Pursuing work as a freelancer is a great resource that can generate extra income on the side. Many individuals who pursue this work have an entrepreneur-type mindset. Some pursue based on their creative passions, while some are looking into this with a full-time perspective.
Although intimidating, starting a career in freelancing may require leaving a full-time job, but for some, maintaining their current position while working as a freelancer on the side is quite achievable.
On the other hand, there are some benefits if you make the choice to remove yourself from the full-time job you go to every day and switch to a career in freelancing. You have the ability to work from home on projects you have set out for yourself.
If this is the route you wish to take, make sure you properly research and prepare for the process.
What Is A Freelancer?
A freelancer is an individual who is self-employed, offering services to clients that fill the need of a project or job – usually short-term work with a set of terms and conditions that the freelancer is required to follow.
Money is earned on a per-job basis and they have the ability to modify their price rates for any particular job.
There are several options to choose from when starting a career in freelancing:
First, independent contractors perform supplemental work, as well as employment contracts. Both of these typically adhere to terms set by the client, then negotiated and agreed upon with the employer.
The second option is a diversified worker, who works as both the traditional employee and as a freelancer. Their time is split between two “part-time” positions technically, which is gaining more recent popularity as there is a high demand for part-time work as a freelancer.
Next are the temporary workers. The majority of workers are somewhat familiar with this classification as a temporary worker will fill a need where it required – such as a longer contract but will rely on only that particular job as a source of income.
Lastly, there are freelance business owners. This means that a successful freelancer will take on freelancer employees in order to meet the high demand of themselves as a freelancer.
Types of Freelance Work
When people think of freelancing, they automatically associate this type of work with ‘stay-at-home’ positions. Regardless of some critics, there are completely legitimate job opportunities in this line of work.
Some of the more common freelance jobs involve some type of writing and editing. You can become a freelancer for publishing companies and provide content that will be used in texts such as textbooks, magazines, and websites.
There is a high pay rate for translators that have the ability to translate texts in business documents, websites, and academic papers.
There is also an abundance of tutoring positions available and with an online profile, you can pick the subject in which you want to tutor.
For the more technologically savvy individual, a job in freelancing could mean graphic design and marketing. These positions typically require some type of college education, but with that, you become more marketable and valuable to these clients given your basic and/or advanced skill set and knowledge.
You can also seek jobs in software and web development, which is particularly appealing for those who enjoy working from home. Although these positions are typically well compensated, they require you to have all the equipment necessary to complete the task(s).
The Appeal of Freelancing
1. Flexible Schedule
First, flexible schedules mean you have the ability to work where you want when you want, and for whom you want. You are entering into a more open organization, allowing you to set aside time for other life tasks you need to complete.
2. Work At Home
For some, the appeal of working fewer hours is beneficial as you are the person who gets to dictate the amount of work you want to do. If you are searching for a workplace that fills a need in regard to a more relaxed, comfortable environment, then freelancing is a great opportunity to start a work-at-home career.
3. Tax Deductibles (lots of it!)
Although your expenses may increase compared to the full-time employee benefits of working for a company, you have the ability to deduct all of your added expenses when filing taxes – such as business cards, advertising, and promotion related materials, automotive expenses like gas and parking, travel, as well as technological equipment associated to the type of work you do.
Even more so, there are additional deductions on top of those expenses, including business loan interest, rent/mortgage interest, and homeowner’s insurance.
In order for you to have the ability to deduct these expenses, you will need to maintain a very detailed and organized record keeping of all the ins and outs tied to your freelancing position.
4. The Freedom To Choose Your Clients and Workload
With freelancing, you have the freedom to choose your clients. This is an incredibly unique benefit you otherwise would not have access to in a normalized job structure.
You control the clients you work with, which also means that you control your workload. You can make as much, or as little, time commitments as you desire, which provides flexibility to maintain your daily routines and adjust for potential distractions that may occur.
That said, if you plan ahead, you can plan accordingly. Knowing what your schedule will look like in regard to workload as a freelancer will allow you to frontload or backload your schedule with personal or work tasks, leaving room for the other once you have completed the work that needs to be done.
5. Exposure (Worldwide)
Exposure is huge in the freelancing world.
There are numerous opportunities to work with a broad range of clients – which enhances your networking abilities, increases the work experience that you can utilize in either your freelance career or outside of that field, as well as developing a dynamic set of professional skills that is also very appealing to the majority of clients.
If you find that your skill set has a lot of range, you can market that on whichever Freelance platform you choose, which gives your clients the ability to view your experience and/or education, increasing your likability and your chances of getting hired.
Minor Downfalls of Being A Freelancer
It is possible for you to face some long-term challenges as you progress in your career as a freelancer.
1. No Job Security
First, there is no job security provided, which painfully means that there is no guarantee of an income source. The freedom and flexibility of working for yourself come at a price – you are susceptible to inconsistencies in work demand, as well as variations in the economy.
2. Clients May Dictate Your Schedule
As a freelancer, you are hired on by a client who has a budget and deadlines to meet – which also leaves you at the mercy of their schedule – therefore, to ensure you have some sort of revenue coming in, don’t rely on a single client, set up contracts with multiple if available.
3. Not All Hours Are Billable
Adding to this, not all of your hours are billable. The majority of contracts made with clients have terms that include milestones, which means that regardless of the time it takes you to complete one of those milestones, you will be compensated for completion and not total time worked.
4. Finding Clients Can Be Time-Consuming
Also, take into consideration that finding clients, submitting proposals, and discussing contracts will consume some of your valuable time.
5. No Employment Benefits
Because you are not working for a small company or large corporation, you do not receive employment benefits. You are responsible for your own coverage and costs of health insurance, in addition to no paid leave, vacation, or sick days.
