Going independent and taking up freelance work has extraordinary appeal. The benefits of being your own boss, choosing the work you truly want to do, flexibility in your schedule and a potentially boosted income are obvious, but before you hop on the freelance bandwagon, consider the pitfalls and assess not only whether it’s right for you, but whether you are right for it. Working solo isn’t for everyone and without the support of a stable regular work environment, you may find yourself both personally and professionally, adrift.
As a freelancer, much like applying for permanent roles, you’ll be competing with people with very similar skillsets and such competition is not for everyone. Some people will struggle to acclimatise to working without holiday or sick-pay, no offer of a workplace pension and other workplace benefits of permanent employment. However, with the evolving work environment and focus upon work-life balance, many are choosing the more flexible career that freelancing offers and once settled, wouldn’t dream of returning to permanent employment.
Competition is fierce and many brands/agencies will have their regular pool of freelance / contract talent who they turn to when the need arises. Before you’ve formed a broad network of contacts, you may have to be patient for work to come your way – and when it does, you must strive to deliver high quality, on time, every time. It’s up to you to establish a reputation and live up to it, time after time… There’s no room for an off day as a freelancer. Once you’ve established a good network of clients (we can help you with this!), work tends to roll in more regularly – and that’s when the benefits of a contract lifestyle really start to kick in!
When you freelance, you are essentially starting your own business, where you are the brand. Whether you take up assignments on-site with clients, or work remotely, success as a freelancer calls for a high degree of discipline. Being focused and adhering to timelines and quality standards is paramount.
If you enter into a fixed price project, agreeingEdit Link a contract which is comprehensive regarding scope, timelines, payment terms and expectations from both sides, can sometimes feel like hassle when you’re itching to dive in to the work – but doing this up front will protect you from things such as multiple revisions and changes in scope that may otherwise require extra work without additional pay.
There may be lull periods when your project flow may be down to a trickle. You must have the emotional and financial muscle to see this through. So think like an entrepreneur and expect the lean seasons and plan your finances well – especially your taxes, there’s simply no escaping them.
Ultimately if you choose to live a life less ordinary, you’ll reap the rewards both professionally and personally but be aware that this flexibility comes not without risk… And always remember to plan ahead for that rainy day – even though the sun may be beaming down on your pipeline at present!
For more background info on setting up as a freelancer, check out our 13 point guide to freelancing.
And do make sure you get in touch with Paula to discuss how Pitch can make your freelance life more profitable and to chat through all of our latest freelance opportunities.