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December 1, 2018

5 Things to Know Before You Start Freelancing

Freelancing seems like a great idea at first. 
Unlike with a standard job, you'll be able to more or less choose your hours, your own clients and even how much you're going to charge for your time. More importantly, you'll get to pursue something that you enjoy. 
Now that the internet has turned freelancing into a more reasonably alternative to the traditional job option, countless people are giving up their office positions in favor of a more flexible role. However, before you join them, make sure you understand the following things. 

1.     Great Freelancing Takes Time

It is absolutely possible to earn a full income as a freelancer - enough to replace your standard job. However, you shouldn't expect to start making a lot of cash from day one. Freelancing takesa lot of effort - more than most people realize, to make sure that you're constantly bringing in new clients and sources of revenue.

Expect to have to spend some time in the trenches before you get to a point where you can charge whatever you like. Additionally, remember that you're likely to have some "down patches" along the way, so save some cash for those less-than-ideal times.

2.     Networking is Crucial

If you're not much of a people person, then you might have a hard time with freelancing. Ultimately, who you know is often a lot more important than what you know in the freelancing business. Even if you have excellent skills, there's a good chance that you won't start off with much credibility in your space. However, if you know someone on social media who already connects with your target audience, this person can vouch for you and possibly get you some work.

Before you give up your day job, make sure that you spend plenty of time building a network that can help you out in the future. That means that if you don't already have one, now's the time to get your LinkedIn profile sorted. 

3.     Give Yourself a Break

Before you actually start freelancing, it's difficult to understand how much work the average freelancer undertakes each day. If you're just looking for a quick way to make money, then this probably isn't the lifestyle for you. Freelancing can be very difficult for a number of reasons - not least because it's packed full of opportunities for stress.

Additionally, it's hard being your own boss. It's important to remember that just like any employee, you're allowed to take vacations when you need to and time off. You also need to know when to stop working each day, know how much money you can spend, and know what you need to save to protect yourself in the future. 

4.     Money Management is Crucial

As a freelancer, it's crucial to understand how you're going to manage your money each month. When you're first getting started, you may even need to consider taking out a loan to pay for the equipment that you'll be using every day. For instance, a digital freelancer will require a great computer that they can rely on to help them do their work each day. Make sure that you compare your loan options here and ensure that you're getting the lowest interest rate.

On a more regular basis, the key to success with money management is keeping track of your spending. There are plenty of apps available that can track your finance, and above all else, it's crucial to keep your professional and personal spending separate. Remember that you will need to claim for certain expenses as a freelancer that must come out of your business account. 

5.     Take It Slow

Finally, if you're not too fond of your day job, it may be tempting to give it up and switch straight to freelancing. Unfortunately, that can be a bad decision. As mentioned above, it often takes time to start making some serious cash from your freelance work, so it might be a good idea to balance a day job and your freelance gig for a while. This will give you an insight into whether you can really handle being self-employed, and it will also show you how much work you need to do to make an income.
When you do decide to quit your day job, make sure that you do it carefully. The last thing you want to do is burn any bridges that you might need to turn back to in the years to come. 
The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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