Freelancing has grown into one of the most popular career options for many over the last couple years, especially among creative industries like software and web development, UI/UX and web design, graphic artistry, copywriting, video production, and music production just to name a few. With a major portion of the world’s workforce becoming remote workers over the “year of the pandemic,” it became clear to many that remote work is a far more productive, enjoyable way to get stuff done. Freelancing is now touted as the new norm – with the possibility of being full time or a side gig, and a flexible income that is quite often limitless.
In this article, we’ll cover some background on freelancing, explore the benefits of being a freelancer, and give a few tips on how you can get started as a freelancer.
What Does it Mean to be a Freelancer?
Broadly speaking, being a freelancer means you are self-employed and work independently. More specifically, freelancers can be contractors, temporary workers, or consultants who offer services to clients. Unlike traditional employees, freelancers typically have their own businesses and often contract out their skills to many different clients at once. Some of the most common and popular kinds of freelancers today include web developers, programmers, graphic artists, writers (both copywriters and journalists), videographers, musicians and entertainers.
As a Freelancer:
- You work on a 1099 independent contractor basis, so you’re responsible for setting aside your taxes and reporting income.
- You are responsible for finding your own clients or projects by networking, marketing, or selling your services.
- You will need to determine the best option for personal benefits such as health insurance, dental insurance, eye insurance, and set up your own retirement investments using a financial advisor.
- You will need to register your business entity, depending on where you live, as a sole proprietor. This will allow you to open a bank account under a DBA (doing business as) using a name other than yours.
As a freelancer, you’ll have the ability to work with a number of clients, usually on a monthly retainer basis. You’ll have the opportunity to choose the work you do, create the schedule of your choice, and set your rate based on the skill level and value you’re offering to your clients. Despite some of the responsibilities you take on as a freelancer, the flexibility and benefits of working for yourself usually greatly outweigh them.
Who Can Be a Successful Full-Time Freelancer?
The short answer is anyone can freelance full time because being a successful full-time freelancer isn’t all about the work you do. In fact, being able to manage your personal finances and marketing yourself can be even more important than what types of projects you take on. The best freelancers are those who know how to market themselves and sell their services to potential clients in need of them, and possess skills in time management so they can effectively balance scheduling between several different contracts at once.
Choosing a Freelancing Niche
The first step in becoming a successful full-time freelancer is to choose the right niche. This means finding an industry or market where you have some level of expertise and can offer valuable services. It’s important to remember that as a freelancer, your skills are your product, so you’ll want to find a field where you’re confident selling yourself and your services.
Some of the most popular freelance niches today include:
- Web Development & Programming
- Graphic Design
- Creative Writing
- Editing & Proofreading
- Video Production
- Music Production
- Marketing & Social Media Management
What are the Top Benefits of Making Freelancing Your Full-Time Career?
There are many benefits of being a full-time freelancer that make it the perfect choice for those who want to escape their day job and work on their own terms. Some of these include:
You Are Your Own Boss
Being a freelancer means being your own boss, which can be a great perk for those who love being in control and want to set their own work schedule. You’re also able to choose the clients you work with, projects you take on, and rates you charge. This level of freedom is something many people find appealing about freelancing as a full-time career.
The Ability to Work from Anywhere
Perhaps one of the biggest perks of being a full-time freelancer is being able to choose your workplace, whether you enjoy working at home or prefer co-working spaces. You can take advantage of living in more than just one place by giving yourself opportunities such as traveling whenever you please while still having steady income coming in each month.
No Set Hours or Dress Code
In most cases, freelancers are able to determine their own hours and don’t have to adhere to a dress code like they would at a traditional job. This gives you more flexibility when it comes to how you spend your time outside of work and what types of clothes you feel comfortable wearing each day.
Setting Your Own Schedule
As a freelancer, being able to make your own schedule is one of the most important benefits you’ll enjoy. This means being able to choose when and where you work as well as taking time off whenever needed without having to ask for approval from anyone else.
Setting Your Own Rates
Another perk of being a freelancer is that you’re in charge of how much you earn. This means you can set your rates based on the value and skill level you offer to clients, which often results in a higher income than what traditional employees make. Plus, as a self-employed individual, freelancers are able to take advantage of certain tax benefits not available to those who work for someone else. This includes being able to write off certain business expenses related to your work as well as being able to save money by contributing part of your income into a retirement account.
Only Do Work Your Passionate About
When freelancing full-time, you have the opportunity to focus on only the kind of work you feel most passionate about. This means no more being stuck in a job you hate or doing tasks that don’t fulfill you creatively. As a freelancer, you’ll be able to work on projects that inspire and excite you, which can lead to a more enjoyable and gratifying career.
How Can I Make the Transition from Traditional Employment to Freelancing?
Transitioning from a traditional career into freelancing can feel like a daunting and scary task, but it’s one that you won’t regret. To get started with the transition process, you should make sure you have a few key items in place before you leave your traditional job.
Have a Plan
When you transition from being an employee to being your own boss, it’s important that you have a game plan for how you plan to run your personal brand. This means deciding what your niche is going to be, what kind of clients and projects you want to work with, as well as having some sort of idea about rates, deadlines, etc., so there are no surprises along the way. It’s recommended that you create a plan on paper that outlines your ideas. Make sure you include a marketing and sales strategy because you will be responsible for finding your own work as a freelancer.
Determine How Much You Need to Make Each Month
It can be helpful to determine what you believe is a reasonable monthly income goal. Determine how much money you need each month in order to live comfortably, then figure out exactly what types of projects and clients are required for that amount. Do a little research to determine what the average hourly rate should be for your industry and skill level. With this information, you can determine how many hours of billable time you’ll need to achieve before officially transitioning from your traditional job and into freelancing.
Start Freelancing as a Side Hustle
You may not have the flexibility to dive right into full-time freelancing straight away, especially if you don’t have a full book of clients yet. Start by freelancing on the side, booking client projects around your current work schedule until you’ve built up enough business to fully transition. Once you’ve got enough to be comfortable, you can feel comfortable about leaving your day job and going at it full time and scaling.
Build Your Portfolio and Get Testimonials
In order to attract new clients, you’ll need to have an impressive portfolio as well as some stellar testimonials from past clients. Start by reaching out to your network of family and friends for referrals and then begin actively seeking out new clients through online job postings, social media, or even personal connections. Having a solid portfolio and positive client testimonials will allow you to gain new business much faster going forward.
Freelancing can be a very rewarding career path if done correctly. It offers individuals the opportunity to take control of their work life balance, set their own rates, focus on only the type of work they’re passionate about, and more. If you’re considering a transition from a traditional career to one where you’re able to take full control of when you work, where you work, and what you work on, then freelancing is definitely for you.
Bookmark the Writer’s Hive Media website to learn more about freelancing as a career option because we’ll be diving into all the information you need to find success as a professional freelancer in the coming articles.
Mel Beasley has a bachelor’s in creative writing and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He brings 9+ years of digital marketing and writing experience to the table by writing for publications such as Lumina News and Encore Magazine. He spent 2 years as a college-level writing tutor, and is a certified writing tutor through the CRLA, which is a prestigious cert recognized by the Association for the Coaching & Tutoring Profession. He is a professional SEO blogger with experience writing for brands such as Boardworks Education and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal. One of his latest website and marketing projects has been building the website for the now New York Times Bestselling author, Nina de Gramont.