5 Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Freelancer

5 Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Freelancer

Every year, more and more of the worldwide workforce is shifting from brick-and-mortar office days to a freelance structure. 

There are currently 1.1 billion freelancers in the world, accounting for over 30% of the total workforce. Most employees report they feel more productive when they work outside of a 9-5 full time work structure. 

Freelancers also report greater sense of work-life balance with the ability to choose which projects they take on and when. Unlike traditional jobs, freelancing allows individuals to choose companies and projects that align with their values.

If that sounds appealing, you might be ready for a career as a freelancer.

A freelance worker is someone who works for themselves rather than a company. Freelancers might take on contract work or earn income for individual tasks that they invoice to businesses or individuals. 

In other words, a freelancer is “self-employed.” And that means you’ll have your own business — whether or not you register it in a state as an LLC. 

Common Freelancer Jobs

Because most freelancers take on their own clients, it’s not necessary to be in an office. Freelancers can work from wherever, for companies all over the world. 

Below are some examples of common freelancing jobs: 

  • Graphic Designer
  • Copywriter
  • Social Media Manager
  • Voiceover Actor
  • Branding Consultant
  • Illustrator
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Photographer
  • App Developer
  • Data Analyst 
  • Programmer
  • Lawyer
  • Personal Trainer
  • Yoga Instructor
  • Tutor
  • Substitute Teacher 

Many of these freelance jobs allow you to work anywhere and go everywhere. They can be done from home and can be taken with you as you travel and explore the world. 

If you’re new to freelancing you’ll immediately feel the benefits of having a flexible schedule and work routine. 

Tips for Freelancer Beginners

Going freelance might feel intimidating at first. While you might love not having to be in an office anymore, there are a few things you’ll need to consider now as a freelancer that you didn’t have to think about in a traditional job. 

Sure, you won’t have a commute anymore (except to your desk). But now you’ll be responsible for keeping close tabs on your invoices, taxes, and getting your own healthcare plan.

If you’re looking to start a freelancing career, we’ve rounded up some easy tips and tricks for freelancers to make the transition a little smoother for you. 

1. Figure out Your Health Insurance Options 

Unlike traditional jobs, you won’t have an employer-provided health insurance plan provided for you as a freelancer. Before you make the switch, it’s important to plan out your own health insurance options — including vision and dental. 

Check to see if you qualify for your state’s Medicaid/Medicare program. These are government-funded health insurance plans available for low-income individuals and families. 

If you don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, check out your state’s healthcare website to find a health plan that works for you. On your state’s website, you’ll be able to select a health insurance plan for you or your family. 

Take note of the enrollment period, as you won’t be able to register for the next year’s health insurance coverage after the deadline!

2. Get Your Taxes Organized

    It’s safe to say your taxes will likely be a bit less straight forward as a freelancer, especially if you have multiple gigs. You’ll have different tax forms to fill out now, like the 1099-K. 

    Freelancers are also responsible for paying a self-employment tax of 15.3%. This represents the Social Security and Medicare taxes that would have been deducted from your paycheck automatically with a traditional employer. 

    On the plus side, as a freelancer you can write off some expenses that can help you save money down the line, including: 

    • Startup costs (permits, licenses, etc.)
    • Business-related food 
    • Lodging
    • Office expenses
    • Work equipment and materials

    If you work from home, you can also utilize the home office deduction to write off everything from rent to utilities in the area of your home that you use as an office. 

    Make sure you keep any receipts related to your work organized (or enter them directly into a spreadsheet) so that you can enter them when you file your taxes. 

    3. Set Up Your Home Office

      Having a reliable place to work at home is pivotal as a freelancer. And no, we don’t mean hunched over the kitchen counter or on the couch.

      Having an ergonomic office setup keeps you comfortable, focused, and pain-free while you work. This includes monitoring screen time with tools like the 20-20-20 rule (for every 20 minutes starring at a screen, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds).

      If you have a separate room to create a home office, you’re set. If you don’t, it’s time to get creative. Even a desk placed by a window with a partition set up in the living room can do the trick. 

      Below are a few essentials for a freelancer home office: 

      • A comfortable and ergonomic office chair
      • Monitor, keyboard, and mouse
      • Access to Wi-Fi
      • External hard drive and thumb drives
      • Headphones 
      • Decent lighting for Zoom calls
      • Inspirational posters and artwork 

      Take into consideration your hours of operation as well. If you live in an apartment building where many others work from home and the Wi-Fi signal isn’t so strong — or you have other people at home to distract you — it might make sense to find other options to stay focused. 

      Consider a membership to a co-working office, or find your favorite nearby coffee shop to get your work done. 

      4. Pay Attention to Work-Life Balance 

      Work-life balance is essential in preventing burnout. In a recent study, 75% of workers reported feeling burned out, with 67% reported it worsening during the pandemic.

      Working as a freelancer can be liberating in many ways, but it can also make you feel socially disconnected to your company and colleagues. There’s no “office” to meet up with your coworkers as a freelancer, and no commute to get you out of the house. 

      To take care of your mental health while freelancing, build out a work routine that ensures you’re not working around the clock. That might mean going for a walk twice a day, taking a few reading breaks, and making sure you take a lunch break to fuel up. 

      Maintaining your work-life balance is in your hands now, so don’t be afraid adjust deadlines or say no to more projects.

      If you find yourself feeling socially isolated and disconnected during the week, build in time for virtual Happy Hours with coworkers, or meet up with a friend a few times a week to work at a coffee shop together. 

      5. Set Yourself Up for Success with the Right Work Bag

        Being a freelancer gives you freedom — it’s literally in the name! You can make your office a beachside cabana or a hip coffee shop in a bustling city.

        And when you’re working from anywhere and going everywhere, you’ll need the right work bag that’ll keep up with your busy schedule. From Zoom meetings to getting to the gym to let off some steam after you clock out for the day. 

        At AP Bags, we have all the right men’s work bags to get you through a tough deadline or a long layover — and everywhere in between. 

        Your bag is the last thing you should worry about as you start your freelance journey. Let us help you pick the right one. 

        Discover the best men’s bags for work and travel >

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