Being a freelancer isn't easy nor is the freelancer lifestyle right for everyone. There are several factors to consider that employees don't have to wrestle with - or at least in the same way. But on the other hand, there are many rewards and benefits that most employees won't get either. This is where each individual needs to honestly access their own strengths and weaknesses to see if they can be a freelancer.
If you want to be a freelancer, then may I suggest you start with this very key ingredient: Love. Love what you do!
It was during my years as a full-time minister that the door to video production was opened to me. Acting and making movies was something I'd wanted to do since I was a kid, but we all know how life happens while we're making other plans. I had no equipment and the same amount of experience, but I had tons of zeal to learn video so I could eventually make movies. I took advantage of (nearly) free courses through the public access TV station and learned about Mini-DV cameras, video editing, lighting, etc., Later, I was blessed with all the basic equipment needed to get set up to produce videos. My lovely wife even helped me turn an upstairs bedroom into a studio.
God blessed my direction from the beginning. Very quickly I was making special occasion videos, company presentations and even TV commercials. As internet speeds increased, so did the demand for online video. Video editing programs became easier to use and competition between brands kept prices relatively low for us editors. Video production evolved through wave after wave of change. Keeping up with those changes required ongoing learning and frequent equipment upgrades - many of those upgrades were not cheap and very inconvenient! But what kept me growing, learning, experimenting, investing and reinvesting can be summed up in this simple phrase: I love what I do.
Loving what you do will keep you on track as a freelancer. I can't count the number of other side businesses or opportunities I looked at when times were tough and my checkbook balance was near zero. I've considered going back to work for someone else. Then I saw the cubicle or work area...no windows...the dress code...politics...the long, daily commute...and I got sick to my stomach. Then I re-evaluated what I needed to do to get more business. After getting my plan going, and more prayer, business picked back up. This has happened over and over through the years. If I didn't love video production, and feel God's leading, I would have stopped and descended back into the employee rat race.
If you love what you do, then you will:
- Sacrifice to make it happen;
- Be willing to grow, learn, rethink, and market yourself without pay;
- Be willing to give away a lot of your time before you can charge for it;
- Be willing to work weekends and holidays if it means getting new customers;
- Be willing to treat what you do as a business and not a hobby;
- Be willing to adjust with the inevitable changes to stay competitive.
Love what you do. Be willing to become really good, if not great at it. In my opinion, it's the first step to becoming a profitable freelancer.