Start Early or Start Now

As I sat at my desk, thinking up arguments to convince any potential freelancer to take a leap already and plunge into the freelance world, it hit me. Gone are the days when freelancing was considered an alternative career option when you couldn’t find a job. Nowadays, freelancing is trendy and lucrative. The freelance landscape is expanding quickly and flexible and remote work styles are gaining popularity due to innovations in social technology.

I’m guessing because of these reasons, it won’t take a lot of words to convince potential freelancers to get started earning independently.

Reasons to Freelance

First things first: if you want to break into freelancing, you need to make sure you do it for the right reasons. Nobody should start freelancing just because it’s what everyone else is doing. You should get in it to make money, monetize your latent skills, or embrace an alternative, nomadic lifestyle. It is best to have strong, intrinsic reasons such as these: wanting a balanced family life, working on your own schedule, to be able to last through trying times as a new freelancer.

With that out of the way, let’s begin. Freelancing can be a great way to supplement your income or it may be your main source of income. However, just as with other life endeavors, you have to build a good name in the field. Building a good reputation will enable you to get to a point where you can start to be selective of clients you work with. Before you begin to build your brand in your field, however, you should consider:

What is your end goal? Are you working towards building a sustainable freelance business that grows to employ other freelancers or are you in it to make up a certain sum of money or attain a certain goal. These two options will call for different longetivity plans.

In one case, it will be about getting jobs quickly, getting them done, getting paid and repeating the process until you reach your goal, and in the other case, it will be about building relationships, securing longterm clients, and planning out a future based on your new lifestyle.

If you want your entire career to be built on freelancing, you’d go about it completely different from someone else with a goal and timeline in mind. And whatever path your future calls for, you need to start now or start early.

Starting now or starting early

When we say start now or start early, we mean that if you’re already a professional with some experience behind you, this is the perfect time to start: You have professional experience that sets you ahead of the pack and you also do not have a lot of time ahead of you to begin to build a personal brand in your space if you haven’t already.

If you are still in the university or recently graduated, this is the perfect time to start: practising real-world skills, racking up work experience, and honing your skills. The earlier you start, the more time you have to learn, grow, make mistakes, meet people and conquer your industry in ways we may not be able to imagine yet due to technology’s quick evolving rate.

How to Get Started Freelancing

Join a freelance community.

This is the easiest way of getting into freelancing and testing the waters. It is important to find a group of people who are interested in making a similar move. A freelance commnity is a place to hang out online and meet like-minded people to collaborate with, break down big projects, get answers to common problems, and learn new skills and tech. These people become your friends who challenge you to keep growing, learning and earning. It is a safe place to share your freelance experiences with people who understand.

We, of course, recommend is the Week of Saturdays community. Together, we answer questions, divvy up freelance projects and solve problems we commonly face as African freelancers. We push each other to learn and improve our skills to attract better options and opportunities.

What you can’t achieve in isolation, a freelance community will help you achieve.

What Skills to Start With

It is important to start with the skills that come easiest to you. Especially, if you fall in the Start Early bucket. You have time at your disposal and can explore and exploit: a skills discovery method that encourages you to explore all your interests and skills for specific periods of time. Through this, you discover the ones you enjoy doing the most, can do very well and are profitable. These are the skills you’ll focus on and exploit to build your freelance business on.

If you fall in the Start Now section, you are likely to know your strengths already from your professional and personal experiences. You should juxtapose this against figures and wage statistics showing which skills are most profitable in the gig economy currently.

If you are wondering about your ability to manage your career independently, take our freelance-ability quiz to test your potential.

Jumping into freelancing or independent consulting can be the best thing you can do for yourself. With your full-time job, it brings in extra income, builds your industry credibility and attracts new opportunities.

Without a full-time job, it holds you down financially, teaches you to manage yourself, build your mental fortitude through solo entrepreneurship, and eventually build your own agency.

Join our community and start your journey! Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments!

About the author
Week of Saturdays answers questions and disseminates new ways of working as technology overtakes culture and 9-5 jobs become a trend of the past. We advocate for flexible working schedules, freelancing, remote working and bold transitions between careers.

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