Freelance, digital nomad, digital maker, remote worker… Different names with the same goal: freedom. Working or studying on your own might be appealing but before going solo, there are some questions you should ask yourself — and answer honestly — to be prepared for the challenge. Disclaimer: It may include more struggles than a picture of yourself working on a beachside with the copy “Today’s office”.
Are you realistic about what being a freelancer means?
If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like or have to deal with a team that you don’t get along with, freelancing might sound like a miracle cure: it allows you to work from the convenience and safety of wherever you want.
Be careful though. Being your own boss has as many downsides as perks. You will not only be a developer or a designer, you’ll also be your own CEO, accountant, salesperson… So you’ll have to balance among many duties that go beyond the nature of your job. And the question is: Is freedom more important to you than stability?
Is there something valuable only you can do?
This is a prerequisite that an alarming number of people seem to overlook. The first thing you need to do to become a digital maker is, as the name suggests, be able to make something digitally. Can you…
Build a website from scratch?
Design life-enhancing products?
Identify patterns in numbers that no one else can see?
If you’re not certain on what your craft is yet, do some soul searching, read this eye-opening post “How to pick a career (that actually fits you)” and identify what you want to focus on. Data Analytics, UX/UI Design, Web Development… Whatever you want. Learning remotely will give you already a fairly good impression of what it means to work in a remote environment.
Can You Learn Freelance Skills Online?
Even though there are no specific skills to become a freelancer, the best investment you could ever make is on learning new skills online. All you need to have is the will, determination and organization to learn and work on your own. Learning either soft or hard skills is a never ending process, and luckily, there is a wide variety of tools and courses available online that will help you get used to the remote environment. That will complement what you already do as a freelancer and will eventually create new opportunities to make a living. If you are wondering what’s the main difference between an online course and a remote bootcamp, we recommend you to read this post in which we analyze the main differences between these two.
Are you experienced enough to work on your own?
If you already know what your craft is and already have some experience doing it, do not relax, there’s still a long road ahead. Many bootcamp students come with the idea of freelancing right after they graduate, and unless they have a lot of previous experience, it’s not advisable to do so. Working in a team, either remotely or in-person, will help you improve faster. Even if your final goal is to work solo, don’t rush. Take the time to hone your skills and learn as much as you can from your mentors.
Do you know enough potential clients?
Another advantage of working for another company before you start your own project is that you’ll have the opportunity to network and meet potential clients and partners before you need them. Once you start your business, you’ll need somebody to hire your services and nobody probably will if they don’t know you or trust you. Want to accelerate this process? Attend meetups, conferences, workshops… and make the most of your community and alumni network.
If you want to start practicing with some real freelance jobs, these websites might help you get started.
Can you afford to go freelance?
Having a desk in the coolest coworking in town and having the most eye-catching business cards is great… And expensive. Don’t splurge on unnecessary things until you have secured a few stable clients. If your current job allows, a good idea might be to start freelancing as a side business and only quit your job once you have enough clients to make a living on your own. There’s even a calculator to know when can you go full time with your side project.
Read about the experiences of people who have done it, talk to real freelancers and digital nomads, and, most important of all, take the time to consider if this is really what you want or just an escape from what you don’t.
And, if remote freelancing sounds like your gig, use your time wisely to learn as much as you can so you can provide the real value your clients will be seeking.