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When you try to search for the term of freelancing, you will find tons of articles. They will vary from tips to get started to how to optimize your work as a freelancer and maybe even to how to quit. Most of the information will focus on the brighter side and catchy phrases. Only few of them will show you the other side of the coin. This side is full of the hard things about freelancing nobody want to tell you. These are the tough truths you were not supposed to know. Do you have the courage to take a look under the hood?
Your income is a variable
Most of you are probably familiar with terms like variable and constant either from programming or form Mathematics. When you are working from nine to five or you have a regular job–you spend specific amount of time in the office working for your boss–then, your salary is a constant. There is no fluctuation. Sure, you might get some bonuses here and there, but until you are promoted, your income or salary is the same. This makes it very predictable and creates an illusion of security. However, it doesn’t work that way in freelancing.
If you decide to take the leap and try freelancing on your own skin, one of the things you realize is how quickly your income will switch from constant to variable. This curiosity will probably not happen to you in programming or Mathematics. You will no longer have the feeling of security because there is no one handling you the check on a monthly basis. From now, it is your job to make the money come to you and not only that.
Another thing is that your monthly income has no minimum. In the past, your income has two properties. First is date of payment and second the sum. Without being promoted, both of them are constant. In case of freelancing, none of them are constants anymore. They are both variables prone to change quickly and often. In other words, they are not set in stone and you cannot count with them. The good news is that, at least the sum, has no maximum. You can end the month two figures and you can end it with five figures or even more.
Working hard is necessity
Following the previous point, the fluctuations of your income will depend on how hard, and smart, will you work. In the world of freelancing the equation is simple–the amount of work or hours, according to your pricing model, times the time you spend working. The result minus expenses and taxes is your income … In very simple terms. In order to increase your income you can do two things. First, lower your expenses (good start). Second, increase your profit by either working for more hours (not so good), charging more (good) or both.
No matter what option will you choose–working more or charging more–you monthly income will always be dependent on how hard will you work. Sure, another solution is to create a so-called “passive income”. Unfortunately, the truth about it is that you will have to work hard anyway to create the foundation for your passive income. So, like it or not, working hard is something you cannot avoid, at least in the beginning.
You must be disciplined
In the world of freelancing if you want to be successful, you have to be disciplined. There is no other way around. Since now you are your own boss. When you decide to take some project, you have to meet your word and to finish it. Otherwise, your reputation will get hurt. In freelancing, the reputation is a currency and your life depends on it. What’s more, if you don’t have any connections or track of previous work, you are starting on a greenfield.
If you have something behind you to support your words, like referrals, awards and so on your start will be easier. In case you have none of it, you will have to double down, build your reputation first and protect it twice as much. This can be very tough. You are competing with anyone with your skills and internet connection. Location is no longer an advantage. All you have is only your word, which is without reputation, worthless.
“If you want to succeed, you have to develop strong discipline.”
Reading this might be painful, but you need to open your eyes and understand the situation you are in. If you want to succeed, you have to develop strong discipline. When you say you will do something you have to push yourself, sit down and do the work. You can call it discipline, work ethic, grit or however you want, but it is all you have.
Client work can be tough
I heard that in one fairy tale baked potatoes will jump right into your mouth. The only thing you need to do is chew and enjoy it. Well, this does not apply to clients. When you start freelancing your job is not just getting the project done and delivering it to client. In a fact, your job starts much sooner. You will have to find that client first. Otherwise, there is no project to work on. This is something that can discourage many people from freelancing.
“Confidence is everything.”
You will have to sell yourself on social networks, look for opportunities and finally, don’t be afraid to grab take them. Remember that finding a potential client is one thing, but you also need to go the extra mile and get the deal. This will require you to be confident enough with yourself and your skills so you can pitch both of them to the client. If you the confidence in any of those things, you are on halfway to lose it. You can try to “fake it”, but if you are not good in faking it, your body language will betray you. Remember, confidence is everything.
Let’s not forget the last part of client work … Invoicing. You got the deal. You worked your ass off and get the work done exactly as he wanted. Now you also have to make sure you will get paid for all that jazz. Since you were able to get so far, you probably have no problem with asking for money, but I will say it anyway. Don’t be afraid to ask for money, never. Even better, to cover your butt, always ask for getting an up-front payment.
“You are a professional, so act that way.”
The percentage of payment depend on you. Some freelancers will ask for 25 percent while others will ask for 50 percent up-front. No matter what number will you decide for, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Remember that you are a professional, so act that way. Looking nervous or unsure will only damage your position in negotiation and your reputation. Make sure you will sign a solid contract before starting the project. It will make client work much easier.
Freelancing, family and friends
When you switch to freelancing, two things can happen. Your family and friends will either support you or forget they even knew who you are. Painful, but truth. In case you are coming from business background, your family will probably support you in your decision of starting with freelancing. Your friends as well. On the other hand, if your family and friends are more familiar with 9-to-5 ethos, you will go through couple hard moments. Trust me in this, I experienced it on my own skin.
In the beginning, your family and friends will show at least some support, mostly because they will hope you change your mind. However, the longer you will stay in the freelancing mood, the less excitement will they show. At some point, they will try to change your mind. More and more will you hear about getting a “real” job, getting a nice position in a big company, being paid steady salary and so on. You should not fight with them or be angry at them. They are used to certain way of living and don’t like change.
“Real friends will stay with you, no matter the situation.”
When it comes to friends, some of them will leave you, if not all. It’s hard, but don’t feel bad for it and let them go. Remember that real friends will stay with you, no matter the situation. Look at it from another perspective. You are not the only one who decided for freelancing. There is abundance of like-minded people. So, forget about those who left you and start forging new relationships with people who know what you are going through.
With the rise of Internet, you are no longer dependent on location. You go online and find hundreds of communities to join and other places to look for support.
You have to learn constantly
Did you hear that learning ends when you leave the school? Well, you had better forget that bullshit and start looking for some books (non-fiction and industry related preferably). Otherwise, you are doomed. In the world of freelancing only the most adaptable will survive. To increase your chances, you have to keep learning. In order to thrive and dominate in your industry, you need to strive for knowledge every day. You have to continually expand your skill set and not let it rust. Remember, always stay hungry for knowledge.
Nobody said freelancing is easy, it’s more the opposite. In some cases, freelancing can look more like an arena where you have to fight every day just to win your right to return tomorrow and fight again. It is unpredictable and sometimes chaotic, but this is also what makes it so appealing and amazing. What’s more, it is just one step from expanding from one person show to bigger business. Will you take the blue or the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes?
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