Freelancing is an attractive proposition. Many SEOs get their start freelancing because the material barrier to entry is quite low, and there’s a high demand for the services.

If you’re good at what you do, you can earn high rates as an SEO consultant. Freelancing is also an excellent path into a career by virtue of the direct hands-on experience with client websites.

According to the World Bank, there are 1.57 billion self-employed people in the world, which is 46.6% of the global workforce.

Freelance is growing in popularity. According to Remote’s 2022 survey, 28% of employees in the US and UK plan to do freelance in the next five years. 40% of young people (25 – 34) want to go freelance, and 52% will do it part-time.

Some projections estimate that by 2027, 86.5 million people, or 50.9% of the US workforce, will be freelance. The Upwork survey, Freelance Forward 2022, found that Gen Z and Millennials are the most likely to freelance.

In 2022, 43% of Gen Z professionals and 46% of Millennial professionals worked freelance. 51% freelancers, (31 million professionals), provided knowledge services such as marketing, IT, business consulting and computer programming in 2022.

There are many advantages to going freelance, such as control over job security, flexibility – including the ability to remote work 100% of the time and choose the clients one wants to work for – and more control over one’s career.

However, there are also some areas that people do not always talk about, or those preparing to go freelance may not be aware of.

Loneliness

Going freelance can be lonely, especially if you are living alone or not in a relationship. Depending on the city, it can be difficult to meet others.

According to a Meta and Gallup survey of people aged 15 years and older across 142 countries, 24% of people report feeling very or fairly lonely.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared loneliness to be a pressing global health threat, with the US surgeon general citing that its mortality effects are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

How To Manage Loneliness

Join a co-working place. If you put the membership in the company’s name that should mean it is deductible from profits, but check that with your accountant.

Join other communities that support freelancers. The Digital Marketing Union (DMU) was set up in 2019 as the founder was lonely working on his own.

In the DMU’s Slack channel, there is always a lot of interaction, where freelancers ask/respond to questions. There is also a weekly video chat, offering members the chance to catch up virtually.

Women in Tech SEO is a great community that supports others, and there are regular virtual meetups.

Costs Of Working For Yourself

Many freelancers may not realize the cost of working for themselves.

For example, in some European countries, social security contributions are very high. This is something normally covered by the employer, but as a freelancer, that person has to pay for it.

The employer (depending on the country) may also contribute to the employee’s pension – but as a freelancer, this is another cost to consider.

Those working for themselves may also have to pay private insurance as well as the cost of tools and licenses outside of repairing or buying a computer/laptop.

It sounds obvious, but working for oneself means managing one’s own taxes. In some countries, tax is immediately charged at 19%, and it is important to keep this money aside.

There may also be start-up costs, such as registering a business name. Some countries require a minimum amount of start-up capital in the bank; the company cannot go below that level; otherwise, it risks closure.

Tip To Manage Costs

Make sure to save at least 40% of all gross income.

This will help ensure there is enough money to pay taxes and social security costs, as well as account for the SEO tools and laptop or computer fixes that freelancers need to pay.

Periods Of Highs And Lows

Freelance workers can have very busy periods where they are working nights and weekends, as well as during the week.

However, there are also quiet periods when they have more time on their hands than they would like. This is the opportunity for freelancers to take that course or attend that conference they always wanted to attend.

How To Manage These Periods Of Highs And Lows

It can be difficult to scale and manage these periods of highs and lows, so time management is key.

Make sure you’re spending periods of low activity investing in the future of your success. During the quiet periods, freelancers should take the opportunity to work on sales. It is important to have a warm lead pipeline.

When it gets busy, use a calendar or time management app to keep you focused on critical tasks.

Time Management

Managing one’s time is extremely important as a freelancer. Over-servicing one client may mean the other is under-serviced and could end in them leaving.

Therefore, it is necessary to write in the terms and conditions of agreements that the contract is for a set period and work must be undertaken during that time.

Be strict with your time for the project. If a project drags on, tell the client, and make sure to be paid for the extra hours worked.

Some freelancers charge hourly, while others may charge on a project-by-project basis. Charging by project may sometimes mean the freelancer over-services if the project takes longer than anticipated.

How To Manage Your Own Time

Block out your calendar for different client tasks and try to keep meetings to a minimum.

Make sure you also block out days and weeks for vacation to spend that time to unwind and not think about work.

Invest The Time Writing Up Contracts

Following on from the last point, if a freelancer finds the time they allocated for a project has not been used within the set period, they may find themselves working well after the contract has finished – but may not be getting paid any extra.

Therefore, it is crucial to spend time writing up water-tight contracts.

Finding Clients

Some freelancers find clients from referrals or their own network.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that one has a good network and at least a couple of confirmed clients (with contracts signed) before going freelance.

However, there may be times when a freelancer has no warm leads and needs to do cold outreach.

This can feel uncomfortable, but it is necessary, especially in times like now when marketing budgets have dropped.

Stress

Running one’s own business can be very stressful, which one may not think about before entering the freelance world.

According to the Freelancers Union and Upwork 2022 Study, 72% of freelancers have work-related stress, compared to 58% of traditional employees.

Freelancers also tend to work more than the 40-hour week – 51% of freelancers versus 36% of traditional employees –which means they have less time to relax and unwind.

How To Manage Stress

The first step is to recognize it and then seek support. The IPSE provides guides on managing this.

Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs of being stressed and overwhelmed before it becomes too consuming.

It can be difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance as a freelancer. One important step is to stick to firm “office hours” and avoid working outside of them — even answering emails.

Find A Good Accountant

Working freelance means looking after one’s own taxes and filing them correctly.

It is therefore very important to find a good accountant who can help with expenses and make your company as tax efficient as possible.

Depending on the country of business (for example, in Europe, taxes are very high), more or fewer expenses can be offset against a freelancer’s income from their company.

Before starting the freelance journey, find a responsive accountant who can help you become tax-efficient.

Then, ensure everything is in order before generating revenue; otherwise, sometimes, tax fines are unavoidable, and if someone has paid too much in tax, it can take months to get it back.

Conclusion

Sometimes, becoming a freelancer isn’t necessarily a choice.

Between 2022 and 2023, 40,000 people lost their jobs at Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce.

Those in the US do not tend to be given much, if any, notice; if someone is one of the lucky ones who escaped the cull, now is their time to plan their objectives if they intend to go freelance.

To make the most of all the opportunities freelance work has to offer, write out SMART objectives for going freelance and prepare a business plan. Where do you see yourself in 12 months, 36 months, or longer?

To avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed, write out a to-do list but also a completed list of things you have done so far.

Many of us focus too much on what we need to do, but how often do we sit back and look at what we have achieved?

To manage that freelance life no one talks about, be a great project manager and time tracker. Do not over-service without being paid for it, and make sure you take your vacation days as if you cannot refill your own tank, it will be hard to deliver the best service to your clients.

One last point, to freelancers: well done, and congratulations for all you have worked on and your projects completed to date.

If you ever feel like going back to working for an organization, you will bring with you many new skills and qualifications; any company will be lucky to have you as you have the drive and determination to succeed.

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Featured Image: Juliana Turnbull




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