With the unemployment rate still fairly high, freelance businesses have exploded. Many people who were laid off in the recession are now using their knowledge to start freelance businesses.
Freelancing has also become popular among stay-at-home parents, who are now able to supplement their family’s income on their own terms.
There’s no doubt about it: having a freelance business can be great. You get to pick your own hours, choose what type of work you do, and be your own boss.
I’ve been freelancing for around a year now, and I’m constantly examining my progress to see how I can improve.
In my year of freelancing, here are the three biggest things I’ve learned:
1. Finding clients takes time
You’re probably thinking this is obvious. And you’re right: it is. But, until they give it a try, I think most people underestimate how much of a challenge it is to find clients.
It’s nice to think that if you find a couple of clients and do a great job, your inbox will be flooded with people wanting to work with you — but that’s rarely how it works.
After speaking with several other freelancers, the consensus seems to be that clients finding them is a rare occurrence (although it does happen on occasion). You have to be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone and market your services.
2. You get out what you put in
When I first decided to give freelancing a try, I was still working two day jobs. At this point, my freelance work was very minimal, and I’d squeeze it in every night after my kids were in bed.
The work gradually started picking up, so I went down to one day job. Then it picked up even more, and I decided I’d try freelancing full time. Then something happened: I started slacking.
When I had the day jobs, I desperately wanted to freelance full time, so I was constantly marketing myself. By the time I was ready to go full time, I was on the verge of burnout. I took it easy for a couple months and, because of that, my income remained stagnant.
Over the past month, I’ve started to pick up the pace again, and I’ve already seen a nice increase in the amount of work I’ve gotten.
Freelancing can be super competitive — but if you’re willing to put yourself out there and work hard, then you’ll see growth. If you sit back and wait for people to come to you, your business will decline or remain stagnant.
3. Work comes in spurts
For many people, the biggest drawback of freelancing full time is the instability of pay. Of course, the more established you are, the more stable your pay will be, but even extremely successful freelancers face setbacks.
There are weeks when I doubt myself due to very little work coming in. And then there are weeks I’ll be so busy that I can barely keep my head on straight.
In the end, I’ve made at least enough money to cover my bills each month — but there have definitely been days, and even weeks, when the instability of freelancing has given me a scare.
What are you waiting for?
I’ve fully enjoyed trying to build my own freelance business over the last year. Despite some of the setbacks I’ve faced, I’ve managed to make it work each and every month.
If starting a freelance business is one of your goals, I encourage you to get started today. Keep your day job and start freelancing on the side. As your business grows, your eyes will open to a new world of possibilities.
Do you want to start freelancing? What are YOU waiting for?