Before Going Freelance

Carl Sagan was a cosmologist who famously said: "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe", meaning that before buying the ingredients and even before the farmer plants the apples or the wheat or the sugar cane, if you really want to make something from scratch you would have to go all the way back to the big bang, or whatever came before. The same way, if you want to start a career as a freelancer from scratch, before you quit your day job you must start by asking yourself the first and most basic question: am I capable of running a business?

Being a freelance photographer I can tell you that it's all fun and games while I'm shooting, but sadly shooting only accounts to approximately 10% of my time. The other 90% is spent on looking for clients, meeting with clients, pre-production, post-production, self-promotion, crunching numbers and what it seems like an infinite number of other administrative tasks. So if what you are is what you do the most, a freelancer is a business person even before being a crafter.

If you are considering a career as a freelancer, you should ask yourself at least some of the questions below:

  • Do I have the financial support? Many years can go by before you start seeing profit. At best you will be covering your expenses in those first few years. So before quitting your day job make sure that you have money for the rent, for food and for keeping your business running until you start seeing profit.
  • Do I understand the Industry? If you want to become a Makeup Artist, for instance, do you know what kind of makeup will you do? Retail? Bridal? Indian Bridal? Fashion? Special Effects? Will you work from home or go to your client or liaise with a brand, a salon, a studio or a production company? Do you need an agent? Have you considered assisting?
  • Do I know my client? Who is that person? Where do they work? What do they like? How do they like to be approached? Do they use similar services? What is their budget? When do they hire?
  • Do I understand the business? So you have got the clients and you have got the jobs... what's next? Do you understand invoicing and accounts receivables? How about cash flow? Have you ever filed taxes? Do you even need to at this stage? VAT? Self-promotion, prospecting, sales funnel, 80:20? Do these concepts make sense to you?

These are just a few questions that will help you realize if you are ready to be a freelancer. They are not meant to scare you off, on the contrary. They are meant to make you understand that there is so much more to freelancing that meets the eye.

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