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The freelancer life: understanding your choices

November 14, 2017 by Liz Green

The freelancer life: understanding your choices

Does the thought of working for yourself set your mind sparking with ideas? If so, life as a freelancer rather than an employee could be the best solution for you.

But, before you book your seat in a co-working space or splash out on some new software, there are three fundamental questions you need to consider about your freelance career.

Why?

Despite what you may have heard, life as a freelancer isn’t all about getting up when you feel like it or working poolside with your laptop. That might be where you end up, but in the early days, discipline and routine will be your best friends.

Growing your experience, your reputation and your client base take a lot of time and energy. If you don’t have a clear idea why you want to work as a freelancer and at least one goal to work towards, the challenges you face could overwhelm you.

So, ask yourself why you want to work as a freelancer and write your answers down. Whether you’re having a tough day or an awesome one, you can revisit your motivations for going solo and draw inspiration from them. Over time, your ‘whys’ might change – that’s ok – rewrite your list and keep going.

What?

It might seem like an obvious suggestion, especially when you’ve committed time and resources to your area of study, but not every skill or service is a good fit for a freelancer.

You need to consider what you’re planning to offer, then research who else is already doing it. If no one else is providing your service or skill, you’ll need to investigate further. There might not be a market for what you’re offering. Or, you may have struck gold and discovered a gap in the market to carve out a niche for yourself.

Either way, it’s better to find out as much as possible before you spend a lot of time or money on your idea. You might need a complete rethink, or you may simply need to tweak your original idea.

How?

Many people are attracted to the ‘free’ in freelance but, even as a sole trader, you’ll be classed as a small business. You’ll have obligations like managing your tax; invoicing your clients; collecting payments; and, you may even need insurance.

Thankfully there are plenty of free or low-cost resources to help you navigate the basics of running a small business. YouTube is full of software tutorials. In Perth, the Small Business Development Corporation runs free or low-cost courses for people starting new businesses.

Other places you can find help locally are Startup WA, The Small Business Lounge, Guerrilla Establishment.

 

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