If you don’t think of freelancing as a graduate job, you may be missing a trick.
Being self-employed can be hugely rewarding and graduates shouldn’t dismiss it as either a short-term or more permanent option. To some it may sound like a precarious path with no certainty and little direction, whilst others see it as an exciting world of possibilities. It all depends on your mindset and skills.
You’re the boss
Having the autonomy to make all the decisions about when, where, how and with who you work, is one of the big attractions and the personal satisfaction that comes with this sense of ownership can be huge. But to make it work, you’ll need to be driven and self-reliant. There may not be a pipeline of work and you can never be complacent.
- Some choose this as a temporary or part-time option worked around more permanent roles. You could supplement another source of income by providing freelance services in your own time.
- It could be about gaining credible work experience which provides a stepping stone into employment within a competitive sector.
- Maybe you have an entrepreneurial streak and want to tap in to emerging markets by setting yourself up as an expert. Often freelancing can lead on to a new business start-up and before you know it, you’re employing other freelancers.
- You value variety and would like to try portfolio working – a career that allows multiple strands of unrelated work or projects.
How to succeed
To win over clients you’ll need to find your niche and become an expert. Identify a gap in the market and consider your USP. You’re likely to face competition, so you need to stand out from the crowd and have the strengths to carry you forward. It takes strength of character and fire in your belly. Do some self-reflection first. Have you got bags of the following?
We asked – what do you like about freelancing?
‘The variety of work that I get to do, I’ve worked on such a mix of client types and requirements that it’s given me a breadth of experience I wouldn’t find within a business.’
‘Independence, better pay per day.’
‘Being in charge of my own destiny and creating my own opportunities.’
‘The flexibility that goes with it, so that I can determine a good work / life balance.’
We asked – what don’t you like about freelancing?
‘Insecurity. Work can ebb and flow so a regular income can be challenging.’
‘It can be hard to motivate yourself sometimes, the project management side of things is often overlooked as a genuine skill. I’ve done projects where I had a separate project manager taking care of that side of things and it made the quality of my work better.’
We asked – what are your top tips for freelancing success?
‘Always keep an eye on the pipeline, making sure there’s a mix of selling and doing.’
‘Recognise yourself for the professional you are. Imposter syndrome as a freelancer can be crippling, regularly look back at the great work you’ve done and feel proud. Also, get comfortable saying no.’
‘Network, network, network’.