5 Things You Need to Know Before Freelancing

Before freelancing, you’ll want to know a few things. Freelancing is a legitimate job but unlike traditional office jobs, it doesn’t come with training. Some have a mentor or follow strict advice, and others try it out and see what happens. These¬†5 Things You Need to Know Before Freelancing¬†are going to help you start your business the right way. These tips are good to know whether you’re freelancing as a career or doing it part-time.

1. Freelancing is a business and you need a business permit. 

This is something that’s not really talked about. Freelancing is an actual business. You’ll need a business permit. And you might also need a home occupancy permit depending on where you live. Check with your local city and county to determine exactly what you need. Get the proper documentation before freelancing so you avoid any legal and tax-related issues.

Another useful thing that I did when starting to freelance was taking business classes. Many cities and counties offer free business development courses. Why? Their idea is that fostering small businesses will help the local economy. You can learn some valuable information – for free – by taking these government sponsored courses.

2. Working from home isn’t always ideal.

If you have a noisy neighbor, live on a busy street, or live with roommates, you know that it’s not always ideal to work from home. Don’t worry, you have options. Scope out the local coffee shops and keep a mental list of places you can go to get your work done. I like to find coffee shops that don’t play music too loudly and that are open late.

If you need a more permanent fix, you can look into some of the local co-working spaces. These are more prominent in larger cities and offer you the ability to rent rooms or buy time. Down the line, know that you can rent an office. And if you live in a home or apartment with an extra room, you can convert it into an office and actually charge your business rent! Talk to a tax advisor or do more research to find out more about this.

office photo by Vadim Sherbakov

3. You’ll be paying taxes, so keep records.

Since you’re running a business, you’ll be paying city/county taxes (as applicable), state, and federal taxes. Keep thorough records of business expenses that you’re making. I opt for a simple Google spreadsheet, but use what you feel is most comfortable and extensive. For this portion, you’ll need to do some research in regards to what you can deduct.

Ensure that you have a clear and ethical idea of what you can and cannot record when it comes to your business expenses. For example, you will not be able to write off expenses made prior to obtaining your business license. Starting a new business is exciting and some people can think they need much more than they have, but start conservatively and build from there. You’ll notice that many of the success stories you’ve heard start with a description of that individual’s economic and spacial limitations. Be that story.

4. Don’t be put off by advice about how hard it is.

You’ll see it all over the web. You’ll hear things like “if you’re not organized, don’t even think about freelancing.” Don’t feed into that negativity by believing that you can’t freelance if you have a track record of being disorganized. Sure, there are some who have more discipline than others. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn discipline, or that you can’t start to be organized. Don’t undermine yourself before freelancing if it’s really what you want to do.

Humans have the incredible capacity to learn new skills. And if you want to freelance, it may just be the perfect opportunity for you to pick up some good habits. It’s far better to go for it and try than to remain in your comfort zone. You’re not on this earth to just fit into a mold of descriptors given to you by other people. If you want to be organized, learn. If you want to be disciplined, learn.

office photo by NVSBL Media

5. You don’t need to know everything or be an expert.

Everyone starts somewhere. When you’re freelancing, you’re bound to have to learn a lot in a small amount of time. It’s a perfect chance for you to exponentially expand your skill set. When you look at your competitors, you may notice that they use words like “expert” and “prolific.” Don’t be intimidated by it. Remember that they’re nobody censoring who or what an expert really is.

You don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) say you’re an expert. That is, unless you can really substantiate the claim. There are other ways of selling yourself without being so outright and blatant. Doing solid work and being trustworthy is far more valuable than telling anyone who will listen that you’re the top-dog, even if you are. Trust that your expertise will reflect through your willingness to learn and through your output.