Career Advice Job seek in HK

Things to Consider Before You Jump into Freelance Work

Freelance work seems to be an ideal work situation: flexible hours, location independence, being your own boss, cherry-picking projects, and choosing who to work for. While the benefits are plenty, freelance work isn’t for everyone. Those considering the jump into a full-time freelance career path should carefully consider a number of factors before taking the plunge.

Self-management. As unpleasant as it may be to hear, not everyone is good at managing themselves. Some people thrive and meet goals and deadlines only when there is someone else to help them manage time and expectations. As a freelancer, that responsibility is yours alone and many people struggle because they lack the discipline to manage their own time and work effectively. In order to succeed at freelancing, you must be able to set expectations and guidelines for your work, regardless of where your location may be and other distractions that may stand in your way. Learn to carve out a productive work schedule that will fit in with your lifestyle, set goals for project completion, and stick to a routine work schedule on as regular a basis as possible. 

Marketing. Freelancers need to be exceptional marketers, and not just for their product or service, but for themselves as well. Connecting with and securing clients, as well as signing new work agreements with existing clients, are vital to the success of freelancers and require a lot of networking and leveraging of that network. If you lack the skills to market and sell yourself to potential clients and collaborators, and to do it constantly and consistently, it will prove difficult to find enough work and happy, satisfied customers to hold on to the freelance title. As a freelancer, you must always be ready to pitch yourself to new potential clients, even if it’s during informal meetings. 

Know your value. Most freelancers often undervalue themselves and their work. The reasons are varied and can range from lack of confidence to not knowing what your true market value is, as well as a fear of losing potential clients. Don’t short change yourself by working for less pay than you deserve. Talk to other freelancers in your field to get an idea of what pricing scale is used in your specific marketplace and modify accordingly. Charge more if you have experience or expertise in your field and charge less if you’re just starting out. Reach out to recruiters and see where you fall on their pay scale. Even if you don’t end up finding work through a recruiting agency, you’ll gain insight on what you should be getting paid.  

Business-minded. Along with gaining independence and flexibility, freelancers will also take on the added responsibility of running their own business as a self-employed entrepreneur. While some individuals will thrive and be excited to handle all aspects of running a business, others may feel overwhelmed with the confusing legal, accounting, and tax papers that must be prepared and executed. If you’re not business-minded, you’ll need to learn fast or be ready to pay someone to help you sort through all the requirements of working for yourself. 

Resilience. The life of a freelancer is one fraught with uncertainty and slow periods when work may be scarce or even non-existent. As you start considering whether or not freelancing is right for you, save up money to tide you over should there be a slowdown in your workload. Be sure to have enough of a financial security blanket to support you for at least six months. Ask yourself if you have the patience and the resilience to continue pushing yourself when the going gets tough. 

Assertiveness. Speak to any freelancer and one of the most common complaints about freelance life is getting clients to pay their invoices on time. Almost all instances of delayed payment are not malicious acts by clients trying to scam you out of payment. This is usually due to either forgetfulness, being too busy, or bureaucratic processes. While extremely frustrating and time-consuming, be assertive and follow-up as often as necessary to ensure that you are paid for your services by your clients. Work to make the invoice process as smooth and seamless for clients whenever possible, and be sure to have a reliable invoice payment tracking system so that you don’t let any unpaid invoices slip through the cracks either.

The rewards and successes of a freelance life is worthy of envy, but it doesn’t come easily. Freelance work is difficult work and should be carefully considered before anyone decides to take the plunge. You don’t want to find yourself floundering as a freelancer in the deep end without a lifeline to financial security and happiness.