This month marks the one year anniversary of my freelancing career! It’s not a massive milestone in any way, but I’ll certainly take what I can get. It’s been interesting to explore and figure out this world that I never thought I’d ever be a part of. Since I’ve started freelancing, I’ve learned a few important things that anyone should now. Whether you’re aspiring to be a freelancer or have recently begun to do so, these are important things to know about freelancing. That way, you won’t make any mistakes- minor or major.
1. Have a portfolio.
Depending on your field of choice, your portfolio may look wildly different from a fellow freelancer. An online portfolio is wise, as most employers will only view your resume and work online. However, have a hard copy of your portfolio prepared in case you have to see a potential employer in-person. If you don’t have any professional work, use school work or personal projects until you have professional work that can be used in your portfolio. Have something that’s clean and easy for potential employers to understand.
2. Be prepared for rejection.
Freelancing is all about putting yourself out there constantly in the name of getting work. It’s critical, but it’s also a terrifying prospect when you really think about it. The most important part to take away is that you going to be told “no” way more than you may think. It sucks, I get it. But you need to steel yourself, take a deep breath, and push forward after every “no” you receive. The more you do so, the sooner you’ll hear that one “yes” that you’ve been hoping for.
3. Be careful when handling finances and taxes.
The biggest thing that made me nervous when I began freelancing was the financial aspect. How do I submit invoices? Do I apply taxes to them, or no? How the hell do you even file taxes as a freelancer? These questions and many more concerned me; and they could very well concern you, too. The best thing to do is to research this subject as much as possible. Depending on what country you live in, the tax laws may vary from one to another. If you’re really unsure, contact a tax firm, or a government body like the IRS or CRA with any questions and concerns you have. Don’t worry about asking too many questions, or “stupid questions”. It’s much better to be safe than sorry in this case.
4. Don’t limit yourself to your physical location.
When you’re looking for a job at an office, you’re typically limited to where you live. You can only focus on where you live, as well as other cities or towns close by. But most freelance jobs can be done from home, which will easily expand your horizons when it comes to job searching. Don’t be afraid to look for work from state to state, or province to province. Just make sure that the job description explicitly states that it’s a remote or from home position. If you explore work in another country (i.e. looking for work in the United States when you’re from Canada, or vice versa), tax and work laws may change a little. Do you research to make sure that everything it done legally, or just stick to your country.
5. Ensure that everything is documented.
This is arguably the most important tip because it’s about documenting everything- invoices, payments, contracts, and much more. Don’t skimp over anything– crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s protects you from losing money, or doing work that’s unnecessary. In other words, keep any and all documentation that you can get your hands on to avoid a bad employer from scamming you. That’s any freelancer’s worst nightmare, so make sure that it doesn’t happen to you!
Starting a career in freelancing- whether your field is graphic design, web design, or writing like myself- can be a nerve-wracking prospect. But with these tips in mind, and the right tools at your disposal, you can very well be a successful freelancer. Even it’s only a side hustle and not your full-time occupation, you can still make a lot of money and gain recognition in your own right in this challenging, albeit rewarding industry.