Freelancing is a popular career choice for many people, especially those with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to escape a boring 9-to-5 office job. Yet while a freelancing career can be liberating in many ways, it’s also a very difficult route to take. Not everyone is suited to this way of working.
There are a number of character traits and natural tendencies you need in order to succeed as a freelance professional. If you don’t have at least some of these characteristics, then you’ll soon find working for your own clients is even more grueling than working for a boss.
Being self-employed and growing your own business is a lot harder than people imagine. A lot of people try freelancing but end up returning to a more traditional job after a year or two. In most cases, this is because they were not really suited to a freelance way of working in the first place.
So how can you tell whether you’ll love freelancing or soon find it an anxiety-inducing struggle?
Here are 10 questions to help you discover whether a freelancing career is for you:
Do you mind working alone?
Freelancing is more often than not a solitary career. Freelancers do come together to collaborate sometimes and also to meet with clients, but usually, you’ll be working alone. If you’re content spending many hours by yourself, usually working in your home office/studio, then freelancing will be an ideal career choice.
Are you good at organizing your time?
As a freelancer, you’re in full control of how many hours you work. This is liberating in one sense but also a big responsibility in another. The majority of successful freelancers micromanage their time, using time-tracking tools, to ensure they’re making use of each and every minute.
If you have an eye for details and you are naturally an organized person, then freelancing will suit your personality. If not, then you’ll very quickly be in trouble.
Can you wear many hats?
Part of being organized as a freelancer is the ability to do many different things, often in a single day. It’s easy to picture freelancing as simply working on a client’s project but there’s a lot more to it than that.
Freelancers are business owners. You’ll need to carry out tasks related to marketing, invoicing, bookkeeping, contract negotiating, website upkeep, networking, and ongoing self-learning, and more.
Can you focus when in any surroundings?
A big draw of the freelance lifestyle is the ability to potentially work just about anywhere with an internet connection. You can spend your mornings in your favorite coffee shop and your afternoons in a co-working space. You can even run a freelancing business while traveling the world.
This is all possible but only if you have the ability to focus on your work wherever you go. Distractions are huge when you’re out and about but if you can still hone in on what needs to be done, and get it done, then freelancing is ideal.
Can you self-motivate yourself?
Everyone is motivated when they begin a new business or adventure. It’s easy to be excited and hardworking in those early days. The problems arise weeks and months later when work becomes a little monotonous or clients are still hard to come by.
Successful freelancing requires self-motivation. It means ignoring the temptations of television, social media, phones, and unnecessary visits to the local store. If you’re good at motivating yourself to reach your targets, then freelancing is a sound career choice.
Are you comfortable with risk and uncertainty?
There are absolutely no guarantees you’ll succeed when you start down the freelancing path. In fact, for many people who try, freelancing ends in frustration. However, with hard work, determination, and intelligent planning, there’s a decent chance you’ll do well. But you’ll never really known until you reach your goals.
You just have to be comfortable with that uncertainty and plough on regardless. It takes time to build a lucrative freelancing career. And the fact is, even when you make it, you’re not guaranteed clients all the time even then.
Do you have self-confidence?
As well as having the ability to live with uncertainty, a successful freelancer also needs a lot of self-confidence. You have to believe in yourself and your worth, especially when it comes to being paid what you deserve. Negotiating rates and contracts, and dealing with any bad clients, requires guts and self-belief.
If you’re severely lacking in self-confidence, then you might find a freelance career difficult, especially when it comes to earning decent fees.
Are you a good communicator?
A big part of self-confidence comes across in communications with your clients. Phone conversations are often necessary, which can be a little uncomfortable even for experienced professionals. Whether nervous or not, you’ll need to be able to convey confidence, control, and likeability.
You can be exceptional at what you do but if you come across as a nervous wreck in that first phone call, then you’ll probably lose the prospect. If you’re reasonably comfortable chatting on the phone, then freelancing clients will be relatively easy to come by.
Do you enjoy flexibility?
No two clients are alike. You often need to adapt your services to fit a client’s unique requirements. This needs creativity and flexibility on your part in order to deliver the perfect set of services for their goals.
Also, what your freelancing business looks like on Day One will inevitably be somewhat different a year or two down the line. Freelancing success requires flexibility and adaptability in order to fill gaps in the market. If you prefer safe predictability, a freelance life will not be for you.
Do you have a skill?
There are freelance professionals, in many diverse sectors, making a lot of money doing what they love to do. And you can do the same. If, that is, you have a particular skill enough people are willing to pay good money for.
Competition is very fierce and so it’s wise to have an in demand skill you’re good at, know how to market, and can develop into a specialism. If you don’t, then freelancing is going to be an uphill battle.
Is freelancing right for you?
Take a little time to think over these questions. Dig down deep and answer them as truthfully as possible. You may not have positive answers for all the questions right now, and that’s okay, as long as you can see a way to develop these traits and skills.
Freelancing is a fantastic career choice, especially when you have a passion for the skills you want to be paid for. It allows you to shape your work day as you see fit and work with some amazing clients on some fantastic projects.
However, it is hard work, especially in the first few months and years. You need to love what you do because initially you’ll be working a lot harder than you were in your office job.