Being an online freelancer is an incredible journey. With the right mindset, it can be very rewarding and full of opportunity for growth, fulfillment, and self-realization.
It’s also a great time to become an online freelancer. There are so many possibilities when it comes to providing services these days, particularly as more and more businesses are choosing to outsource tasks versus the “old days” of paying employees to sit at desks in their offices. By putting your skills and passions to use to serve others, you can literally create your own reality in the world of online freelancing.
A wonderful aspect of online freelancing is that, again, with the right mindset, just about anyone can do it and be successful. This mindset involves making a commitment to your business and ultimately yourself.
It’s worth the time and effort to consider whether this is the right path for you, and being informed will help you make your decision. This post will explore the benefits and realities of online freelancing so that you’ll be able to make the right decision for you.
The Benefits of Online Freelancing
You get to be your own boss
This is probably what comes to mind first for most people when they consider becoming an online freelancer, and it really is an incredible benefit. You “make the rules” when it comes to your work and have the opportunity to create your business in exactly the fashion you desire.
This includes deciding what kind of work you’ll do, who you’ll do it for and when you’ll do it. For many people, this alone is reason enough to pursue building their career as an online freelancer.
Time may be our most precious commodity, and having the ability to dictate how you’ll spend it is… priceless.
Being an online freelancer means creating your own work hours and schedule around the lifestyle and things that are meaningful to you. While this may also mean, at times, working around things, particularly if you begin your journey while working a traditional ‘9-5’, knowing that you are ultimately in control of your schedule is incredibly freeing and very worth the effort.
You can create your dream job from the ground up
What do you love to do? What are you passionate about and what gets you excited? This is the perfect place to start when it comes to deciding what type of online freelancing you’ll do and that is an awesome place to begin!
As several online freelancers shared with me in my interviews with them, one of the keys to being a successful online freelancer is doing something that you’re passionate about. What an incredible opportunity to build a business and income around something that you love to do! As I said earlier, it’s a great time to be an online freelancer and there is pretty much something for everybody when it comes to finding a niche and serving others.
Create your own salary
An important part of being an online freelancer is setting goals for yourself, including financial ones. While you may be stuck at a certain income level with a traditional job, freelancing offers the opportunity to decide what you want to earn.
As a freelancer, you have the flexibility to grow your business and income by delivering more services to accommodate your financial goals. Of course, this means having skills that are valuable to others, but once you’ve figured these out and have spent time building them you now have the opportunity to serve the marketplace and grow your income to the degree you desire.
As an online freelancer, you also have the unique opportunity to change course whenever and however you want should you find that you’re not enjoying your work or that it’s not producing the results that you want. Not only is this a benefit of online freelancing, it’s also a really important component of a healthy business.
Freelancing involves continually assessing your business- how it’s going and how you’re feeling about it. The ability to adjust and change course at will is an awesome benefit, particularly in comparison to the drama of quitting a job and looking for a new one.
Realities of Online Freelancing
You’re your own boss
While yes, being your own boss may be one of the “number one” benefits to online freelancing, it’s also a reality. In this context, you need to be comfortable with the fact that things are all on you.
What this translates to is that successful online freelancers need to be organized and perhaps most of all, disciplined. Not having an office to report to means that on those days that you just really don’t want to get out of bed that you need to be able to summon the focus and drive to do so anyway. Your business and income depend on it!
Being your own boss, and not having a job dictated to you, also means being able to be creative. Often this can mean going outside your comfort zone to make real results happen in your business, but while this is a “reality” of online freelancing it’s also one of the awesome benefits.
Moving outside your comfort zone is an opportunity to push yourself and see how far you can go. While it may be challenging and uncomfortable at times it is so very worth the effort and journey.
There are a lot of tools and resources out there for helping freelancers stay organized and productive. You can read about some of them here.
You need to take care of your own business
As an online freelancer, you’ll need to take care of things yourself that a traditional employer would typically handle. A couple of these things, for example, are health insurance and planning time away for vacations.
While planning a vacation likely doesn’t sound like much of a challenge, it’s the difference in mindset between being told when you can take time away from your work versus being organized in your business so that you can take time away.
It’s a reality that we all need time away from what keeps us busy in order to be our best and healthiest selves, and it can be easy to overlook this when running your own business.
You need to be able to manage your finances
Working as a freelancer also means that you’ll need to track and maintain the financial aspects of your business. This includes tracking expenses and income, as well as staying on top of your taxes. While this isn’t a “glamorous” side of being an online freelancer, it is a necessary one.
Remaining financially responsible with your business will pay off, literally, when it comes to its growth and will keep you from unnecessary headaches down the road. For some tips and resources on this topic, I created a step-by-step guide to money management for the self-employed that you can read here.
You need to be comfortable with potential fluctuation in your income, particularly at first
In contrast to a traditional job, where a paycheck of a (usually) known amount gets delivered on set days, as a freelancer income can often fluctuate and come at unpredictable times. While it’s the goal of most online freelancers to create stability and predictability in their incomes, this isn’t always a reality.
This is typically more of a challenge when just starting out, but it’s an issue that online freelancers need to be aware of, comfortable with and able to plan for.
Your friends and family may not understand what you’re doing
While it’s an incredible time to become an online freelancer because there is so much opportunity to be had, many people are still stuck in the mindset that if you don’t clock in at a job every day that you are somehow not working.
For some, this may not be a significant challenge or factor, but for others the support of friends and loved ones holds meaning. What’s important and helpful, in this case, is a willingness and ability to believe in yourself and remain committed to your journey.
You need to be willing to invest in yourself and your business
In order to be a successful online freelancer you need to have something valuable to offer to others when it comes to skill, and you need to stay relevant and “ahead of things” in your niche. This means that you need to be willing to gain and build those skills.
Most often this means taking a course in your chosen area of expertise, but this can also mean investing in the tools and resources you may need to deliver your services. This doesn’t mean that you can’t start a career as an online freelancer without investing a significant amount of money, however, in order to be successful in the long-term, this is an important aspect of any online freelancer’s business.
There are many, many courses out there to help you establish and build your skills as an online freelancer. Here are some I recommend:
You can read my interviews with women who have taken these courses (including myself!) and are running successful business here.
You need to be willing to persevere
Yes, online freelancing is an incredible and awesome journey. It can also be a roller coaster ride at times, full of ups and downs, successes and failures. Setting out on this journey means a commitment to sticking it out through the difficult times and seeing it through as the people who don’t succeed at this are the ones who quit.
Challenging times in the life of a freelancer are inevitable and these are the times where we take inventory, reassess and make any necessary adjustments. These times are opportunity for growth and learning and are just simply part of the process.
While you can begin to make money relatively quickly as an online freelancer the success you’re seeking likely won’t come overnight. Once again, however, it is absolutely worth the time, effort and energy to build a lasting and rewarding business for yourself.
Making a decision
While you’re spending time considering the above benefits and realities of online freelancing you can ask yourself these questions:
- Am I willing to commit to this journey and stick it out even when it’s challenging?
- Am I willing to invest in myself?
- Can I afford some instability in my income while I’m getting established?
- Do I have the discipline it takes to get out of bed (or stay up late), be organized and remain diligent with building my business?
If the answers are “yes”, congratulations- you’re about to embark on an incredibly rewarding endeavor.
Remember that there are a lot of resources out there to support you as you build your business, including my Free Resource Library that contains information and tools to help you along in your freelancing adventure.
There are several things to consider in this post, and after reading it hopefully you have clarity and even better, are inspired to begin your own freelancing journey.
What do you think? Is online freelancing right for you? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!