Can You Actually Survive As a Freelancer?

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Today, everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon of freelancing. However, not all that glitter is gold. Throughout this article, I’ll provide you with enough evidence to judge for yourself if it’s a feasible task or not.

You can survive as a freelancer just like you can with any other job. You might barely make enough to pay the bills, or you could make a substantial amount of money. You also might decide to use it as a “side hustle.” 

To correctly answer this, it’s necessary to have a look at some concepts. I will be explaining these essential concepts in detail in the following paragraphs.

Can You Make Good Money as a Freelancer?

The same question may apply to any profession or job. And the answer, inevitably, will be the same: it does depend on multiple factors.

You can make good money as a freelancer. According to the German bank N26, a freelancer can make on average $32 an hour. Some skills are paid higher than others. A videographer, for instance, makes an average of $45 an hour, while a marketing professional makes $23. 

Then again, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s one thing to say that you make a certain amount per hour, but how many hours a week, month, or year you actually get to work is another thing.

Being extraordinarily skilled at your craft, the more unique your niche, and the better your reputation, the more you can charge. 

According to the site Statista, the average hourly wage in the U.S. from August 2020 to August 2021 was US$ 11.26, roughly one-third of what a freelancer makes on average per hour. I could say that indeed, it is possible to make good money as a freelancer.

can you make good money as a freelancer

But in the end, making good money from freelancing also depends on how good you are at marketing yourself. You have to develop a broad client network and learn how to handle your finances optimally.

Pros of Being a Freelancer

Freelancing can be one of the best things in the world for you to do, as you can create your schedule, charge what you want, and take time off when you need to. 

 Let’s look at the pros of freelancing. 

You Design Your Work Schedule

As a freelancer, you choose how many hours a day you work. 

You may even decide to create specific “blocks” to work for a few hours on one project, then move on to a different one. Some people work better late at night and prefer to use their daytime hours to run errands, exercise, or even attend school.

Also, you have the chance to take a day off in the middle of the week if you need it or to schedule a doctors’ appointment at your most convenient time. 

If you choose to work from a coffee shop, you may adapt your working hours as well.

You Have Great Sense of Pride in Your Work

You can take credit for everything since you did everything yourself. 

So, when recognition time comes, the glory is all yours. Things like getting that huge account you’ve been hunting for months or tripling your monthly income all happened because of your consistent hard work and dedication.

On the other hand, this might work the other way around, too, as you will be held accountable for every accomplishment and every mishap.

You Can Get Very Creative and Move Between Jobs

Let’s say that one of your passions is cooking, and you’re skilled enough to make money from it. You might land a career as a freelance chef during the winter months, cooking privately at a chalet for families on vacation, while the rest of the year, you can write for several blogs. The transition to working for yourself can open many doors.

This is the kind of freedom that freelancing provides.

You Get To Know and Work With a Wide Variety of Clients

When freelancing, you get to deal with clients from all walks of life, including book editors, musicians, website creators, graphic designers, photographers, and real estate agencies. 

The result is that you will tremendously expand your acquaintance’s network, which is highly beneficial to thrive in any business. 

On the flip side, when you work a full-time job as an employee, you’re most likely working the same type of job with the same type of customers, and you don’t get to meet new people all the time.

People Think of You as an Expert in Your Area

The company might hire a full-time worker, or they could choose to hire a freelancer. They do so because the person they’re bringing into the team is considered highly skilled for the job. In other words, you are perceived as highly knowledgeable in your industry.

Cons of Being a Freelancer

Not everything is always rosy and happy in the freelancing world. For one, you’re always trying to figure out where the next gig will come from, making it difficult to pay your bills. Another thing that makes freelancing difficult is that you don’t have insurance or other benefits.

Let’s talk more about the cons of freelancing.

There Will Be No “Company Provided” Insurance

When you work for a company, you will most likely get some insurance. Whether it’s dental, health, life, disability, or vision, you will benefit from some coverage. As a freelancer, you will cover and have to pay for these expenses yourself, and it’s rarely a cheap one.

You Can’t Count on Having Your Contract Renewed

You don’t have many certainties as a freelancer, including the assurance that your current client will require your services again once you finish your ongoing project. While a contract-to-hire job offers steady work, it doesn’t always lead to a permanent job either. A brilliant and simple way to prevent this is to treat each project as if it were the last one. 

Save some money, pay the bills you can, and keep on looking for the next project “just in case.”

Some Months Will Be Outstanding and Busy While Others Might Be the Opposite

This is directly linked to the former item. If you’ve failed to develop a large pool of clients, the reality is that you will eventually have bad months when even covering your regular expenses ends up being a struggle.

Use the slow months to acquire new skills to hone those you already have and prospect for new clients.  

Also, it’s crucial to be an excellent planner when it comes to spending money. Design a budget so that whenever a great month comes, save that extra income for the more challenging times instead of blowing the money on a weekend getaway. You’ll be glad you did.

