Are you worried about money? Sick with concern about how you’re going to make ends meet? Fearful that you’ll suddenly get laid off? If so, it’s time to do something about it.
It’s time for you to do something about it. Not the government. It’s time for you to take control of your money and get out of the recession mindset that’s plaguing our country.
By becoming a freelancer.
What’s a Freelancer?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a freelancer is “a person who acts independently without being affiliated with or organized by an organization; who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer.”
- A freelancer is a part-time or full-time independent contractor who:
- Works for multiple clients.
- Is her own boss.
- Enjoys working for herself.
- Enjoys a variety of assignments.
- Charges by the hour or by the project.
- Likes setting her own hours.
- Usually works from home.
- Revels in being independent.
- Offers a deliverable (something concrete and tangible that she does for a client or customer).
How Does Freelancing Help You Take Control of Your Money?
If you’ve recently lost your job, freelancing is a great way to keep money flowing in while looking for a new job. Not only does it keep you from looking “unemployed” on your resume, it also provides valuable workplace skills that you can take with you to your new job.
If, on the other hand, you’d just like to bring in some extra cash to supplement your regular income, boost your savings, retirement, or college accounts, or pad your emergency fund, part-time freelancing gives you the opportunity to do just that.
Is Freelancing the Answer for You?
Here are some of the pros and cons to carefully consider before becoming a freelancer:
- You set your own hours.
- You can work as little or as much as you want.
- You’re not obligated to accept a job.
- All your eggs are not in one basket (as they are when you have just one job). Because freelancers have multiple clients, if one of your clients succumbs to the recession, you’ll still have other clients flowing money to you.
- You have no employees or partners to encumber you.
- You have no business to run, in the traditional sense.
- You can work in multiple time zones, beginning or ending your day as early or as late as you like.
- Since freelance work ebbs and flows, becoming a full-time freelancer may not be the answer if you need to have a steady income.
- Global competition. People from other parts of the world may be able to offer the same services as you for far less.
- Clients don’t always pay on time.
- It takes time and money to make contacts, meet prospects, and drum-up business.
- At first, money flowing in will be slow.
- If you’re already holding down a full-time job, your leisure time will decrease and time spent with family and friends will be limited.
How to Get Started
Despite the potential cons, becoming a freelancer is one of the single most inexpensive and hassle-free ways to start up a new business. Most of the time, you don’t need to do much more than fill out the paperwork to register your business as a DBA (doing business as) or LLC (limited liability company). And in some states you may not even need to register as a business (check your home state for requirements). In addition, you’ll also want to have:
- Business cards.
- Business cell phone.
- Business P.O. Box.
- A short list of references who praise your work.
- A simple website to promote yourself.
Wondering what work you would do as a freelancer?
Think about the things you are currently good at doing—either at your full-time job or as a hobby. If you are good at it, chances are someone else will be willing to pay you to do it.
Look first at a skill you do well. Then brainstorm a variety of ways you can use that skill across different target markets. For instance, if you are a violinist, you could teach private or group lessons, coach ensembles preparing for competition, form a string quartet and play for specialty events, or become a music critic and write for a newspaper.
Fields where freelancing is especially common include accounting, acting, architecture, art, computer programming, cooking, copy editing, film production, floral arranging, graphic design, interior design, landscaping, political consulting, private investigation, music, research, software development, tailoring, translation, upholstering, and writing.
Finding Clients and Customers
How do you find clients?
Since freelancers are frequently hired by word-of-mouth, start by sending an e-mail message to everyone in your address book saying that you’re hanging out your shingle as a freelancer. In just a couple of sentences, explain what it is you’re now doing, what services you’ll be offering, and briefly summarize your qualifications. Ask them to forward your message to everyone in their address book.
Next, explore the Internet for freelance job sites in your area of expertise. Here are a few of the standard sites to get you started:
- All Freelance Directory is an all-in-one directory and blog for freelancers.
- Craigslist is a site where you can post your services for free.
- Elance and Guru are two of the leading sites for online work where businesses connect with freelance professionals to get work done.
Finally, connect locally with individuals, groups, non-profit organizations, businesses, and educational providers in your market who might be interested in your freelance services.
Freelancing is what the “American Dream” is all about. Low start-up costs, minimal set-up time, and a great deal of independence makes freelancing one of the easiest and quickest things you can do to flow more money to you, right now. Whether you are out of a job, have had to take a cut in salary, or simply need to increase your cash flow, become a freelancer to take control of your money. Stop waiting for someone else to do something about the economy. You take charge and become a freelancer.
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About the Author: Dr. Susan L. Reid is a small business expert and business catalyst for spiritually conscious women starting up businesses. She is the author of “Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success.” To download a free copy of the Turn Your Business Dreams Into Reality Toolkit, which includes a PDF chapter of her book, go to Your Samurai Business.