Becoming a Freelancer: Things You Should Know
You can absolutely make money freelancing, and working for yourself is one of the most rewarding career moves you can make. If you’ve already decided to ditch the nine to five, congratulations!
This is part one of our freelance work series; the goal is to equip you with necessary tips and tools so you can hit the ground running.
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What Is Freelancing Work?
A freelancer generally works as an independent contractor and has total control over the jobs they accept. However, there are freelancers who partner with agencies or companies and contract their work under that umbrella. One example would be graphic designers on Fiverr.
Freelancing jobs can include a variety of online endeavors such as owning an Etsy or Amazon shop, blogging, freelance writing, graphic design, social media management, virtual assistants, etc. Offline jobs can include real estate assessing, inspecting, accounting, computer repair etc.
Deciding which is best for you will depend on what you enjoy doing, your talents, and where the demand is — if you want to make good money.
**HOT TIP: If you’re a wiz at social media, becoming a social media freelancer is a great move. There are thousands of businesses and blogs out there that need help with their social media marketing.
How to Start Working As a Freelancer
There are a few basic set-up tasks before taking on your first client. This is not an exhaustive or detailed list as we’ll cover more specifics in the next few parts of this freelancing series.
- Register with your state (online) as a self-employed individual. A one-person business usually registers as a “sole proprietor” for tax and state registration purposes. ** Consult a tax expert or financial adviser if you’re unsure of what’s best for your situation.
- Choose a business name that fits the work you’ll be doing. This is a necessary part of filing paperwork with your state and declaring yourself a business entity. As you consider a name, you may want to see if it’s available as a domain name online.
- Almost every business has an online presence. Marketing yourself will be a thousand times easier if you have a website. It’s a good idea to match your business name with your website name — or something very similar.
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- Get an EIN number for tax purposes to avoid giving your social security number to every client you work with. This is an extra measure of personal security. The EIN is your Employment Identification Number (it’s free) and you can CLICK HERE to apply on the IRS website.
- If you will be selling physical goods, check with your state and county about how to register your business. There can be various licenses and fees that go along with selling products. It’s also extremely important to know if you’re in a location that requires you to charge sales tax on your products.
Pros and Cons of Freelancing
Working for yourself may seem like a dream come true — and it can be! However, there are many things to think about before becoming a freelancer. Some things to evaluate:
What You’ll Love About It
- You can set your own hours and have more flexibility in your day
- You’ll only answer to yourself (and your clients) — no boss calling the shots
- You are free to accept only the jobs you’d like to take
- You can control your pay rate and your raises
- The amazing feeling of being in business for yourself
- You can go to Disney World in November and ride Pirates of the Caribbean 10 times with no line
- If you’re an online business, you can often work from anywhere — living in other countries can be a major perk
Things You May Not Have Thought Of
- How to stay productive and manage your time wisely
- Ways to combat distraction if you work out of your home
- Getting your own healthcare — and affording it
- Staying organized, having a routine, and meeting deadlines
- Creating a good work space with the right supplies/ergonomic tools for comfort and health
- Getting enough exercise if you work mostly online
- Managing clients, setting your pay rates, and raising your rates
- Setting up your business with the correct paperwork, licensing etc.
- Staying on top of taxes — you must pay quarterly taxes once you make a profit
- Doing your own retirement planning
- Marketing yourself and creating a website
Neither of those lists include everything, of course — but they’ll help you have a realistic view of what it takes to make money freelancing. If you have the heart of an entrepreneur, are willing to work really hard, and you don’t mind a steep learning curve, you’ll do just fine.
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