For those looking from the outside, becoming a freelancer often appears tempting. Being your own boss, choosing the work you do and avoiding the same daily routine has its perks.
Freelance opportunities are available in a huge number of industries, and the internet has made it easier than ever to get your name out there. However, no amount of previous work experience will prepare you for freelancing if you don’t have the right minerals.
10 traits of a great freelancer
- Time Management
- Skin like a rhinoceros
- Little need for sleep
- A headful of ideas
- Marketing savvy
- Time alone
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1. Time Management
To go freelance, your organisational skills have to be fabulous. The buck will rest entirely on you, so there will be no one to delegate to when you realise a two-hour job is going to take five. On top of the work you’ve agreed to, you’ll have to make time to source new work, chase monies owed and keep the tax man informed. Oh, and you may want a life on top of this.
Freelancers need to keep any natural shyness for nonworking hours and be prepared to meet and/or speak with total strangers on a whim. You’ll need to go further than producing great work, delivered on time – some clients will see you as an extension of their office staff, and forming professional friendships gains trust.
3. Skin like a rhinoceros
Be prepared for rejection slips or a total lack of response to work you’ve pitched. It won’t matter how genius your proposed work may be – the quicker you can get the next freelance proposal, the more successful you’ll be in the long run. Freelancers need to accept rejection as nothing more than part of the daily grind.
4. Little need for sleep
Sleep may need to go on the back-burner for awhile, especially when you’re getting started. Some jobs will overrun, or a great last-minute opportunity may present itself. With no job security, you’ll need to take on and complete jobs, regardless of the unsociable hours.
5. A headful of ideas
Brilliantly original ideas will need to erupt from you like water from a fountain. Regardless of your chosen field, you’ll be competing with some brilliant freelancers and your proposals will need to stand out from the crowd. Always have a plan B, should your first idea hit snags en route to completion. And preferably a plan C too.
Be prepared to shift your life-interests around work. Until well-known and with regular work coming in, freelancers cannot afford to turn work down. Whenever the call comes, you’ll need to be ready to meet it, even if this means missing your weekly yoga class.
7. Marketing savvy
A successful freelancer needs to market themselves. Unless you have a string of trusted contacts when you start out, you’ll be starting off as a complete unknown. You can’t afford to simply put your name out there and wait for others to come to you. Attend events, mingle with other freelancers and potential employers, and approach companies directly for work in areas you can demonstrate your expertise in.
One often-heard complaint from freelancers is that they have either too much or too little to do. Months of 60-hour working weeks may be followed by long periods without a single scrap of freelance work. You’ll need to keep positive, be patient, and keep working on the next breakthrough.
9. Time alone
Freelancing can be a lonely job. In many industries, the work will have to be completed by you, and you alone. If the thought of staying in the house for days on end and conversing only with the postman makes you quiver, freelancing simply may not be for you.
Even high-level non-freelance jobs do not compare to the level of multitasking required by a freelancer. You’ll be the boss of your enterprise, the marketing department, customer service rep and accountant, to name but four. Changing roles several times on a daily basis and having to be expert in each can leave some freelancers not knowing who they are anymore.
Getting started as a freelancer
So, you’re confident you have what it takes to go freelance. What to do next? In many ways, going freelance needs the same preparation you would put into starting any new business. Approach it in this way and you’ll put yourself in the best position to succeed.
Your freelance work
The appeal of working from home can quickly become stale when you don’t get to leave the house for days at a time. Sort out an official work space and purchase any essentials before you begin. Everything should be on permanent standby for that first job.
Create a weekly schedule from the off. Even if the first few weeks contain nothing but lists of people to contact and networking events, it all counts towards your freelance work.
Given the competitive nature of most industries, you’ll need to find a niche so you stand out from the crowd. Research others in your field, decide how you’re going to pitch yourself and create a brand to get noticed. Work out your rates and be flexible. Clients may price jobs in different ways, from hourly rates to total work delivered.
Let the taxman know in advance of your plans. Work out how long you can survive without a job coming in – a small business loan may be useful to get your venture off the ground. Ensure everything freelance-related is accounted for, from stationery and travel costs, right down to the coffee you drink whilst working.