A significant number of communications pros become freelancers because they want to be their own boss. Others fall into it out of a need to work while they’re looking for a full-time job. Some freelancers will create highly lucrative businesses. Many will return to full-time employment. And a small percentage will dabble as part-time freelancers while they pursue other interests. Almost all of them will be able to pick up assignments.
If you want to be a successful full-time freelancer, you must go into it for the right reasons. Before we talk about the right reasons, here are the wrong ones.
5 Signs Freelancing Might Not Be For You
1. You don't like your boss
At some point, everybody has a manager they don’t particularly like. If that’s your situation, know that reporting structures can change overnight. Before you make any sudden moves, weigh the pros and cons of the job and company.
2. You don't like your company
Maybe your employer has taken an unethical turn, or has grown too big too quickly, or they’ve stalled. For whatever reason, you’re no longer a match. Before you quit your job to join the gig economy, consider if you might be better suited to another company.
3. You don't like your job
If you don’t like communications now, you won’t like it more when you’re doing it as a full-time freelancer working 40 plus hours a week. Not to mention that your lack of enthusiasm will shine through when looking for new business.
4. You don't want to work more than 40 hours a week
If you plan to run a full-time communications consulting business, be prepared to put in more than 40 hours a week. In the first few years, expect to work between 45-60 hours per week. Up to 20 percent of that time will be non-billable because it’s spent growing the business.
5. You want to travel
If you have the means and the time to travel, do it. But be aware that you won’t be freelancing full-time. Granted, being a communications freelancer offers flexibility, and technology allows you to work anywhere, but working full time while traveling is not that simple.
Real world stories from other freelancers working while traveling include being disconnected and reconnected five times during a 30-minute conference call due to a spotty phone connection in Jamaica; managing an unexpected acquisition from Moab without cell service; and juggling East Coast clients while acclimating to Hawaii’s six-hour time difference. These situations all resulted in having to work longer days with less sightseeing. That’s not to say you can’t travel and be a freelancer. It just means you need to carefully plan your time, have back-up tech connections and potentially other freelancers to support your clients, and not expect to be fully billable while you’re on vacation.
7 Signs You'll Be Successful at Freelancing
1. You're passionate about what you do
You love marketing, PR and communications and it’s clear in the way you approach work and get results.
2 You have enough contacts to generate business
You’re fairly confident your network will help you find new business leads and introduce you to new contacts that will result in paying clients.
3. You have proven experience in your field and industry
You have a portfolio of work, measurable and demonstrable results, and case studies you can share with potential clients.
4. You provide solid and strategic counsel and can execute programs flawlessly
You’re comfortable providing counsel to senior executives and know that you’re guiding them down the right path. You’re also comfortable rolling up your sleeves and willing to do what it takes to achieve results.
5. You're not afraid to put yourself out there and take a risk
It’s normal to feel a bit nervous about going out on your own. It’s also normal to feel a little trepidation about going after new business. If you’re willing to take the risk and a measured approach to finding clients, you’ll be on your way to building a successful consulting business.
6. The timing is right
There are certain times throughout your career where it makes more sense to pursue freelancing. Perhaps this is one of those times. Only you know when the right time is to explore this path.
7. You billing rate in on par with other freelancers with similar experience
You know the average billing rates of freelancers offering similar services with the same level of experience. You also know you won’t undersell your services. There are lots of great clients out there willing to pay you what your worth. Now go find them.
Being a communications freelancer can be a highly rewarding career path if you go into it with your eyes wide open. Taking those first steps can be scary. And there’s where ProsInComms can you help.