A lot of people lost their jobs during the pandemic. Many people are in jobs they hate. Naturally, there are a lot more people out there thinking about getting into freelancing. The question is: should you become a freelancer? If you’re thinking about it, here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure it all out.
Can you manage your time?
When you become a freelancer, there’s no one laying out a schedule for you. You can work in the morning, the afternoon, you can take long weekends if you want to. Thing is, some people are paralyzed by the idea of having to structure their own time.
And, if you’ve worked for an employer your whole life, it’ll take a while for you to get used to the mindset that you’re in control of your time. But, you should really think about it: do you think you’ll be good at this? Are you good at estimating the time it takes to get projects done? Ask yourself some hard questions about time management, because that’s extremely important when it comes to freelancing!
Are you disciplined?
Time management is one thing, but are you disciplined enough to use that time properly? Are you easily distracted by other stuff? If so, would you have the discipline it takes to address those distractions? Do you have kids to take care of while you work? Can you bring some order to the house to get things done?
When you’re working for yourself, you have to be dedicated to your business, and to your clients. That means, getting the job done, on time. It means delivering a high quality product or service. You can totally become a freelancer without that kind of discipline, but you won’t get very far.
Are you a people person?
You might think that you can become a freelancer in fields that are generally reserved for introverts, whether it’s accounting or graphic design. When you work for an employer, they hand you all the work, and you never have to deal with customers or vendors.
When you freelance, you have to do everything. That means, doing customer service, dealing with third party vendors, networking within your industry, answering questions from potential new clients, etc. That requires really good communication skills, and you should be really straight with yourself: am I good at that? Can I improve my skills?
Are you game to do the stuff you hate?
A lot of artists become freelancers, and the one thing they hate to do is the marketing side of things. As an artist myself, I know that it can be extra hard to promote myself and my work. I’ve yet to meet a creative person that doesn’t suffer from a form of imposter syndrome.
But, that doesn’t have to block your success. You gotta be willing to just work through it and see the stuff you hate doing as a means to an end. In other words, are you willing to do the shitty stuff to get you to where you want to be?
Do you get discouraged easily?
You will lose contracts. You will win some. You might not get a boat load of clients in your first year in business. You might get feedback that isn’t easy to process. And, some people just won’t like you, for no reason at all! It can be competitive out there and competition does crazy things to people. Can you handle that insecurity? Do you take things very personally?
I don’t think that you need to become inhuman to do freelance work. But, it is the type of work that really depends on being cool-headed in the face of defeats, insults, and lows. The flip side of things is that the highs, the wins, and the compliments are absolutely amazing. Can you handle all of that?
Can people trust you?
Are you trustworthy? Are you someone that people can trust with their money? Remember, some of your clients might be small businesses. They might be employees, trading their free time for a wage. Even the highly successful companies look for people to work with that they can depend on, and trust.
Would you trust yourself with a $20,000 loan? Would you trust yourself to help an aging parent? If you haven’t been dependable in the past, that’s not a death sentence. You can change how you do things. But, make sure that’s a priority because all it takes is one really bad experience to sink your freelance business.
Do you REALLY want to freelance?
Sorry for stating the obvious here, but is that something you even really want to do? Or is it just a passing thought?
If you want to see if it’s right for you, I always recommend that people start off doing it part-time. Whether you’ve already got a job, or not, if you start doing your own thing on the side, you’ll start to get a good feel for what it’s like.
Worse comes to worse, you’ll pick up some new skills that you can add to your resume!
Maybe it’s not for you?
Freelancing looks like an easy way to make money. It’s certainly nice to not have a boss watching your every move, or needing approval from a manager for vacation time. But, it’s far from easy.
The thing is, there’s no shame in admitting that it’s just not for you. And, if you hate your job right now, you might be better off finding a new place to work at, than choosing to become your own business.
In the end, the worst thing you could do is to start offering your services or products to people full-time, and not be suited for that line of work at all. So, be real with yourself – and if it’s not a good fit, don’t do it. Besides, there are all sorts of fun jobs out there, and you could put your energy into finding the right fit for you!