Given the slow economy and scarcity of funding, starting a business as a freelancer has become ever so tempting. Forty percent of Americans will be freelancers by 2020 and the United States might soon be a pioneer of the so-called freelance nations.
With 60 million people being freelancers in just six years, this trend is significant and makes becoming a freelancer worth considering for any professional.
Why would you want to hear reasons to become a freelancer right now? First off, you want to stay ahead of the curve. If you started tomorrow, you would have six more years of experience than any freelancer that starts in 2020. I don’t necessarily mean experience in your field, because you can get a lot of valuable experience as an employee as well. Let’s not forget, 40% of the population being freelancers means that almost every second person is an independent contractor, so the competition will be fierce.
Being a freelancer is more than just having a skill, it’s selling a skill.
You will be responsible for selling your skills to your customers, managing your taxation, and building a brand. In order to be a successful freelancer, you will have to know where you are headed, what you stand for, and who or where your target group can be found. It is very similar to being a business owner, except in this case you are running Me Inc., if you will.
Secondly, the more experience you have, the better. Making the switch to freelancing is just like taking on a new job, except you also have to invent the framework. Feeling comfortable with how you present yourself and increasing your conversion rate so you can efficiently balance getting leads and getting paid takes time. More often than not, freelancers start offering a service without a clear personal brand and define their business along the way. That means the sooner you start, the better, because you want to figure out those things as soon as possible and most importantly, before the vast majority of your competitors do.
If you are considering being a freelancer, here are 10 reasons to become one.
You Can Build A Business With Low Startup Cost
It is generally assumed that freelancers are bound to become experts in their field, and that they will monetize the reputation that they built over several years. With virtual teams on the rise, being a freelancer no longer confines you to building a one-man business or naming your website firstnamelastname.com – on the contrary!
Most successful freelancers have a network of fellow freelancers that they leverage for add-ons and up-sells to their existing services. A freelancer network like this is often treated like a company, with traditional hierarchy levels akin to executives, managers, and employees.
The biggest advantage? Freelancer businesses with the concept described above can be sold. In contrast to one-man shows, these businesses have an enormous value when they are for sale, because they have a large client list and extremely low cost, as all “employees” are freelancers themselves. Additionally, the brand isn’t centered around a single person, and can therefore be easily adapted.
Another advantage of such freelance businesses is that the startup cost is extremely low, which reduces entry barriers for an otherwise potentially competitive industry. For instance, setting up an online advertising agency that manages large corporate advertisement accounts takes an enormous amount of effort for marketing, branding, advertising, and training, whereas working as a freelancer is much easier because Fortune 500 companies often post job openings on LinkedIn that agencies could never take advantage of.
Freelancers, on the other hand, are already trained, can combine client lists, and can gather experience by being part of an existing team while agencies traditionally replace in-house teams.
You Can Get Automated Passive Income
Freelancing is a great way to make automated passive income online. Whether it’s blogging, info products, podcasts, or feed-based online magazines – as a freelancer, you can do it all at a minimum cost. Most freelancers add automated passive income streams to their existing services because it allows them to earn more without raising their hourly rate or lose clients due to the higher price.
Concrete examples of generating automated passive income online as a freelancer would be:
- Advertisement before YouTube videos, or on the YouTube channel sidebar
- Google AdSense ads on blogs or websites
- Affiliate programs
- Info products (podcasts, PDFs, video trainings, etc.)
The last point is particularly interesting because experienced freelancers often focus on the strategic part of the task and outsource less intellectual manual work to cheaper freelancers. This enables them to take on a lot more clients and break through the usually limiting hourly based billing cycle. Having a large client list is handy when it comes to getting reviews, because the more clients you have, the more reviews you can get.
(Near) Effortless Personal Brand
If you do decide to work as a freelancer and build a business around your personal brand as a one-man operation, your won’t need to invest nearly as much time into personal branding as other professionals. Even though communicating clearly what you stand for takes up some of your time, building a business as an extension of yourself is one of the easiest ways to build a personal brand.
As Chris Ducker put it: “Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”. By branding yourself as yourself and nothing else, what people talk about is you, which gives freelancers a lot of control when it comes to branding. While your reputation as an employee or part of a large team depends on the performance of others, your reputation as a freelancer depends only on you.
Freelancers Don’t Need A Website Or Logo
Yep. There, I said it. In contrast to popular belief, a website is not something freelancers are expected to have nowadays. Of course, you should buy the dot com domain for your name if it is still available, because you never know what you might need it for, but having a website is no longer necessary to be a successful freelancer. A few platforms that save you time when it comes to showing off your portfolio and skills online are:
Freelancers who work on their own and build a business around their personal brand also don’t need a logo, because the best logo they could possibly have is a photo of themselves. I am not suggesting you use a Facebook profile selfie, but the trend is going towards branding via social media. As a freelancer, you would use a photo as a profile picture anyway so not needing a logo saves you both money and time.
Freelancers Choose Who To Work With
Hate to work with certain people? Then don’t! Freelancers, just like any independent contractor, have the luxury of choosing who they want to work with. While small businesses often have to take on clients that they aren’t too thrilled about to cover costs, freelancers have very few fixed costs, and often high demand once they found the right sales channel.
Choosing who to work with increases your quality of life and makes your work more pleasant overall. More often than not, freelancers that are able to convert leads that match their target group get paid on time, do better at their jobs, and receive better reviews.
Wide Variety Of Projects & Clients
Instead of working with a close knit team and having to deal with the same people over and over again, freelancers have a wide variety of clients as well as diverse projects.
Besides the fact that it helps to keep the job interesting, it can reduce stress. For instance, most freelancers instinctively work in 90 minute intervals and take a short break in between different projects. This corresponds perfectly to the natural rise of the body’s stress hormones, which, if you don’t take a break, are released – you guessed it – every 90 minutes.
Work More, Earn More
Most freelancers bill hourly. The big advantage of billing hourly is a simple general rule: if you work more, you earn more; if you work less, you earn less. There are very few organizational structures where the amount you work is directly correlated to how much you get paid.
A common mistake people make when deciding whether to become a freelancer or not is that they assume there is an income cap for freelancers because the work day has a finite number of hours. There is nothing we can do to make Mondays 36 hour days, but freelancers have two ways to significantly increase their income over time.
First off, successful freelancers continuously increase their hourly rate over time because they get more experienced, grow their portfolio and client list, and can provide more and more testimonials. Secondly, freelancers can outsource tasks just like any other business, and therefore earn automated passive income (see point 2).
Besides the low startup budget, freelancers usually have very low costs. Even though the tools needed to do the job are sometimes provided on-site, freelancers mostly work from home. That saves quite a large sum of money over the years because there is no need to drive to work or commute, rent an office, or pay employees.
Without regular payment obligations, freelancers are not only more flexible but can also go through longer periods of low demand without going bankcrupt.
Control Over Workload And Office Hours
Freelancing is a great choice for almost every personality type and suits ambitious perfectionists as much as anyone who is happy with less. By being able to take on as many projects as desired, freelancers design their own schedule based on their needs.
For instance, you could work extra hours from Mondays through Thursdays and take every Friday off while still earning the same amount as if you worked the same number of hours every day.
Freelancing Is A Lifestyle
Freelancing enables you to build a business around your lifestyle at the lowest possible cost, and there are no limits to how far you want to adapt your work to your lifestyle. For instance, you could be a work-from-home mom who works part-time or during school hours and take a vacation together with your children, or you could be a digital nomad travelling the world.
Whether you want to join existing teams, work on your own, hire other freelancers to support you, spend more time with family and friends, or simply want to be able to live your life the way you want to – being a freelancer rocks.