What Are You Willing to Invest?
If you have the skill to do freelancing work, the next question is: do you have the will? By this I mean, do you have the motivation, strength of character, and long-term orientation necessary to be a successful freelancer?
You won’t like hearing this, but as always, I’m going to give it to you straight: if you want serious results from your freelancing career, you must expect to make a serious investment of time, money and energy. Freelancing is like most endeavors in that respect—the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. If you aren’t willing to work hard, especially when you begin, you are likely dooming yourself to failure in this endeavor.
Many individuals jump into freelancing with an unrealistic view about what they will need to do to get started on their new careers. For example, some think that they are uniquely qualified and so will be able to get lots of work immediately, forgetting that there are other qualified freelancers, some of whom have been doing this for years. (I refer to this as the “ta-da!” myth.) Others view freelancing as a sideline they can just pick up on a moment’s notice when they need money, some waiting until they are completely broke and desperate before they give it a try. But even though you can certainly freelance part time, it is not something you can easily rely on as a last ditch effort to let you pay the bills.
You can avoid these disappointments by going into this with reasonable expectations, and also with the knowledge that you’re going to have to make an investment at first. Again, these fall into the three main areas I mentioned above:
Don’t make the mistake of being “penny wise, pound foolish” when you start your freelancing career. For example, the “free” memberships offered by some sites are often a waste of time if you really want to get anywhere. Sure, they can help you learn how the sites work, and may not be a bad idea for testing the waters. But if you want to do this seriously, you’ll quickly find that they have so many restrictions that your chances of actually getting a decent amount of work are close to zero. I frequently see new providers who try to work off these plans, get nowhere, grow frustrated and then quit freelancing entirely—wasting their potential for success just because they tried to save a few bucks in a misguided way.
The same goes for work materials, tools and training. When I started out doing my freelancing work, my wife was distraught that I was spending hundreds of dollars on software of various kinds. But by buying these programs, I gave myself the capability to bid on a much wider range of projects. In some cases, the software paid for itself with the very first project I used it for.
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011
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