Ten Questions Every Freelancer Needs to Answer
Every freelancer has a beginning. There is an event that occurs and sets the freelancer apart from the rest of the workforce. After a couple of contracts you were excited to be a full-time freelancer, but things might not be looking so great right now. If you are unhappy, frustrated, or are thinking about finding a job instead of freelancing, then answer these next ten questions.
goLance is here to help you become more successful as a freelancer. Even on days when you don't think you'll make it as a freelancer, we're here for you.
1. Why Did You Start?
Why did you start? Every freelancer has a reason "why" whether its to spend more time with family, less time commuting, earning more income, or to completely change careers. Some freelancers only know the life of freedom, and have never worked a traditional full-time job.
What event occurred in your life that led you away from a traditional job, a labor intensive job, or a career that didn't excite you? Reaffirming your reason "why" will help you to resolve a lot of other issues you may be facing.
2. What Were Your Goals?
Whenever people start a new career, they get excited (or should) and start thinking about ways to move up the corporate ladder, how to get bigger bonuses, faster raises, receive more training, etc. The excitement is there. If you have ever worked in a sales position, the new team members with the most enthusiasm normally succeed the fastest. Sometimes the enthusiasm fades as things do not go according to plan.
The same applies in freelancing. What did you originally want to accomplish as a freelancer? Did you have a plan that you strayed from? Did something go differently than expected? What about your goals?
If you look back to your goals when you first started, do you see that you've accomplished them? Have your goals changed? Are you actively pursuing any now? Having goals can be a driving force that motivates you towards a successful freelance career. It is easy to become distracted by daily tasks, taking your mind off of your future.
If you started freelancing part-time, and wanted to become a full-time freelancer, have you made the "jump?" Everyone gets sidetracked from time to time, now is the time to return to your goals and follow your freelance career.
3. How Do You Compare to the Industry?
It's not a big surprise that the freelance industry is changing at a rapid pace. Keeping current with the industry is only going to aid you in your endeavors. As a freelancer, you need to continually sharpen your skills and improve your knowledge. Think of it as investing in your business. In the end, it's going to be just you that controls everything.
Don't pass up an opportunity to utilize your skills or learn new ones. The best freelancers in the industry will continue to take on small projects, because 1) its still work and 2) it keeps them current with the industry.
4. What Was Unexpected?
Coming into freelancing can be scary. There are a lot of unknowns. You might have been used to working at a job for X hours per week, for X dollars per hour. If so, it was possible to precisely calculate how much money you would earn after 5, 10, or even 15 years, if everything went according to the plan.
As a freelancer, there are a lot of variables. Some weeks you'll be working 40, 50, even 60 hours per week. Others, might be closer to 15 or 20 hours, and sometimes, you might not have any contracts to work. This is the nature of freelancing, as well as one of the biggest perks and pitfalls. A lot of unexpected occurrences can be predicted, avoided, or prevented.
Take charge of your freelance career and assess the elements which you can control and improve, and those that you cannot. The worst thing a freelancer can do is sit idle until the next client proposes a contract. Be proactive and continue to adapt to your situation. There are a lot of resources in our blog that can help you to continue freelancing.
5. Are You an Individual or a Business?
If you worked at a job where the business began to suffer, would you find another job, or help your company succeed? If finding more customers ensured paychecks would continue, most might consider staying. The same applies to freelancing. If you think as an individual and consider finding a job as your only contract nears completion, then your freelancing is doomed.
You might be an individual, but the service that you provide is that of a business. If business is "slow" or "rough" then you are ultimately responsible for turning things around for yourself.
Continually work on your digital reputation and personal brand. These are two vital elements that successful freelancers spend years developing.
When you approach your freelancing as a business, you will soon realize that businesses fail if they don't have any clients. You'll also realize that businesses network, find new clients, and always exceed clients' expectations. Once a business builds a reputation, the clients will begin to show up. The same goes for freelancing. If you are a freelance web designer and are struggling, treat yourself as a business. The more work you put in towards clients, the more clients will recommend you to their peers and partners. Eventually, clients will approach you with their contracts.
Remember that businesses are not built overnight, and that word of mouth has a large impact on the customer base.
6. How Can You Add More Value?
Adding more value to a client will only improve your situation. Don't give away your services, but instead exceed your clients' expectations.
