aware of the status of the job, the challenges you are facing if any.
Do not overstep boundaries, there is a reason why they are outsourcing work to you so they don’t end up doing it themselves. Do you get that?
For starters, I will suggest you get on Skype since it is a cool, effective and a popular tool. You could then use the medium for faster updates on anything “work-related”. It is also a good practice to let your client know when you would be absent, giving prior notice like a civilized person.
Pro tip: Do these simple things and you will be building trust right away!
*On that note, let’s us jump to point number 7, we are almost there, getting to the end*
Freelancing is not your safest option
If you were to talk about job security, freelancing jobs offer no such thing. Most of the work is contract-based. Moreover, if a client does not want to work with you anymore or in case you have reached the end of your contract, they can decide to renew or cancel.
The only thing you might be able to control is the quality of work you put out. And even that….
Companies fire and hire. Exceptional providers are not spared. The least a satisfied client would do is to recommend your services to some other recruiter or a project manager.
There are dry seasons as well and I’ll explain. Unlike most youngsters I know, a large percentage of clients take their vacation time seriously. The question is what will you be doing when there is no more work coming in during that time of the year?
Same thing applies if company is hit with a shortage of jobs, they can let you go whether you are brilliant or not. So working for just one client is never enough.
I would say get yourself two or three clients to be on the safer side. However, do not, do not accept projects from them concurrently. It compromises the quality of your delivery.
A freelancer is someone working for free
What? No way! Yes way! Many people, usually beginners fall to tons of schemes – online scams. So you work, work, and no one pays you. That was free, right? Nah!
Many unscrupulous people are on the lookout for their next prey. They pose as reputable project managers and offer you loads of work with no contract agreement attached and you can rest assured that you won’t earn a pesewa at the end of it all.
Unpaid work is a common canker when you fail to do some preliminary things. I once lost some huge cash like, chale it was painful….oh shit I am about to cry again, lol yeah it was that painful but I learned my lessons.
Things like background checks by simply launching a Google search on the company or the individual hiring. Look out for the red flags. Whenever someone shows no professional footprints online not even an active LinkedIn profile or a social media account or anything “tangible”? I’ll say it as it is, these are red flags!
Your best option is to require a 50 percent deposit at the start of work and the other 50 upon completion. Remember any offer that looks too good to be true is a SCAM.
Marketplaces like oDesk now UPwork save you from all these headaches. On these platforms, all payments and hiring are carried out in the most secured manner.
In a subsequent post, is where I talk about how I started freelancing, how about we touch on marketplaces where you can sign up and start your own freelancing career. Don’t just nod, say yes to it and I will write something for you! Here’s How I started freelancing.
Freelancing and money matters
Until you read the fine prints of most NDAs, wait let’s roll back the tape. Until you read the fine prints of most Non Disclosure Agreements you wouldn’t realize that some company pay you 30-45-60 days after submission of invoice.
It is a pain right down where it hurts but you just don’t know that yet. Having to wait that long to receive your monies for work already done is exhausting. Let’s not forget the challenges with transactions that are likely to occur.
It’s either the accountant at the company you’re offering freelance services forgot to schedule your payment or they referenced the wrong beneficiary account.
At other times, it could be that the bank is taking a while to clear your transaction because they don’t understand how come you are receiving these monies from a faraway land.
However, most of these matters are easily resolved by paying a visit to your account manager and explaining the nature of your work. Again, you see communication and the “awkwardness” of calling yourself a freelancer instead of “unemployed”!
Also, kindly note that the banks are just doing their jobs in their fight against money laundering or whatever makes them sleep at night so don’t be too hard on them even when they display stone-age tendencies.
Freelancing and money and money again
I feel like we need to stretch on this a little more. On the issue of money again, before you quit your current job and decide to become a freelancer, I would like to remind you that you should get ready to go broke if you do not have any plan B in place.
I read a great tip the other day, and it suggested that if you have enough money to last you at least a year on earth, better multiply that amount by 3 or 5 before going freelancing full time.
It’s the same rule that applies to finding out whether you can afford some specific things in life. Money does runs out real quick in the freelancing world.
And I agree to that considering the various upgrades that come with the lifestyle of a freelancer:
It won’t be long before you need a new phone, a new laptop, your chargers might fail, you will need some power banks. The time will come when you will have to fix your power generator, run out of fuel, need a printer, buy some cartridges, pay your utility bills, reward yourself, buy data and all you can think of just to be that Rockstar Freelancer.
Well, despite the fact that these are all work related needs, they cost you money! Want a piece of advice? Invest in these because you need them!
Of course, you can absolutely cut down your expenses or make more money but how many people are skilled at that?
Freelancing and skills
Up your game. Learn new stuff. They say nothing beats experience but the young ones will beat you hands down these days if you keep believing that nonsense.
There’s no real reasons to be worried but don’t get complacent. If you have some experience, build on it since there’s always a freelancer on the corner who has more than enough to offer.
So always read about new stuff daily. Invest in your personal development, big deal. Learn how to pay more attention to the the little details, did you see that repetition? Practice coding. Learn baking. Do the dishes. Take a long walk. Drink some wine, smoke nature if it’s something you’re into. Discover new things. Make babies, maybe.
The internet, life is full of things to discover. Don’t be stagnant, keep rocking!
Whew! In this lengthy article, you and I have covered a bit of a checklist to give you a sense of what freelancing could be if you were to ever go down that route.
Every freelancer’s story is different, of course. However, I am sure other freelancers could relate to these things listed above and might probably add more.
In spite of all these, freelancing works great for me. I just wish that at the time I got started, someone took the time to spell these things out for me.
Lori Greiner says “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” I say “Who does that when they know what they are doing?” You could do it faster, if you knew better, maybe, maybe not.
So that’s about it from my experience. Freelancing is a learning curve and I don’t ever regret taking that step. No, I am not a billionaire yet. I do not ride in any fancy cars nor did I write this post sitting on one of those beautiful beaches in Saint Tropez.
But if there’s one thing I dare not complain about, it is the opportunity to decide to work or take time off to write whenever I can, even if that means no money in the bag.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, let me know in the comments what are some of the challenges you wish you knew before you started in your current field of work! Kindly share your thoughts, they mean a lot to me!