The world of freelancing is enticing to many young people today, and it’s not very hard to see why; you get to be your own boss, you will have financial independence, you can work when you want to and relax at other times. Sounds great, right? Well unfortunately things are never as easy as they sound; being a freelancer is hard work, you are constantly going to be pushing yourself, there will be times when you are struggling to find work, and then try as you might to avoid it, you will probably take on too many jobs at one time. If you are willing to put in the time and effort being a freelancer can be one of the most rewarding jobs you’ll ever have, especially if you decide to freelance for the Catholic Church.
So how do you get started? Well we’ve gathered some useful tips for you to consider before you actually go out there and try to make it on your own. Please keep in mind you are going to have to do a lot of trial and error with some of these tips, but eventually you fill find a flow that works great for you!
- Brand yourself – As a freelancer you are essentially a one person business, and businesses need a brand. You should create a website, make yourself some business cards, have an area of expertise. You will need to have a portfolio for your potential customers to look at, examples of your previous work. If you do not have any previous work you can show, make something up. If you are a freelance web designer make a few dummy websites, if you are a writer write a few articles on various topics or consider starting a blog.
- Have a pitch– practice your elevator pitch, link to our elevator pitch article, have a different pitch for those who are more familiar with your specialty and those who do not know much about it
- Networking– Not many people like networking, but it is imperative when you are just starting out. Going to networking events is a great way to get your name out there to other professionals, many of whom are also starting out and are in need of assistance. It is essential for you to follow up with the people you meet at these kinds of events, even if they do not need your assistance at that very moment there most likely will be something you can help them with in the future. If you feel like networking is not for you take a look at our Networking Tips for Beginners article for some useful advice.
- Start looking for work– You can approach this from several different angles; there are a multitude of websites you can visit to find gigs as a freelancer such as Craigslist or Upwork, but you will be up against hundreds of other freelancers for the same jobs. Try starting limiting your search, look for websites focusing on your specialty, or if you’re in the market for a Catholic gig start here at CatholicGigs! We want to be your resource for Catholic freelance work wherever you may be. We also recommend when you are just starting out to visit local small businesses or parishes you know and see if they are in need of your services. Speak to the owner or manager and offer your services, tell them how you believe your work will help their business.
- Know your worth– Don’t sell yourself short, doing work for free or cheap is a good idea so you can build your portfolio, but make sure your clients know that the lower price is only temporary, you are offering discounts as you are just starting up. Look at the rates for other freelancers in your specialty, you should know how much value you are worth compared to others in your field. Do keep in mind that many Catholic businesses are nonprofit and may not be able to pay as much as secular businesses, but do your best to come up with a reasonable price that will be a win for everyone involved.
- Manage your invoices– One of the most tedious and time consuming parts of being a freelancer is actually getting paid. You need to be clear of your expectations from the get go. You need to understand that many of the businesses you are working with, especially when you are beginning, are run by a limited staff. Small business owners are busy trying to run their business, when they are not meeting scheduled payment dates it is most likely not because they are not willing to pay you, but more often than not they have simply forgot. In an ideal world you would get paid when you were told you were going to be paid, but that is not always the case even in the Catholic business world.
- Be prepared for tax season– If this is the first time you are not going to be a W2 employee then be prepared, you will want to save receipts for all of your expenses you accrue for your gigs throughout the year. Taxes are most likely going to hit you harder than they did before as a W2 employee, you will want to save a portion of every payout in preparation.
There has been a massive explosion of freelancers in the workforce today, and by 2020 freelancers are expected to make up 50% of the workforce. Keep in mind that you will be up against many other people when looking for work, so do not try and spread your skills thin. Find a specialty and stick with it. Be prepared for the trials you will face as a freelancer, and do not let yourself get too comfortable when you are fortunate enough to be bringing in lots of clients.