Dealing With Slow-Paying Customers

People who work at a company rarely have to deal with this kind of situation. However, it’s common for freelancers to “chase” clients who don’t pay on time.

They might claim to have issues with their accounting department, internal delays, or simply cash flow problems. To avoid this scenario, you can set your payment terms right from the beginning and stand up for yourself if you see that the agreement is not fulfilled.

The Way You Handle Your Taxes Is a Bit More Complex

When you work a full-time job at a company, it’s easier to see taxes, deductions, retirement account money, and insurance.

All of these are indicated, and you can precisely know how much money you’ll be taking home and how much taxes need to be declared. As freelancers, you’ll typically receive either a check or a deposit into your account without taxes being deducted, so it’s up to you to do these calculations, which could sometimes be tricky or complicated.

The Skills That Will Get You the Best Jobs as a Freelancer

As an upcoming freelancer, it’s crucial to know the skills with the highest demand in the marketplace. 

Here’s a roundup of high-demand skills:

  1. User Testing
  2. Mobile App Development
  3. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) Development
  4. Voice-Over Acting
  5. Website Design
  6. Data Analysis
  7. Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Programming
  8. Online Security and Ethical Hacking
  9. Amazon Web Service (AWS) Development
  10. Accounting and Bookkeeping
  11. Writing
  12. Videography
  13. Illustration
  14. Virtual Assistance
  15. Editing
  16. Video Editing
  17. Graphic Design
  18. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  19. Website Development
  20. Excel Management
  21. Copywriting
  22. Social Media Marketing
  23. Photography
  24. Translation
  25. Survey-Taking
  26. Career Coaching
  27. Independent Sales
  28. Audio Transcription
  29. Delivery Service
  30. Tutoring

If You Want To Have a Rewarding Career as a Freelancer

If you want to have a rewarding career as a freelancer, let’s look at some of the attributes and skills you need to be a freelancer for success.

survive as a freelancer

You Must Be an Excellent Time Manager

Being free from the slavery of a work schedule might look like a blessing. However, such freedom might actually backfire on you if not handled properly. 

There’s no specific time to arrive in the office and no set time to go home. Your lunch break could last 2 hours if you like, or you might not get one. You may spend 30 minutes checking your social media accounts or talking to your girlfriend on the phone. 

Maybe you feel like going for a run in the afternoon instead of sitting on a chair for 4 hours to deliver that 2,500-word article. You could even start catching up on that Netflix new series everyone seems to be talking about.  

Remember: when something sounds just too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

The job of freelancing must be approached with the same stringency as any other job. It’s best if you stick to certain time blocks for specific activities, such as email, phone calls, eating, and of course, actually working. 

Failing to do so, giving in to complacency is a sure recipe for failure.

You Need To Be Good at Networking

When you work in an office or are hired for a full-time job, you rarely worry about running out of work, as it will be steadily handed to you by your boss. 

A different scenario happens when you’re a freelancer. To survive as a freelancer, you must constantly be hunting for your new gig. While there can be a lot of different ways to make money on Upwork as a freelancer, networking may be the best option. And the fastest and easiest way to do this is by having an extensive network of acquaintances.

Make it a point to know new people regularly. Attend seminars, go to events, leverage the use of social networks. Today, thanks to the Internet, it is absolutely inexcusable not to reach out to people outside of your city or your country. 

The boundaries are virtually non-existent.

Self-Discipline

The topic of discipline is often controversial and misunderstood, mainly when that discipline is applied to yourself by yourself. 

The best way to define discipline is: “Doing the things you know are beneficial to you whether you feel like doing them or not.” 

It stands out that any good freelancer must have well-developed self-discipline. This lets you focus on your objectives, put in the necessary hours, avoid needless distractions, and consistently accomplish every task you set for yourself.

Motivation

The journey of the freelancer is a lonely one, at least most of the time. There are no colleagues to cheer you up when you’re feeling down. It’s easy to lose motivation when we do not see the results we want as fast as we wish.

Maybe a client makes you feel like you’re not good enough for the job you’re doing. So, motivation has to come from within. Know how to master the art of being your cheerleader and P.R. agent to push through the hard times.

Professionalism

People perceive you as an expert in your field, and that’s great. But just being exceptional at what you do is not enough. 

Don’t just be a pro; act like one. 

Grasp the concepts of effective communication, adhere to deadlines, keep your promises, show respect to your clients and maintain the highest standards. Once again, you’re on your own here, so try to shine as much as possible every chance you get.

Flexibility

There is nothing static about freelance work. The number of projects, the length of each gig, the hours per day you need to work, cash flow, everything can change week to week, month to month.

