The term freelancer often comes with a stigma. It’s painted to be a picture of gig work or someone who wants flexibility and craves the work-life balance, but this isn’t the only reason people choose this career path. The future of our workforce is changing, listen to Ep 2: Google & Gig Workers podcast to see how even some of the largest companies are outsourcing to freelancers. As a college graduate that chose the untraditional route, I want to explain some of the key concepts and how I knew freelancing was the right path for me.
Why did I decide to go the untraditional route? I looked into careers that offered full time, financial security, and benefits but I wanted something that these didn’t offer. I grew up around entrepreneurship. From my grandpa building his own business from the ground up to my parents both having multiple business ventures of their own, the entrepreneurial spirit was alive and encouraged in our household.
I was taught to take risks, work hard, and to not be afraid of failure. The sense of self reliability and ownership is something I knew I needed. Now before this turns into a “work hard, play hard” cliche I want to address the facts and things to consider before taking to leap into the world of freelance.
Freelancer VS. Entrepreneur
I believe although there are differences between the two, freelancer versus a traditional corporate gig there are also a lot of overlapping traits. The risk, relying on yourself, and knowing hitting a rough patch doesn’t mean you should quit. Operating your projects and tasks like you would run your own business is crucial to your success. This includes having a business plan in place, opening a separate bank account, and having the proper software to track your profits and loss for tax purposes. These are all things I learned from research and the help of mentors.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor as a freelancer and small business was a huge turning point for me. Working through college I owe a lot of credit to my mentors. They taught me to step out of my comfort zone and grow my knowledge in and outside of the classroom. It’s important to surround yourself with a network of people who have been where you are. This extends into the professional scene you can join clubs, attend events, and further your education. There are so many useful resources, especially online, available to help you grow.
Being a freelancer allows you to grow your knowledge across various industries, not be stuck in one. You can become an expert in a specific skill or a handful of skills and get hired by multiple companies. It never gets boring to say the least. Many companies find outsourcing work much more cost effective. Simply put, getting tasks done at a fraction of the cost of paying for a full-time employee.
I’m not alone in my decision to be a full-time freelancer. In fact, the majority workforce will be like me, a freelancer and gig worker as early as 2027 according to a 2017 report by Upwork.
The Overwhelm as a Freelancer is Real
The life of freelancing is tough, to be frank. The overwhelm is a reality. You’re juggling multiple clients and projects at a time and often your time gets worked outside the traditional 9 to 5 schedule. Work will always go home with you, but that also brings in the beauty of making your own schedule. For me, the reward outweighs the stress.
Steak to Ramen
Some months are good, I mean really good. Then the next you feel like you’re in a rut looking everywhere for projects that aren’t there or not being able to close a deal. This is why I highly suggest contracts and finding clients you can get on a retainer. This adds consistency and steady cash flow taking the stress off the guessing game.
- Do your research
- Know the risks – the ups and downs can be mentally draining
- Enjoy the Perks – make it worth it
- Find a Mentor
- Prepare for Taxes
- Stay Disciplined
With all this being said freelancing isn’t for everyone. Each person has their own needs and goals that drive them. No job is perfect, but finding what you get excited for in the morning is the dream for me.