Are you considering starting freelancing? There’s no denying the attractions of the freelance life.
You can choose your own projects, work your own hours, and enjoy a sense of freedom way beyond anything you’d experience in most ordinary careers.
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Plus in the current business world, freelancers can work in nearly every vocation, from programmers to content writers, graphic designers to marketers. As a mom, having this flexibility can be a game changer. However, getting started with no experience in an online job, freelancing, can be daunting.
One downside, of course, is that there’s no safety net. Your future relies on you and you alone. This can be a terrifying thought if you’re considering walking away from a conventional job and embarking on life as a freelancer.
However, if you’re wavering in your decision to take the leap and become a freelancer, remember that lots of people have already made a success of this career path. Some even used maternity leave to launch their own freelance business. To join them, you just need to go forward with your eyes fully open, realistic expectations and be well prepared.
5 Steps to Prepare for Freelancing
1. Research Your Chosen Freelance Field
Knowing what you’re getting into is vital. Your choice of freelancing field can mean the difference between a successful career and a life of frustration. Find out how much competition you’re likely to face, how much paying work there is available on average, and what the market rate for your services will be.
If you are going with no experience in an online job as a freelancer, how difficult will it be to educate yourself and get up to speed? Would an online course or even internship get you there quicker? Is it possible to use some of your existing skills to move into a new industry or industry knowledge to move into a new position?
Some fields like social media are constantly changing so even people who have worked in the field for years have to constantly relearn, you might find you’re not at that much of a disadvantage. On the other hand, jobs like medical writers clearly need specialized knowledge which is going to be hard to hard to learn in a few weeks.
Be honest with yourself: is this going to be a viable business? Have you got what it takes to stand out from the crowd and win enough work to keep you busy? Or is the skill in such high demand that you can charge a premium despite lack of experience? Will your clients pay well enough to give you a decent life outside work, or will every waking hour be spent chasing a few extra dollars?
Freelance work is always going to involve a degree of uncertainty, but if the answers to these questions don’t stack up then it’s better to pivot early and find a niche that will support you before you’re deeply committed.
2. Be Financially Prepared for Freelancing
Every freelancer experiences peaks and troughs in their income. Before launching into your new career, ensure you have around six months’ of expense money in the bank.
When you’re working hard to build a new business, the last thing you need is to be worrying about making your mortgage or rent payments. Especially if you have a family to support, you never want to put their financial security in jeopardy.
Also thoroughly research the extra financial commitments you’ll take on as a freelancer. You’ll be responsible for your own tax arrangements (and this may mean hiring a bookkeeper or accountant to help), and you won’t be enjoying any employer-provided healthcare benefits unless you can arrange to get them through your partner.
Be realistic about how much you can earn as a freelancer. Ask other freelancers, consider what the average prices are (looking on Upwork or going to some networking events can start to give you an idea) and that you might need to lower them while you’re getting started.
While this is important for everyone — it’s even more critical when you’re a mom and have financial responsibilities to your kids.
3. Start to Test the Waters
If at all possible, consider keeping up some regular part-time work to have at least a little money coming in until your freelance career gains traction. Also, be wary of over-committing yourself in your desire to hit the ground running, and only take on projects you absolutely know you can handle.
Deadline pressure can be a great motivator for a seasoned freelance entrepreneur but can make the less experienced freeze in terror or inevitably means that a kid is going to get sick right about deadline time. Always include an extra time buffer for all those unexpected things being a mom can throw your way.
A no experience online job will likely be slippery so it’s important realistic rates for your early jobs. Don’t price yourself out of the market — you haven’t yet got the experience to command a premium — but try not to work for a pittance just to build a portfolio. You’ll find it very hard to escape this mindset later on, not to mention the difficulty of raising rates with existing clients to a more realistic level once you’ve become more established.
4. Be Ready to Work Hard but Stop Working
No matter what the other benefits of independent work, very few freelancers fulfill the dream of working part-time for a full-time wage on completely their own schedule. There’s usually clients who need things done by a deadline, new launches to keep on schedule or the project that goes terribly pear-shaped.
Not to mention, it’s very easy to let work creep into your personal time to the point you never feel fully off the clock. You do need to have a lot of drive and determination to succeed as a freelancer, that said try to make boundaries so you don’t find yourself working more than you did at your job.
5. Think About the Social Side
The freedom of working on your own also comes with an obvious drawback — it’s a lonely job at times. If you enjoy going into the office and getting some time with adults, you might not enjoy being stuck at home. Honestly consider your personal style and try to make friends with some other freelance moms to get their take.
They don’t have to be in your field – many of the issues freelancers face are common across all industries – and they don’t even have to be in your area; the web is a wonderful reducer of distance. Simply having someone who understands your way of life is a great start — plus if you do decide to go freelance, having a network is extremely important.
Despite all these warnings, most freelance moms say they’d love to be independent and don’t miss the days in the office. Setting about your career in the right way from the very beginning will help ensure your future success.