Building a career is a very important life goal for most people, regardless of what industry in which they find their calling. From white collar executives to blue collar contractors, building a good name for yourself and maximizing your skills can mean a higher salary or more job security. Why wouldn’t somebody want to be the best they can be in their field?

While most people find employment in the services of a company, a select few decide to break out of the mold and start their own ventures. Among this group, an even smaller number of them – often known as freelancers – provide contractual and one-time services to a variety of clients as needed.

The world of freelancing – particularly in the online arena – can be a rewarding and exciting endeavor. However, becoming a freelancer isn’t as easy as you might think. Today, we’ll examine four things you need to know and consider before starting your freelance career.


Staying Focused Is Difficult


One of the first obstacles many freelancers encounter in their nascent careers is the freedom that the role provides. Many people, used to rigid office routines and/or schedules planned by others, suddenly find themselves having to dictate their own schedules and maintaining a focus amid distractions.

For freelancers working from home, this can be exceptionally difficult. Between family responsibilities, children coming and going throughout the day and a plethora of tempting distractions such as social media, it can be difficult to maintain a steady focus on your work.

Finding ways to stay focused as a freelancer requires dedication. Now that you no longer have a direct boss breathing over your shoulder and/or watching everything you do, taking breaks and indulging in various distractions can feel consequence-free. Except it isn’t: too many distractions and you’re suddenly behind schedule or even losing clients.


Covering Your Butt Is Crucial

One of the major indirect benefits of working for a company is that you don’t have to worry about the concept of liability. Other than doing what you’re told, there are relatively few financial risks when performing the tasks asked of you. However, as a freelancer, you suddenly don’t enjoy these protections – you are your own man/woman.

You should consider general liability insurance. You will want to find a reliable provider as General liability is essential when working in the world of freelancers. Why is this? Any number of things could go wrong – especially when providing physical services in the real world. One mistake or error can potentially result in harm, frustration, or even damages, with the relevant client(s) potentially seeking financial compensation from you.

As such, it is vital to carry liability insurance as a freelancer to protect yourself against those worst-case scenarios.


Having a Financial Reserve Is Vital

Anybody who has been a freelancer for a period of time will tell you that one of the biggest drawbacks is the lack of financial guarantee. When working a standard 9-to-5 job, you know how much you’re going to bring home this week, next week, and so forth.

In the world of freelancing, there are no such guarantees. You may very well find yourself swamped with work one week and completely devoid of it next week. This can lead to some very unequal financial outcomes from week to week, and it requires careful planning and budget management.

Most freelancers will tell you that when it rains, it pours. Likewise, those dry spells can be very intense: as such, be sure to save any excess profits for the future (you’ll need it).


Being Flexible Is the Key to Success


Another benefit of being employed in a traditional sense is knowing your exact responsibilities and purposes on the job. You come in each day and have a general idea of what is expected of you. With freelancing, however, you can throw this mindset out the window.

While you can – and should – set guidelines and limits to what services you’re willing to provide, many of the most successful freelancers have made their careers because they took a few risks. You might not feel particularly comfortable or familiar with a requested project but pushing your own limits can sometimes lead to beneficial surprises.

As such, you need to be flexible in this career. Perhaps that means taking on some jobs that are more stringent than your usual ones, or maybe it involves accepting entirely new projects altogether. The more you can adapt to the world of freelancing, the more opportunities you’ll open up for yourself.

There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to becoming a freelancer. If you have a basic set of talents, then you probably have everything you need to get started. Before you quit your day job and pursue freelancing full-time, however, carefully consider the topics discussed above and ask yourself if this path sounds right for you. For those who can handle a bit of stress, irregularity, and distraction, the world of freelancing can be a highly lucrative – and permanent – career solution.

Photo credits: eOffice
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