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Freelance Full Time with The Freelancer Checklist

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Upwork Staff
Kirsten A Upwork Staff Member Since: Apr 2, 2019
1 of 14

Switching from a 9-to-5 job to running your own independent business can be rewarding—and word is spreading. The 2019 Freelancing in America survey found that, for the first time since its launch in 2014, as many freelancers view self-employment as a long-term career choice as those who view it as a temporary way to make money.

 

But it has its challenges. Read on to help decide whether it’s time to work for yourself, then download this handy checklist to help track your progress (PDF attached at the bottom of this post).

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1. Assess whether you’re ready to be your own boss

The reality is that not everyone is up for the task of being a solopreneur. And that’s okay! Take a moment to evaluate your work habits and organizational skills:

  • Do you thrive when working by yourself?
  • Can you manage your own schedule effectively?
  • Are you good at motivating yourself to stay on task?
  • Are you comfortable with uncertainty and a variable income?

 

If the answer to these questions is yes, self-employment may be a good option. Being your own boss means you need to be able to prioritize, organize, be comfortable with independence, and be open to a certain degree of risk.

 

However, if you do best when working on projects that are managed by someone else, or if you find working on your own very lonely, you might find running your own business stressful or isolating.

 

Pro tip: Use Upwork to help build your business! And if you’re new to Upwork, keep these nine tips in mind to get your business moving in the right direction. 

 

2. Evaluate your skillset

How market-ready is your skillset? Take a look at your experience and skills—both hard and soft. How in-demand are they? And how can you package your skills and services to best attract the type of projects you’re interested in?

 

Here are a few areas to look at:

You’ll also need to hone your business strategy skills. “How you organize your business is every bit as critical to your success as the quality of the product or service you offer,” said full-time contract writeChristopher Clemence.

 

3. Get your finances in order

The uncertainty you started thinking about earlier in this post? Much of that applies to your finances. From balancing your rates with your expenses and making sure you capture everything, there are a lot of financial elements to consider. For example:

Create a budget: List your monthly and annual personal expenses (i.e., rent/mortgage, groceries, transportation) and business expenses (i.e., coworking space, computer) to figure out how much money you need to make. Other expenses are optional but still important, such as travel, holiday gifts, and charitable contributions. And don’t forget your emergency fund. Check out these tips to help automate your financial management

 

Set your rate: Set an hourly or project-based rate that is commensurate with your level of experience and the quality of work you deliver. Market trends, potential risks, and your desired profit are key things to consider—charge what you’re worth and always deliver quality. Avoid common mistakes, such as undercharging or using your previous salary as a benchmark. And when you’re ready for the next step, try these six methods for raising your rates without losing any clients.

 

Get insurance: Unexpected things happen and getting insurance for your business can help keep you covered. But getting the right coverage can be confusing; if you’re looking for a place to start when it comes to insurance, we suggest these resources on incorporation insurance and health insurance and disability. You can also learn more by reading Liability Insurance 101” and “Important Insurance Information for Freelancers.” 

 

Consider your business type: Do you know if you should be a sole proprietorship, an LLC, or an S-Corp? Here’s a look at the five business entities you should know about

 

Setting up a legal entity can also save you money at tax time. The best person to talk to about your options is an accountant or tax attorney in your area. They can help make sure you’re compliant with any applicable regulations. And speaking of taxes…

 

4. Set your future self up for financial stability

It’s of the utmost importance to research, understand, and plan for your tax obligations. While every location is different, the U.S. tax code offers a number of benefits and deductions for self-employed workers—from a home office deduction to a larger retirement plan contribution limit.

 

Proper planning can help prevent you from getting stuck with a big payment or penalty at the end of the year, so we recommend contacting a qualified professional to make sure you’re covered. You can also check in with the Tax Withholding Estimator from the IRS

 

And don’t forget about retirement funds! Your future self will thank you for considering a gift that keeps on giving. To learn more about how you can plan ahead and manage your small business finances, check out our Upwork Business Resources.

