Working as a self-employed freelancer has many great benefits. For one, you get to set your own hours and rates. You can also choose where to work – be it making use of a coworking space that meets your requirements, working from home, or doing so from the beach in a hammock.
Yet for all its upsides, certain challenges are unique to freelancers. One major obstacle is that freelancers do not get to take advantage of being a part of an existing corporate structure. This means they must pursue all their own training, do all their own research, and seek advice from the internet and other mediums rather than simply asking colleagues or managers.
Anyone beginning to freelance needs to know all that would be required of them in the role before they commit to it full time. Below we’re going to look at two key factors that every freelancer should first consider if they’re to make the most of the many benefits this type of work offers.
Research is crucial no matter what field you’re working in. Whereas those employed in an existing company will often be fast-tracked through training and one-to-one supervision to bring them up to speed on what they need to know, freelancers have to do all of this themselves. And often, they must do so with no prospect of being paid for it, unless they’ve budgeted a salary out of their own funds to accommodate this.
Say, for example, you’re a freelance gaming programmer looking to develop a new slots title. To proceed with this project you would need to research popular slot games and learn the requisite programming skills necessary to build such a title.
It would require you to develop a granular level of insight as to every element of how such a game is structured – from the number of paylines and reels, to the meaning of RTP percentages and how they influence gameplay. This could take some time, as one would need to read and consume information on a wide range of topics before being in a position to even begin programming a rudimentary build.
Suppose, instead, you were planning on becoming a social media manager. In this case, you would need to do a comparable level of research as the aforementioned programmer, but on factors such as how SEO influences organic reach, and which platforms and types of content perform best in different roles. Research in this field would also include networking on platforms such as LinkedIn, as in order to land new clients you would need to first have a good understanding of where to seek them out.
One of the greatest challenges that faces freelancers, especially those just starting out, is budgeting and managing your cash flow. Self-employed workers have to factor in many discrete elements that company employees do not. Many tasks that are crucial to succeeding as a freelancer, such as acquiring the necessary training, and purchasing essential equipment, can be costly.
What’s more, as freelancers only get paid for the work they produce, much of their job essentially goes unpaid. The way around this is to create a personal corporate structure around your job – this can take many forms, but effectively means that you’re doing the work of budgeting for your time and required resources in such a way that you’re insulating yourself from many of the obstacles that new freelancers face.
The fact of the matter is, unless you’re hiring an accountant, which is itself a further cost, the process of accounting, which is normally done for you in a corporate structure, must be done by you instead.
From calculating income tax, to the costs of renting workspace and equipment, to calculating your customer facing rates, new freelancers seldom consider that in reality, being self-employed requires taking on a number of additional roles and skill-sets beyond the confines of their chosen field.