How to: Freelancing

So, You Think You Can Freelance?

Freelancing is becoming more commonplace in the American workforce. It is estimated that one in three Americans are freelancing and the numbers are rapidly growing, according to a study by Freelancers Union. It is hard to argue with a flexible schedule or the opportunity to explore various career options. Still, it takes work to get work, but if you play it right, you can beat the nine to five blues.

Here are five helpful tips for navigating the freelancing lifestyle:

1. Evaluate your skill set. Or better yet, reevaluate your skill set. Having a degree or training in a certain field does not equal being boxed in. It can feel like a skill set is too specialized, but all it takes is a shift in perspective to unlock other job opportunities. Figure out where your skills can translate into other fields.

2. Stay inspired. Try not to worry about what is trendy and figure out what arouses your interest. Use the time in between jobs to cultivate areas of interest, which then can lead you to different networks and in turn more opportunities.

3. Use your network. Make a list of your contacts and start sending them emails. Grab coffee with people who are doing jobs that you would be interested in and ask them about their experience. Networking can be just as much of looking for opportunities as it can be about just hearing about what other people do and how they got to where they are now.

4. Make your presence known. Find out what networking events are happening in your area and get out there! Meet people, expand your network and get comfortable with talking about what you are all about.

Similarly, search for volunteer opportunities that can showcase your abilities. It’s also a great way to practice new skills and show prospective employers your work ethic.

5. Perseverance. Treat every day that you are not working as a step to finding work. Landing a gig becomes your 9 - 5, so don’t slack off at home! Get out to a coffee shop or library and search for opportunities so that the temptation of sitting at home watching Netflix doesn’t take over.

When you have done all you can and you feel like things are slow, it’s okay to take a step back and give yourself a break. Especially as a freelancer, you may feel like you have to fill in every bit of spare time with work, but remember that it is important to take a day off every once in a while, just don’t make it a habit!

Freelancing is not for everyone. It can be a great exercise or an alternate route to finding your dream job. Conversely, it can be more difficult than having a regular job, especially with the gray areas of when opportunities come next. With the right attitude (and with time, loads and loads of time) it can be sustaining in financial and creative ways.