Freelancing can seem like a glamorous gig: Wake up late, avoid the long commute, and work in your pajamas from your comfy arm chair. But freelancing isn’t for everyone; if you’re considering a transition from employee to contractor, take a look at the following checklist to find out if you’re cut out for the task.
Are you comfortable being your own boss?
As a freelancer, you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck or coworkers to keep you motivated (or distract you, for that matter). Freelancing requires a healthy amount of self-discipline; if you don’t make the effort to acquire new clients and meet deadlines, you don’t get paid.
Are your finances are in order?
Before you put in your two-week notice, consider the state of your personal finances. Freelance work is often irregular and undependable, so it’s a good idea to keep a couple months’ worth of expenses stocked away until you’re settled into a rhythm.
Do you have initial clients lined up?
Every freelancer dreams of having a few steady clients that you can count on to provide you with constant work. You might not have this luxury right away, but it’s paramount to have some connections in place when you start.
Can you sell yourself?
Personal marketing is perhaps the biggest barrier to entry for professionals making the switch to the freelance lifestyle. In addition to maintaining an obvious online presence, use your personal connections and ask clients to refer their friends and colleagues to you; chances are, if you did a good job they already will.
Do you know what you’re worth?
The biggest question for new freelancers is almost invariably, “What do I charge?” While the answer to that question obviously depends on the type of work you’re doing, you can’t be afraid to set a price and stick to it. Because freelancers are responsible for their own insurance and retirement finances, charge comparatively more than your previous hourly wage.
Are your skills are in demand?
Even after you’ve answered every other question in the affirmative, if there isn’t a market for what you provide, you won’t find work. Freelancers are a dime a dozen. If you don’t believe me, visit Craigslist. The key is specialization. Do you have experience writing for a teenage audience? How about editing health care publications? Geography also plays a big role in determining demand, and the more willing you are to commute to meet with clients face-to-face, the more jobs will be available to you.
What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.
Andrew Cross is a Chicago-based public relations professional with Walker Sands Communications and a contributing writer for PR Daily. Follow him on Twitter at @Andrew_R_Cross.