A lot of new freelancers begin their career with the employee mindset. Many feel it's just another way to make money, or its a way to "work from home." This mindset is limiting, because the top freelancers in the world aren't employees, they are entrepreneurs. Freelancing is more than having the control of time and income, it is also the control of your career. Unlike employees, freelancers can choose the projects they wish to work on, and increase their income through the value in which they offer.
Have you ever felt that you really deserved a raise, asked for it, but didn't receive it? In freelancing, if you increase your skills and the value which you provide, you'll be worth more to clients, and can charge more for your services.
Provide more value first, and the returns will astound you.
7. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
A lot of career advisors will ask where you see yourself in the next 5, 10, or even 20 years. Some of use have heard this question during a job interview or even while dating someone.
The importance of this question is that it gauges the outlook on your own future. If you made the same income this year as you did last year, would you be happy? If you just went three years without a vacation, would adding a fourth year upset you?
Five years might seem like a lot of time, but in reality, it will fly by. If you are uncertain of where you will be in five years, you should consider your career and any necessary changes that will help you to achieve your goals.
It is imperative to keep track of yourself as a freelancer. You are your own boss, and you are running a business. Have you ever seen a company experience exponential growth, only to file for bankruptcy shortly thereafter? The business didn't have a plan.
8. What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?
In any career field, it is very common for people to boast about their strengths, but few will highlight their weaknesses. Successful people understand that they too, have weaknesses. If you don't know what your weaknesses are, you should find out immediately. Catering to your weaknesses might be causing you to lose out on contracts, income, or from accomplishing your goals.
You should understand your weaknesses, but do not obsess over them. If you are not the greatest programmer, but are a talented graphic designer, don't pressure yourself to become the greatest programmer. It's OK to learn, expand your mind, and to improve on your weaknesses, but don't allow them to become roadblocks. You do not need to be an expert in everything, so consider how to approach your weaknesses.
If you truly don't know your weaknesses, you need to audit yourself. Ask previous clients about their experiences with you and take constructive criticism.
Other weaknesses can include reluctance towards certain tasks or working outside of your comfort zone. These must be addressed and improved upon if you wish to improve your situation.
9. What Are Your Favorite Benefits to Freelancing?
If you're thinking about taking a step back from freelancing, you need to consider every benefit that this career offers you. There will be a need to achieve a balance, and it won't be overnight, but the benefits in freelancing far outweigh typical employee positions.
Freelancing is great because we are able to control a lot of the aspects that in a job we couldn't. Pay raises, vacations, sick days, and holidays are all at the discretion of corporate policy or management. As a freelancer, you can stop typing mid-sentence, in the middle of programming code, or airbrushing an image on Photoshop. You may return anytime you desire and pick up where you left off.
Think about the amount of control an employee has during their day, then think about the control that you, as a freelancer have. You wouldn't go to the office in pajamas, would you? How about restricting your haircut?
This is the freedom that we have, it is our greatest benefit.
10. What Does Being a Freelancer Mean to You?
There is a lot to be said for how you define the meaning of your occupation. Millions of workers clock in at a job that's 30 minutes away from home, produce an average amount of work, and then clock out to go home. During weekends, jobs are forgotten, and personal lives reign supreme.
As a freelancer, there is a different meaning in our work. What does being a freelancer mean to you? What is the worth of not having to go to the same job every day for decades?
Employees normally compromise with working at a job that barely pays their bills, for a employer that pays just enough so the employees don't quit. There isn't a lot of meaning in these jobs, it's a mutual agreement concerning the need for an employee and the need to earn a living.
The answer to this question is something only you can provide. Millions of people have found purpose in their work, in their lives, and in everything that they do.
Without knowing the meaning of your work or your purpose, how can you continue forward?
Dig deep and answer this question for yourself. You wanted to become a freelancer, you wanted to enjoy the freedoms of working remotely, being able to travel, never having another day at the office and so on. Do you still want these things?
Being a freelancer can be difficult at times, sometimes to the point of wanting to "quit" and finding a full-time job. At goLance, we believe that you must do what you need to do, to take care of yourself and your obligations. We also believe that freelancing is worth it. There is no other job on the planet that compares to freelancing, and for that, we're cut from a different cloth. These ten questions were intended to bring you back on track, to keep you focused on your goals, and most of all to keep you freelancing no matter where you are in your career.
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