Going freelance is one of the best decisions I ever made. I’ve taken back control of my life, creativity, and future. Now every day is something to look forward to, that works for me, and where the benefits of being freelance outweigh the doubts.
It took me a while to make the move into self-employment and I can understand if you’re uncertain. But whether it’s the freedom to work across the globe, or a community to help you throughout your journey, becoming your own boss will make you richer and happier.
So many jobs allow you to go freelance
Artist, programmer, accountant, whatever your profession and industry it’s likely you’ll be able to go freelance. All that’s needed to allow freelancing is market demand for the work you’re selling.
Some jobs will demand individual access to industry tools, but you can usually buy or subscribe to these. For those roles which require software that’s not publicly available (i.e. government), you’ll get the access you need once you’ve signed an NDA – it’s why contractors and consultants exists and, believe me, governments rely on them.
Before going freelance, make a list of the tools your employers are using and add those you know they should use. Establish which ones are essential and which ones aren’t. Then check to see if you can find free or cheaper alternatives.
You can start freelancing without experience
You know yourself that we all have to start somewhere. Before you took your first job in your chosen industry, you didn’t have any experience of working full time in the role – though internships come close, their very nature makes them a different animal. While more experience puts you in a better position to prove your skills, you can start freelancing without any experience – none at all.
“How can I start freelancing with no experience,” you say? It’s simple. A crucial part of being a good freelancer is being a good self-promoter. You need to win your work and your clients. You do this by making prospects believe your work is what they need.
A lot of this comes down to research – what are the key qualities needed in your chosen industry(ies)? What are the important channels for finding work? Bring these two things together with a portfolio that makes a strong sales pitch for your work. Once you do this you’ll see experience is less important than you fear.
You can charge more as a freelancer
It takes seconds to find out the average salary for your industry. All you need to do is search in Glassdoor – or one of the many other sites offering this service. It took me three seconds to find the average salary for an employed graphic designer:
I don’t need to look anywhere to tell you how much a self-employed graphic designer earns on average – the answer is that it’s more than an employed graphic designer.
I tell you how I know this for a fact. Freelancers have less overheads than the people companies employ full time. They don’t have to pay for the same amount of software, hardware, training, and more. This means you can charge significantly more than people doing the same job as you. Here’s how you can calculate your freelance hourly rate.
Choose your own clients and projects
“Freedom, I won’t let you down.” So sang the late George Michael at the dawn of the nineties and it’s a mantra for going self-employed. If working in a dank office and a job that sucks all the fun and creativity out of your profession has been making you sad, freelance won’t let you down.
You choose who you work for – don’t like companies who aren’t ethically pristine? Then screw them. You decide what projects you commit to – hate work that’s a prescribed patch-up job of a micro-manager? Then don’t answer their call.
The beauty of freelance is you can tell you companies: “I don’t belong to you. And you don’t belong to me.” You belong to yourself and you choose the projects and clients in-keeping with your brand. You decide the direction of your brand
Even if you’re a branding expert, working for someone else gives you very limited control over the direction a business takes. There are shareholders to consider, bosses to satisfy, and customers to please. This melts away when you go freelance – you’re the top dog and you decide the branding for your business.
You don’t have it do it all on your own
Being self-employed doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. There are tools to help with your accounting, and you can download software to aid your keyword research. Most importantly, though, you don’t have to reach reach out and cold contact to get work. Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and LinkedIn allow you to advertise your availability and let clients come to you.
These platforms are communities of varying shades. Upwork and Freelancer are geared more specifically towards freelancers, while LinkedIn is a more generic work domain. They each have their own pricing structures. For example, I checked what percentage Freelancer takes and found it charges 3% or $3 (whichever is higher) per fixed project. While Upwork takes a 75% fee on the transaction amount.
But there are real communities for freelancers that help members and people with a casual interest in freelancing. Speaking from my own experiences, it’s been a massive help having a community of freelancers to turn to. At every stage of your journey, there’s someone who’s been there, done that, then designed the logo to go on the t-shirt.
Work anywhere (with Wi-Fi) in the world
Working from home, in your dressing gown, and in the company of your pet cat (Alan) is one of the great benefits of going freelance. But why satisfy yourself with swapping the four walls of an office for the four in your house? My favourite benefit of going freelance is that walls no longer exist – you can work anywhere in the world (with Wi-Fi).
It’s up to you where you make your office, but some of the best digital nomad communities include the following places:
|Country||Destination||Reason To Freelance There|
|Thailand||Bangkok||Vibrant city with excellent healthcare|
|Indonesia||Bali||Tropical paradise with low living costs|
|Portugal||Porto||Great nomad community and fantastic food|
|UK||London||So well-connected and so much to do|
|Italy||Rome||More culture and history than almost any city|
These are just a few of the incredible places you can freelance. For even more inspiration, check out the video below:
Work when you want
Can’t stand starting at 9, or finishing at 5? Then begin when you like and finish when you want. That’s one of the many great benefits about freelancing, you decide your working hours and design your schedule.
Of course, it’s not necessarily that straightforward. You may take on a project with a specified end date and time. But let’s be clear here – if you don’t want to work on these types of projects, don’t take them on.
Freelancing spreads your risk
If you’ve spoken to any of your colleagues, friends, or family about going freelance I guarantee they all said the same thing – it’s risky. Do you know what, they’re not wrong but I’m going to tell you why they’re not right – working as the employee of one company is even riskier.
What if the company you work for goes bust? If it can happen to Lehman Brothers it can sure as hell happen to anyone else – even government backed or owned organisations aren’t too big to fail (what if the government collapses?)
I get this is scaremongering and unlikely, but the point stands – if you work as a freelancer you can spread your risk across various different companies. That’s not all, though. Working with a range of companies broadens your opportunities – it’s more organisations to network with and a larger number of contacts to pass on your details.
Freelancing has so many benefits and advantages that by 2027 more than half of the USA will be doing it. It’s not only a great way to make a living, it’s the future of work. So why don’t you try it for size and see how it feels? You could reduce your working hours at your current role and ease your way into freelancing, one day at a time.