Getting Started As A Freelancer
Starting as a freelancer may feel intimidating, but with the right brand, portfolio, and professional network, you will set yourself up for a successful career.
First, you will want to consider how you will market your service, gain presence in the freelance world, and shape your trademark.
Next, build an online portfolio, master the art of social media marketing, develop your key content, and discover how to identify opportunities to network.
Your portfolio should contain a list of all your most favorable and admirable achievements thus far, which should lure clients to your profile. A solid portfolio will enhance your online presence in the freelancing world.
Testimonials are your go-to advertisement for future clients so the more you build your work history, the more obliged clients will be to take you on as a freelance employee.
Decide Your Rates
This part of the job can trigger a lot of unease in many individuals as deciding your rates is a trial and error process. Setting an hourly rate versus charging by project or milestone is not an all-inclusive method when it comes to finding work as a freelancer.
Pay rates vary considerably based on the terms and guidelines set by the client, especially when considering the time and effort the job requires as a whole. Setting yourself up for success in this aspect is all about familiarizing yourself with how pricing structures work and test driving a variety of methodologies to determine which one best suits you and your goal as a freelancer.
All in all, it is recommended to do your research before providing a quote to a potential client – look at their pay history, work history, job demand, the details for projects, etc.
Building An Online Presence
Social media is a great starting point to build an online presence as a freelancer. Enhancing your profile means marketing your skills to the right people.
Inserting yourself into an online community is one way to reach out to potential clients – as well as finding resources that provide information regarding job leads, industry news, and discussion forums to reference back to if needed.
Blog posts on publishing platforms are another great way to build your brand in the marketing world. Create content that you personally own will not only appeal to clients, either directly or by referral, but will aid in optimizing your searchable assets that allow clients to view your achievements and overall purpose.
Building credibility in your field of interest will draw in new clients as they can identify your expertise in a given field.
There are a few Portfolio and Website Building resources that we recommend looking into to help you build your online presence and increase marketability.
Squarespace is most beneficial to those who are looking to create a professional website. It provides high-quality design features for marketing, templates to reference, and allows personal customization that fits your goals as a viable portfolio.
WordPress is the ideal platform for those who are looking to build a website that fits your unique marketing standards. WordPress offers development tools and resources for blogging, businesses, portfolios, online stores, etc. Your reachability is enhanced with their optimized and receptive themes.
Wix gives you the chance to independently utilize your creative side through designing, developing, and managing your web presence platform with the tools and resources they provide.
Finding Freelance Jobs
Before you consider a career in freelancing, know that half the work you do will be put into finding jobs. To the best of your ability, set yourself up with multiple clients to ensure you have work coming in, as well as building your portfolio which will help further market yourself in the freelancing world.
There are resources available for those who seek them. Creating a profile on an online marketplace will increase your chances of finding work substantially, compared to personal and professional referrals. Technology is your friend in every aspect of being a freelancer.
There are numerous online sites that will guide you in the right direction if a career in freelancing is what you want to pursue.
FelxJobs offers support and access to discovering work-from-home remote positions that can be both part and full-time, freelance positions, as well as access to on-site positions that have flexible schedules. With a proven track record, FlexJobs provides a quick and easy tool to find employment, as well as resources to get you there as well.
This freelance platform is one of the more reputable and marketable sites to search for freelance work. Like most sites, UpWork offers the ability to build a custom-made portfolio where you can market your skills, education, and work experience.
Clients have the ability to reach out to you, just as much as you have the ability to reach out to them. Finding work through UpWork is quick and painless, which is beneficial to those who are beginners, but also appeals to the more advanced freelancers as they are afforded the opportunity to build relationships with clients to lengthen their contract and take on more of a full-time role.
The main objective of this business is providing resources for jobs that start at $5 – hence the name Fiverr. Although this may not initially sound appealing to someone who is looking at a career in freelancing, there is room for growth. You have the ability to offer services through building an online portfolio where you can market for job positions that have higher pay rates.
How to Handle Taxes
For freelancers, the procedure for filing for taxes is considerably different. There are no tax deductions from your paychecks and the taxes you do pay come out more than once a year.
As a self-employed worker, you pay tax your own self-employment tax, as well as income taxes for every quarter you work. For many, this leads to minor difficulties through a freelancing career.
Taxes aren’t deducted from your paycheck, nor do you pay taxes only once a year. You pay a self-employment tax and then owe quarterly estimated income taxes. This can lead to many budgetary headaches.
Some key factors to pay attention to when filing for taxes to move the process along smoothly – make sure you are keeping track of all your income and receive a 1099-MISC form from every one of your clients. Paying self-employment tax is required for freelancers whose income is greater than $400. This self-employment tax is applied to Social Security and Medicare.
Remember that your self-employment income taxes are due every quarter you work. Paying self-employment tax is crucial for those who end up owing more than $1,000 because if you don’t pay, the IRS will add up all of those missed payments plus interest for every month.
Like was stated before, as a freelancer, you have the amazing benefit of being able to deduct all of your work-related expenses – but make sure to maintain those detailed and organized records to ensure ease of the process.
Is A Career In Freelancing Right For You?
Once you take the initial step on the path to a freelancing career, consider the benefits and risks of the field, as well as whether you have what it takes to choose this type of work. Making that decision is extremely personal and requires a great deal of understanding of how to be successful in the freelancing world.
Upwork has indicated that there are more than 56 million freelancers in America alone – which means, more than 1/3 of the population has experienced the benefits of working as a freelancer.
Know that with the amount of freedom granted, there needs to be a significant amount of commitment and time-management skills to be successful as a freelancer.