Are you planning to change or quit your job and go into freelance work? You’re in good company.
According to a recent study, with 5,039,000 self-employed workers, Italy is the European country with the highest number of self-employed workers in absolute terms (21.7% of the total employed).
But full-time freelance work isn’t for everyone. If you’re considering setting up on your own, here are five important questions you should ask yourself before starting:
- Can you afford not to make money right away?
- Have you calculated the costs in the long run?
- Do you like to relate to people?
- Do you have the right skills?
- Can you separate work from private life?
1. Can you afford not to make money right away?
Before dealing with your first paying customer, you will need to take the time to:
- build your website
- promote your services
- create an online network of contacts
- look for sites that offer freelance work
- attract new customers
These are all activities for which you will not receive any direct compensation. How are you going to cover the costs and make a living while setting up your business and you haven’t started earning yet?
The answer is: you save. Enough to support you for at least three months, or even more, as you search for new clients and freelance work.
Without an initial financial backup, you will tend to take low or low-paying jobs and risk burnout even before you become freelance and start your own business.
No savings? You can undertake freelance work parallel to a traditional job. This way you can learn the basics of the new profession, build your customer network and make decisions without the financial aspect putting you under pressure.
2. Have you calculated the costs in the long run?
Costs and freelance work, how does it work? You will have to take care of all expenses, even those that are usually incurred by the employer: equipment, taxes, health and activity insurance, vacation, and sick days. You will therefore need to be sure of:
- cover all essential costs
- achieve your financial goals
To understand what your “ideal” remuneration is, I suggest you calculate the number of costs immediately, rather than doing it at the last moment. Consider how much income you would like to have available, how many hours you want to work, and also the average rate applied in your sector. For more advice on this topic, you can read the article “ How to set your right freelance rate ”. Also, don’t miss our valuable tips on how to reduce business costs.
3. Do you enjoy relating to people?
No bosses, no company policies, no time wasted doing homework every day of the week: freelance work seems like a dream! Well, that’s not always the case.
If you are considering freelancing because you hate taking orders from others, you don’t like dealing with people, you prefer to avoid conflicts, here are some aspects of this job to keep in mind:
- You will no longer have a boss. You will have several! You will need to be accountable for what you do to every client, project manager, and the agency you work with.
- Building a network of relationships is the secret to success. There are many ways to get freelance work, but the most effective, in my opinion, is to build a network with colleagues and potential clients. When it becomes possible again, I recommend that you participate in events dedicated to your sector (check sites like best au online casino to find those organized in your area) or establish contacts on platforms such as Linkedin or similar. Throughout my career, the best projects have come about thanks to recommendations from colleagues or clients.
- You will have to manage each project from start to finish. And that means interfacing with new people, attracting potential customers, being able to sell your services, knowing how to set the right freelance rate, managing projects, and any collaborations, as well as resolving conflicts when things don’t go as planned. If you’d rather devote all of your time to just the part of the job you love and not all of those chores, freelancing may not be for you.
Even if this prospect seems like a nightmare, you don’t have to give up freelance work! You can test the waters first, by undertaking a parallel activity to your main one, or by collaborating with people who take care of the tasks you don’t like.
4. Do you have the right skills to become a freelancer?
When you work as a freelancer, the responsibility for the assignment falls entirely on you: you must be able to complete the project that has been entrusted to you by the client.
Every professional knows the impostor syndrome: that feeling, especially at the beginning of a career path, of not being up to par and of not having enough experience and skills. Here are some tips to objectively assess your skills:
- Read the job posting descriptions. Are you a junior graphic designer or a copywriter with some experience? Look for some job offers for roles similar to the one you want to fill and check the required skills, qualifications, and responsibilities. It may not be the perfect method, but you will get an idea of what the market needs.
- Compare yourself to other freelancers. Look for sites of people working in your industry (maybe some will already be in your LinkedIn contacts) and take a look at their freelance portfolio and pricing page. Don’t compare yourself too much with others: each of us has something different to offer! However, if you realize that the difference in the quality of work is great, try to improve your skills, to strengthen your self-esteem as well.
If you realize it’s not time to leave your job yet, don’t give up! Use these tips to reassess the situation in six months. In the meantime, grab any opportunity to improve: on-the-job training, online courses, or refresher reading on the latest trends in your industry.
5. Can you separate freelance work from private life?
You must be able to draw a clear line between freelance work and your private life. It can be complicated because, on the one hand, customers have bet on you (and not on a generic brand) and you, on the other hand, have placed their trust in them. When trust fails, it’s hard not to take it personally.
For example, when you work as an employee it is easy to shift the responsibility onto someone else and say phrases like “I’m sorry, orders coming from above!” or “If I could, I would, but my hands are tied.”
When you work as a freelancer, however, instead take responsibility for everything related to your business: call your favorite client on the phone to remind him that he is two weeks late with the payment of an invoice, communicate to one of your clients more be fond that you are raising your rates or dealing with negative criticism of your work.
A solid freelance contract will protect both you and your clients. There will be occasions when you will find yourself demanding scrupulous compliance with contractual clauses and it is not right for you to lose sleep at the idea of having to do so.
Becoming a freelancer: what to remember
Freelancing has tons of benefits: it gives you more flexibility, more time to spend with the family, more opportunities, and the ability to set your rates. But remember that freelancing is much more than just a job: it’s about running a real business. That’s why it’s important to be realistic about how much time you have and what you can get right from the start.