Are you looking to take control of your work life, explore a new career path, or pursue a passion project on the side? Freelancing might be your answer.
In fact, you’re in good company. According to a survey by MBO Partners, around 41.1 million Americans considered themselves freelancers, whether it was a few hours a month or a full-time commitment. To put it into perspective, nearly 15 million individuals were part-time freelancers, while 12.4 million went all-in as full-time freelancers.
With such a vast freelance community, it’s crucial to prepare yourself for this exciting career path. This guide offers insights into the world of freelancing, what it entails, how to discover freelance opportunities, and the qualities required to thrive as a freelancer.
What is Freelancing?
At its core, freelancing involves working for yourself rather than being tied to a traditional employer. Freelancers often take on contract work for various companies and organizations but ultimately operate as self-employed professionals.
Freelancers handle numerous responsibilities that traditional employees typically do not, including setting their own work hours, tracking time spent on different projects, billing clients, and managing their own employment and business taxes. Instead of being categorized as “employees,” freelancers are usually considered “contractors.”
Who is a Freelancer?
The term “freelancer” is quite broad. A freelancer is someone who is self-employed and often works for multiple clients concurrently, earning income on a per-project basis. When searching for freelance jobs, you may come across different terms that can help you find opportunities and describe your work to potential clients.
Types of Freelance Jobs:
- Contract Work: These are temporary positions where you work as a contractor rather than a permanent employee.
- Contract Job: Essentially the same as contract work.
- Independent Contractor: Another term for a freelancer, but your work terms are outlined in a contract with another company or individual.
- 1099: This refers to the IRS form that independent contractors fill out, known as form 1099-MISC, and is often used to describe the job itself (e.g., “This is a 1099 contract role”).
- Contract Consultant: Individuals hired for temporary consultations to address specific issues within a company.
- Contract-to-Hire: Initially a freelance, independent contractor position, with the potential to become a regular employee if all goes well.
How to Find Freelance Work?
When seeking freelance opportunities, focusing on companies known to hire freelancers is an excellent starting point. Here are some employers with a track record of posting freelance openings:
- Accounting Principals
- Robert Half International
- Stride, Inc.
- Solomon Page
- Dahl Consulting
- Cactus Communications
Most Common Freelance Career Fields
Freelance jobs come in various forms, spanning from small, short-term projects to long-term, full-time commitments. The following career fields frequently hire freelancers:
- Accounting & Finance
- Customer Service
- Computer & IT
- Medical & Health
- HR & Recruiting
- Education & Training
Pros and Cons of Freelancing
Every job has its ups and downs, and freelancing is no exception. Being aware of the challenges can help you prepare effectively.
Pros of Freelancing:
Freelancers enjoy control over their workload, client selection, and income. This autonomy allows you to decide which jobs to take, which clients to work with, and your pay rate. Depending on your expertise, you can work part-time hours while making a full-time income.
Flexibility and remote work are also perks. Most freelance projects allow you to work from your home office during the hours that suit you. While deadlines are inevitable, you have the freedom to choose when and where you work.
Cons of Freelancing:
With great control comes added responsibilities. As a freelancer, you’re essentially a business owner, responsible for managing taxes, invoices, health insurance, and purchasing necessary software and technology.
The “feast or famine” syndrome is another downside. Workloads can vary significantly, with months of heavy work followed by slower periods. You might rely on a steady contract with one client, only to find they no longer need your services. Freelancing requires sound money management and a continuous effort to find new clients.
Traits and Characteristics Needed as a Freelancer
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, certain qualities are essential for freelance success:
- Discipline: Freelancers need self-discipline to stay on track without a watchful boss or judgmental colleagues.
- Persistence: Particularly crucial when starting your freelance career and searching for work.
- Resilience: Rejection is common in the freelance world. You’ll need to develop a thick skin and bounce back from setbacks.
- Organization: Freelancers juggle multiple tasks. Staying on top of income, expenses, client communication, deadlines, and workload is vital.
- Proactivity: You don’t have to be extroverted, but being proactive in networking and approaching potential clients is essential for growing your business.
- Communication: Freelancers must excel in communication, as they often handle challenging conversations like rate negotiations or ending client relationships.
Ready to Become a Freelancer?
Finding freelance work doesn’t have to be a complex process. Numerous companies across various industries hire freelancers. They offer diverse opportunities, from freelance gigs to full-time and part-time roles across many categories.