Freelancing has become an increasingly popular career path over the past decade, with many people discovering that they can earn more than working as an employee at someone else’s company. However, being a freelancer comes with its own challenges, and any successful freelancer will tell you that they’ve had to learn some hard lessons along the way. This guide to 7 ways to make a living as a freelancer in 2022 will give you an overview of what skills you need to freelance in this day and age, how you can market yourself and your services, and how to keep your business running smoothly.
1) Start thinking like an entrepreneur.
Before you can truly succeed at freelancing, you’ll need to accept one thing: You are an entrepreneur. Yes, even if you’re working for someone else and providing consulting services, you are running your own business—as is everyone else out there. So here are seven ways to make sure that your freelance business stays alive and kicking well into next year (and beyond). 1. Know what you want to do before you do it In order to be successful as a freelancer, you’ll need to have some idea of what it is that makes you happy doing work. And while we could debate all day about whether or not money matters more than anything else, it certainly doesn’t hurt if you like what it is that makes money. 2. Network! It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t actually know anyone when they first get started freelancing. Which means they also don’t know anyone who can help them find their first gig. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap; start networking now with other freelance professionals and get involved with local organizations related to your industry. 3. Get clear on your brand If you want to build a freelance career that lasts, you’ll need to develop and maintain a strong personal brand. This isn’t just about having a catchy name or tagline; it has everything to do with making sure clients understand exactly what they’re getting from you every time they hire you. 4. Get organized Being disorganized will destroy any freelance career faster than just about anything else.
2) Set up your business structure right.
Establishing your business structure is one of those ways of freelancing that you’ll need to do regardless of what type of freelancing you want to pursue. Just about every type of independent work requires at least some degree of setup and organization, so it’s worth it for anyone looking for a new freelance gig. Establishing your business structure also means that you’re getting yourself set up with licenses, bonds, contracts and anything else you need from a legal standpoint. This can be an easy way of freelancing to overlook—but don’t make that mistake! Before you begin working on projects, be sure to establish your business structure.
3) Take advantage of technology.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend getting set up with technology that will assist you with your freelance business. There are many great tools out there that have helped me run my freelance business, but here are a few of my favorites: free website hosting (that will also allow you to have email addresses for your company), time tracking software, invoicing software, communication and collaboration platforms like Slack and Asana. Also, don’t forget about video conferencing! The more you can take advantage of modern technologies to make running your freelance business easier, the better off you’ll be.
4) Study your own time management
You might be making money, but if you don’t have time for anything else, is it really worth it? Time is money—it’s just that simple. As a freelancer, you need to understand how your time is spent so you can figure out how to save more of it and make better use of it. Consider tracking your time with software like Toggl or RescueTime, which will help you see where you spend most of your day. Then, adjust accordingly: Maybe it’s time to delegate some tasks or hire an assistant.
5) Consider how you market yourself
Modern freelancing is a strange term. It’s still mostly considered day labor or a side hustle, and it’s difficult to get yourself out there without spending some money on marketing. There are traditional marketing methods like networking, building your own website, and reaching out on social media (these are all things you can do for free), but freelance content marketers have an edge: writing. You don’t need to be a professional writer, just someone who can write well enough that people will read what you write. And if they read what you write, they might click on your name—and then when they see that you’re available for hire, they might hire you!
6) Take lots of breaks
Modern freelancing often means working odd hours, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health. The best freelancers have disciplined practices for taking breaks and protecting their health. Your goal is to set aside time every day—and ideally, every week—for rest. This can include daily walking or stretching, short nap breaks, weekly yoga sessions and monthly massages. If you schedule these activities into your calendar, they’ll become part of your routine—and so will recharging. If you don’t schedule them, they won’t happen.
7) Invest in learning new skills and technologies
As technology improves, new skillsets become more valuable. If you’re trying to freelance, make sure you’re constantly learning new technologies. This way, you can take advantage of future opportunities and stay at least one step ahead of your competition. In fact, freelancers who invest heavily in lifelong learning (and networking) are 6x more likely to earn over $75k/year than their counterparts. How much should you spend on learning? Experts recommend spending 10% of your income on books, courses, workshops, conferences—basically anything that helps build your skill set. Some people even say it’s worth spending 50% of your time on learning. It all depends on how much money you want to make and how far you want to go with freelancing.