(This article provides general information only. This article does not address all issues for freelancers, may not contain current or complete information, and cannot and should not be relied upon as legal or tax advice. Readers are strongly encouraged to seek tax advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.)

 

5. Set Up a physical workspace with the right equipment

You don’t have to have a fancy co-working space or specific office building to go to, but it’s essential to have a dedicated spot where you can stay organized, focus, and create a professional setup

 

Not sure where to get started? Check out these workspace resources.

 

Next, make sure you have the proper equipment to do the work—and backups to keep that work protected. This might include: 

  • A desktop computer or laptop
  • A mobile phone (which can double as a handy hotspot)
  • A webcam
  • Headphones with a good mic
  • Battery packs
  • A reliable Internet connection—and a contingency plan

 

If you’re in a specialized field and need additional equipment, ensure you budget accordingly.

 

6. Start marketing yourself

Promoting your business is critical to success—marketing yourself and searching for the projects that align with your capabilities. Remember, you are your own chief marketing officer!  

 

Here are some important marketing tasks to put on your to-do list:

  • Create a brand name: It’s important to decide what your business will be called. Are you going to use your name or pick a name for your company? Use your brand name consistently across all digital channels, social media sites, and business materials such as invoices and business cards.
  • Secure your social media sites: If you’re using a new name for your business, grab a domain name and any social media site handles. Whatever social sites you plan to use, make sure they’re professional, consistent, and cross-linked with each other. Here’s how to set yourself up for success in just 15 minutes a day.
  • Use a professional headshot: Your headshot is how you present yourself to the world—including clients who may never meet you in person. Make a great impression with a professional-looking photo.
  • SEO your profile and portfolio: Considering a majority of projects posted on Upwork are invitation-only, you don’t want your profile to show up at the bottom of search results. Optimize your profile and portfolio with the relevant keywords, skills, and experience to help you get better visibility
  • Scope out the competition: Keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing shows business savvy. Look at the websites and profiles of other successful, independent professionals getting the type of contracts you would like. How do they style their portfolio and list their experience? What are their rates? Note your likes and dislikes, then create an action plan that outlines areas where you can improve. 

 

Investing your attention to communicate about your story, product, and service clearly can help your client-base grow.

 

7. Take it to the next level: Build an agency

If business is booming, it might be time to make your move from Top Rated Freelancer to Agency Owner. An agency on Upwork is an account used by businesses with multiple team members who collaborate on client projects. By partnering with independent professionals who have complementary skills, you can pursue larger and more complex projects.

 

While starting an agency is not for everyone, with patience, persistence—and yes, a lot of hard work—you can grow your solo enterprise into a thriving agency. Here are five things to consider first as well as a guide to grow your agency’s business once you get started.

 

 

Running your own business can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. Remember, it’s all up to you to shape your business, your reputation, and your own success.  Share your journey with us on Facebook and Twitter!


Kirsten Agnello-Dean
Social Media Manager
Upwork
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Benedict N Member Since: Feb 28, 2020
3 of 14

I'm glad to be a member of this forum and I'm looking forward to learn more on this forum. 

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Nasir M Member Since: Mar 3, 2020
3 of 14

how i talk to you now \

 

 

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Avery O Moderator Member Since: Nov 23, 2015
4 of 14

Hi Nasir, 


Is there anything our team can help you with today?


-Avery
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Benedict N Member Since: Feb 28, 2020
5 of 14

Kudos

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Amany M Member Since: Feb 15, 2020
6 of 14
Let me know what is the type of this work?
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Husnain K Member Since: May 16, 2017
7 of 14

Thank you 

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Habib B Member Since: May 21, 2020
8 of 14

hi, I am Habibbos. I had any question

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Joanne Marie P Moderator Member Since: Nov 26, 2017
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Hi Habib,

 

We'd be happy to assist you with your concern. Please share with us more information, and we'll gladly assist you with it. 


-Joanne
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Mohona A Member Since: Jun 3, 2020
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Becoming a Freelancer is a great feeling