So You Want to Freelance: Part 4

30 May 2013

The final part of my series on freelancing. Here are the first, second and third posts.

###Should I do it?

  1. Why do I want to do it? What are your top 3-5 reasons? Write them down, print it out and slap it up on the wall somewhere you can see it. Look at this list every day for a week or two before you make a decision. Do the reasons change or stay the same? If you don’t know why you want to do it, then you shouldn’t.

  2. How much of my income do I really need to replace? Inspect your income, break it down and figure out what your minimum amount needed would be. I thought I was making a respectable salary, till I sat down and really looked at it. If you are considering freelancing from home vs. commuting to a job, don’t forget to account for that. You will eliminate a big expense by not commuting AND you will regain about 5 hours of non-productive time/week on average (what could you do with this extra time? A passion project? Learn to code? Pro-bono work?). Deduct your cost of commuting from your annual income- that’s the income you need to replace. You might even want to take this chance to cut out some expenses from your life- get rid of cable perhaps? Or that gym membership you never use? A cheaper phone plan? Shop around for a better deal on car insurance and/or renters/homeowners insurance- it could all add up to savings of several hundreds per month.

  3. Can I replace it? When I factored in my commute and time spent at work, I realized I was spending 50 hours a week on ‘work related activities’. Once I deducted the cost of commuting and accounted for 50 and not 40 hours, I figured that I was actually making about 75% of what I thought I was making. I also realized that as a freelancer, I was able to get paid a little more than twice this amount on an hourly basis. So effectively, I need to be booking about half the amount of work- 25 hours a week to make the same money. Am I confident I can get to that? So far it seems like I can get pretty close, and I can certainly live on less money for a while if needed. If you can figure out your answer to this question, that will help you decide.

  4. How connected am I? Have you been attending conferences/meetups/other events and getting to know the community you live in? Are you involved with the AIGA or other similar organizations? Have you let your entire network know that you are available and seeking work? This will be your best bet for finding work initially, until you make a name for yourself and people start approaching you for work. It might not be the most comfortable thing to do, but unless you make it extremely clear to everyone what kind of work you want to do and that you are available to do it, how would they know to think of you when the time comes? If you haven’t already been doing it, you should be prepared for a rougher start to your freelance career.

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