It seems that fifty years ago, the American career aesthetic was to become the big cheese. The notion of serving many years with a company or organization and “rising through the ranks” is deeply engrained within the cultural consciousness of our nation. However – the times…they are a-changing. While countless professionals still aspire to one day reach the “corner office”, others are refocusing their goals into becoming self-employed and, essentially, their own bosses.
Four years ago, Forbes predicted that freelance work will make up more than 50 percent of the entire workforce by the year 2020. If freelancing continues to grow at its current rate, the majority of U.S. workers will be freelancing by 2027 – but does that mean you should hop aboard the “Freelance Train”?
Here is a list of 5 things to consider before you decide to delve into the freelance world:
- Which “benefits” matter most? – If you currently receive medical coverage, paid leave, and retirement savings through your employer, these benefits will likely disappear if you decide to pursue a full-time freelance career. On the other hand, freelancers have many opportunities to use their skills or connections to barter for other needed services. Websites like Upwork connect prospective clients to freelancers who are willing to negotiate costs by exchanging skills or completing projects. Building these types of relationships could be crucial for receiving training in a field of your interest or practical professional needs (like a website or a graphic design services).
- Do you have a business acumen? – Do you consider yourself a jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur? If you don’t think you could manage your own invoicing, marketing, and day-to-day administration (like ordering supplies and scheduling calls/meetings), then freelancing could be discouraging. However, if you’re seeking a challenge professionally and managing all aspects of your growing business excites you, then working freelance (whether part-time or full-time) might be the perfect chance to experiment.
- What is your preferred work schedule and work style? – One of the most commonly cited perks of freelance work is the ability to set your own schedule. If your lifestyle requires more flexibility than the typical 9-5 workday can provide, the freelance field may be worth exploring. Keep in mind that the majority of your clients will likely have a traditional work schedule – which means you may have to be on standby during the evenings and weekends for meetings and calls. Also, what is your preferred working style? This often affects how you are able to prioritize, self-motivate, and stay productive. For example, if you consider yourself creative, but you appreciate the structure of a full-time job to help you stay on task, jumping into freelance work could be a difficult transition.
- What is your current financial state? – For those who are considering part-time, freelance opportunities – the extra boost to the bank account is definitely an advantage. Conversely, switching from a full-time career (with a regular paycheck) to freelancing (where the paychecks are only as consistent as the number of projects you’re managing) is certainly something to consider.
- What is your plan to rebrand yourself? – Working directly with clients could help to establish you as a professional with a reputable track record. In your new role, you’ll rely on positive feedback and referrals from happy clients to generate more business and even secure contracts. This is a great opportunity for those who are freelancing as a strategy to transition into a new career field. Are you prepared for the task of creating a new, professional persona and maintaining your image? For what its worth, even Beyonce successfully rebranded her performance persona as “Sasha Fierce”!
So, you’ve answered these questions — now what do you do? Do you have a friend who is currently freelancing part-time or full-time? Invite them to chat about their experiences over a cup of coffee! Research trends in your field and attend occasional networking events in order to get a feel for your community (including future clients). Whether you’re ready to start planning tomorrow – or in the next nine years – be sure to weigh your freelance options carefully before taking the plunge.