While there are a lot of benefits of telecommuting, you still need to also be flexible. Being flexible means not letting any of these discourage or upset you. If the workload suddenly doubles or triples, deal with it and handle it with as much efficiency as possible.

At times the money coming in may not be the same as during the last project, and this should by no means be a reason to lose motivation or tackle the job at hand with less passion or drive. 

Finance Savvy

As the old saying goes: “Making money is not complicated; the hard part is keeping it.” 

As a freelancer, you have an excellent opportunity to generate income. For example, you can write a book as a way to make money as a freelancer. Sometimes it comes in fast and in large quantities, but it’s a major blunder if cash flow is not steady. 

It won’t matter how hefty your client portfolio is, as your business is doomed to fail sooner than later. Cash flow is the blood of any healthy business operation, and freelancing is no exception.

Is Freelancing Highly Competitive?

Not too long ago, freelancers were seen almost like misfit; someone who claimed to have a job but didn’t go to an office or had a formal work schedule. It wasn’t common to find people who could work from home or from wherever they wanted to.

Freelancing is highly competitive, especially as the use of the Internet over the years has become utterly widespread. More people seem to be chasing the dream of “working from home.” Since people are losing their jobs more often lately, more people are looking for the same.

And the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic just rushed things, making freelancing a very competitive territory. Also, plenty of people lost their jobs due to office shutdowns, so they had come up with a way to make a living during quarantine times.

new to freelancing

Thousands of offices had to send their employees home to keep the business afloat. Therefore a vast amount of otherwise “regular” employees were now forced to work remotely. The search for “How to make money online” skyrocketed on Google, and a new army of forced freelancers was born. 

So, what once was an oddity is now a worldwide trend. 

What Is a Freelancer?

Even though the terms are commonly used indistinctly, being a freelancer is not the same as being self-employed.

An accurate definition of a freelancer is someone who works individually and sells their services to a third party that is not necessarily their long-term employer. The difference between self-employed and freelancers is that freelancers typically perform several short-term jobs for many businesses. 

Whereas a self-employed worker is more likely to work on their own business and, because of this, have more autonomy than freelancers, who must abide by the rules of their several employers.

We can say that all freelancers are self-employed, but not all self-employed workers are freelancers.

Ways That Other People Have Been Successful As Freelance Workers 

You can survive as a freelancer without question. Many people who have been successful as freelance workers have reached that particular level of popularity or branding that has allowed them to create their own business. Whether using remote work vs. work from home, they have branded themselves. For example, someone who has a popular YouTube channel can ask for donations, use crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter, or advertise themselves as an expert in the field. This is just one example out of many others.

Some of the most popular YouTube freelancers would be Casey Neistat, T-Series, EnDotTech, TheComputercians, and many more.

Once you have your own brand, you will be able to survive as a freelancer because you can generate income from your followers. You might even become so famous that companies would want to work with you and pay you an enormous amount of money for your services.

living as a freelancer successfully

Let’s say you make funny tutorial videos on YouTube. This means companies or people looking to teach tutorials about their product might contact you because they know that you are good at teaching and can market their product well.

Companies like these do exist if you search around, then you’ll find them very quickly. You an also make money on Fiverr as a way to start out.

Related Questions:

What’s the hardest part of being a freelancer?

The hardest part of freelancing is when you’re in the middle of a project, and the client decides to go in another direction. Since freelancers are not employees, they can’t be laid off or let go in the traditional sense.

When that happens, there’s no fallback position. You have to deal with it head-on and work through it, or you can walk away from it altogether and hope for better luck next time.

What tips do you have for someone who wants to become a freelance writer?

The first step towards being a freelance writer is writing about something you love or find interesting because it will reflect in your writing and make it easy for readers to connect.

Secondly, you need to build a good portfolio and make sure you have the latest version of MS Word installed on your computer.

Thirdly, become familiar with online writing assignment websites and sign up as many as you can find (such as iWriter or Textbroker) because that’s where most of the jobs are now coming from.

Fourthly, learn how to write persuasive copy and develop some original marketing materials like promotional pieces and website banner ads. Only then should you start pitching your services to prospective clients such as small business owners so they’ll hire you on retainer for all their future projects.

What makes freelance work so competitive and desirable?

Freelance work is so competitive because it’s based on supply and demand. People are currently looking for freelancers to complete their projects, but there aren’t many available, and they can rapidly change and fluctuate. This means you need to be fast and flexible enough to take them on when they come along.

Final Thoughts

It takes a particular type of individual with a unique set of skills to survive as a freelancer. In the end, what separates a freelancer from an aspiring one will be their mindset.

If you make the decision to embark on this kind of lifestyle, do so with caution:

  • Don’t take it lightly.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Acquire the appropriate habits.
  • Build and keep a respectable reputation.
  • Use the best tools available.

Doing all these will most likely get you going with the right foot on the freelancing path. And if you stick to it long enough, the results can be gratifying.