I've been writing more and more lately about how people all over the world are freelancing to make a living. In recent years it's become more economical for companies to find as well as manage their freelancers. Roughly a third of the U.S. workforce engaged in some amount of freelance work last year. However, most of these people just freelanced on the side, driving for Uber or doing some design to supplement a regular income. Freelancing full time is a much more daunting prospect and requires significant thought before going ahead. Here are some ways to know if you're ready.
1. You're Self-Motivated
This is the hardest part of freelancing for many people. In a traditional job you are accountable to a boss. As a freelancer, you spend a lot of time accountable to yourself. You must have the drive and discipline to find new clients, stay on track with deadlines and collect on payments.
A lot of the successful freelancers I’ve seen were once bosses themselves, so they have the experience and knowledge to just apply it to their own work. In the competitive San Francisco Bay Area where I live, high levels of success often depend on just how much of a self-motivator you are.
2. You Value Dollars Over Benefits
Since employers don't have to pay freelancers benefits or payroll taxes, they generally command a higher hourly rate than full-time employees. That means you have to have a plan to get health insurance on your own and it means budgeting to save enough to pay taxes come April.
3. You Value Flexibility Over Security
Freelancers have more flexibility to work on the projects they want and go about their work in the manner they prefer. On the flipside, since their income relies on always finding new clients or getting more work from existing ones, they can go from making lots of money to very little in a short time. You have to have a high tolerance for instability at times. Freelancing certainly isn’t for everyone.
4. You Want To Make A Career Move
Maybe you've realized that you started down the wrong career track, but now it's hard to get started in the new career you want to pursue. I’ve known a lot of people who support themselves by freelancing while they explore a new career path. Freelancing can also be a good way to get your foot in the door, gaining experience and making connections with people in your desired industry.
5. You're A Jack-Of-All-Trades
Some freelancers succeed by nailing down a specific skill, but many are able to quickly learn and adapt to new projects. If you love variety and pick up new subjects quickly, you might have what it takes to freelance.
6. You Crave Opportunity Now
Corporate cultures tend to have an ingrained hierarchy and seniority can play a big role in advancement. There's no such hierarchy in the freelance world. If you can show you have the skills, you can get the job. Freelancers might find themselves taking the lead on projects they would never get to touch as an employee in a company.
7. You Create Your Own Community
One big concern that keeps people from freelancing is that they'll become isolated, spending all day at home on the computer and not being part of a work community. In order to live a balanced, happy life as a freelancer, you have to be able to build a community for yourself, whether that's through friends, family or connecting with other freelancers. Meet people you talk to online in person if you can. Stay in touch with friends through Skype, G-chat and Facebook. Attending networking events is also an effective way to build relationships, both personal and professional.
8. You Like Big Vacations (And Don't Mind Late Nights)
The beauty of being a freelancer is that it's much easier to get vacation time than you could as a traditional employee. Just stop taking new jobs for a while. You can even work remotely if you absolutely have to get something done while on vacation. One of the downsides? Unless you're supernaturally disciplined, the work may pile up on you at some point and, from time to time, you will end up having to work until the wee hours of the morning to hit deadlines.
9. You're Confident
A fulltime freelance career is not for the faint of heart. You have to commit, and be assured in your own ability to win new clients, deliver strong work and be able to pay the bills. It's hard to convince potential clients to believe in you if you don't believe in yourself.
10. You're Passionate
There are plenty of good reasons to freelance full time. However, ask just about anyone who's taken that path, and they'll give you the same answer. They want to do what they love and freelancing was the best way to follow that path. The best freelancers love their work and do it with passion.