Learn how to work for yourself, critical considerations for aspiring freelancers, and how to set yourself up with the proper tools.
Many dream of becoming their own boss — and with perks like setting your own hours, taking on projects that genuinely interest you, and being the sole driver on your road to success, it’s no surprise why. Going self-employed is liberating, and there's no time like the present to do work for yourself. Thanks to unprecedented access to virtual tools — from video conferencing services to document-sharing platforms — working from home is more accessible than ever.
But like any dream, getting started as a freelancer isn’t without its fair share of diligent planning and hard work. If you're wondering how to work for yourself and make a living as a successful Independent, we have good news: You're already off to a great start. You're thinking critically about the best career path for you, and that's where we come in.
Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of working for yourself, the steps to launch your career as a successful Independent, and job ideas to help get you started.
How-to video 📺
The benefits of self-employment ✨
One of the obvious pluses of working for yourself? Creating your own hours. But the benefits of self-employment go beyond making your own schedule.
The many pros include:
- Calling the shots: Independents set their own terms, deciding where, when, and how they work. They also define their brand and services, allowing their unique creativity to truly shine.
- Taking charge in establishing work-life balance: Finding the ideal balance between personal and professional isn’t always easy, but once you get it right, chances are you’ll enjoy your free time even more. As an Independent, you work as much as is right for you. Sure, financial goals may dictate your workload, but striking a comfortable work-life balance happens on your terms.
- Doing what you love: There's a bonus to working in your desired industry as a freelancer rather than an employee. As an Independent, you can focus on a specific niche and decide what projects to take on.
How to be self-employed 🛣️
Before taking the leap into an independent career, any aspiring freelancer should first consider the following:
- Self-discipline: Working from home at your own pace presents unique challenges, like proactively separating your personal and professional time. Successful Independents manage their schedules efficiently and dedicate a specific time and space for work.
- Work can fluctuate: Independents should always have a plan for rainy days, including a reserve pool of savings to get through a decline in projects. Building a solid client base allows you to have alternatives if an opportunity dries up.
- Community is key: Many Independents gain new clients thanks to word-of-mouth marketing. Even after you make a name for yourself and projects start rolling in consistently, remember to reach out to your community (even if it's online) to connect and find new opportunities. Using Contra can help you get connected. Our platform lets potential clients review your portfolio, and services, and reach out to hire you.
Tips for running your business solo 🎯
As an Independent, you're on your own. In addition to your projects, you’ll have to handle all the administrative work. Here are some tips on how to run your business solo:
- Start slow. Don't bite off more than you can chew before you get a feel for your workflow. It can be challenging to say no to projects, but you can't work well if you're overtasked.
- Write a business plan. It will help you set financial goals, define your target audience and the services they'd benefit from, and establish what sets your work apart.
- Be smart about quitting your day job. Only do so once you have enough freelance work to make ends meet. Start working independently part-time, and give your two weeks’ notice only when you’re confident about going solo.
- Make a schedule. And stick to it. Don't just account for your projects—add administrative tasks to your calendar.
- Get the right tools. Like any small business owner, Independents should consider a client relationship management (CRM) system and a scheduling program. Contra is a great platform to host your profile page, simplify client communication and payment, and gain access to new opportunities.
- Set a budget. There's nothing more overwhelming than getting to the end of a successful fiscal year and realizing you didn't set money aside for overhead or taxes. Make sure you're saving a cut of your profits to account for the costs of doing business.
- Outsource. Hiring external help to manage whatever isn't within your skill set allows you to focus on handling what is. “Self-employed” doesn't have to mean totally self-reliant.
Top “work-for-yourself” jobs 🧑💻
Not every aspiring Independent is sure about their passions and the kind of freelance services they'd like to offer. And that’s okay! If you're interested in independent work and have a solid skill set but have yet to find your calling, check out these common freelance business ideas. These are just a few self-employed job examples that may be a good fit.
- Social media
- And so much more!
Ready to start? 🚴
If you’re ready to get started working as an Independent, we're ready to help. Start your journey as a freelancer by teaming up with Contra. Read more about how to kickstart your career on our blog, The Contrarian, and sign up today to use our commission-free marketplace for Independents. We provide a platform for your portfolio, opportunities to get discovered, and all the tools you need to get paid for doing what you love.
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