Can we make a living from freelancing?
People probably won't be surprised to hear that freelancers often talk about money. The topic of money comes up a lot in online forums and conversations with friends. Of course, if you ask around, you'll get different answers about whether freelancers can make a living, but a survey found that the median hourly rate for freelance work was $19 throughout all sectors and countries.
Surveys like this should be taken with a grain of salt since the average freelancer's income can vary depending on many different things. But from what we've seen, the answer is yes, you can make a good (or even great!) living as a freelancer. How hard will it be? Not very difficult, but not too easy either. Is it going to be worth it? Definitely.
Here are a few things we think the average freelancer needs to do to make a living wage:
Consider it as a business:
If you say “goodbye” to your day job for freelancing because you want to stay in your pajamas all day, work while in bed, and have an off every Friday, here's a secret: you won't succeed. "Dress up and show up" is a good piece of advice. Even if you do most of your job from behind a computer screen, that doesn't mean you don't have to act as you do.
You are the CEO of your business as a freelancer, so you should act like one. That means keeping regular hours (so clients, editors, collaborators, etc. can reach you), setting up an actual workspace, and, yes, getting dressed. Of course, you don't have to wear a suit to sit at your desk, but if you do, that's great! At the very least, you should change out of your pajamas.
Have a plan:
If you keep careful records of your work, you can tell if your business is expanding or how successful you are. Depending on what kind of freelancing you do, this type of documentation might look different. Never miss a deadline, and (hopefully even more importantly) never forget to send a late payment.
Spend something on your company:
Even though you might be able to do your freelance work on a computer that's seven years old and doesn't have a printer, scanner, or good cell phone service, it's more likely that this will cause you a lot of trouble. So if you're starting and don't have much money, you might want to open a separate savings account and put even a few dollars from each paycheck. That way, you can spend a lot of money a few months from now on the tools that will really help your business grow. And remember that you may be able to get a tax break for anything you buy for your business.
Learn how to network like a pro:
A not-so-secret tip for making a good living as a freelancer is that you often have to work for more than one client simultaneously. So unless you get a high-paying freelance job right away (congrats! ), it can take a long time—even years—to build up a solid body of work or get to the higher-paying clients who are harder to find.
If you're willing to invest the time and effort, you can earn a decent living as a freelancer. The above ideas are a good place to begin.