Freelancing is a great way to bring in some extra money. In fact, many have found that the contractor approach is so lucrative that they’d rather embrace it as their full-time employment than keep working a nine-to-five job.
If you’re working full-time as a freelancer, you’re probably used to the freedom and flexibility that the side gig lifestyle can have. At the same time, you’re likely aware of the dangers that come with being your own employer.
Here are a few ways that you can protect yourself in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks that come with being a freelancer.
Finances are ground zero for any career to succeed over time. When it comes to freelancing, though, the financial question can be a bit murky.
Work can dry up suddenly. It can also be hard to balance a “feast or famine” form of income.
If you want to feel more protected in your work, you need to create a stable environment — and that starts with your finances. You can do this by:
- Separating your work bank account from your personal one.
- Choosing a consistent and competent invoicing platform.
- Paying yourself below your income to create a financial buffer in your business account.
- Learning to handle things like overdue invoices with the polite confidence of a peer rather than the push-over fear of an employee.
By creating effective and consistent financial habits for your freelancing activity, you can build a framework that helps you rest easy as you move from one gig to the next.
Along with your financial activity, it’s important to consider how you spend your resources. As a freelancer, you can’t request means to cover your expenses from a big corporate budget. Whatever you spend (monetarily or otherwise) has to come from yourself.
With this in mind, regularly assess how you’re spending your resources. This includes:
- Time: Time is money. How are you allocating your limited entrepreneurial time as a freelancer?
- Cash: Are you observing your cash flow and ensuring that you have enough resources when things are tight?
- Tools: Are your freelancing tools up to date and facilitating rather than hindering your work? This applies to everything, from physical gadgets to software and everything in between.
- Creativity: Brainpower counts, as well. Are you giving yourself the time, space, and environmental factors required to maintain peak creativity?
If you want to be protected as a freelancer, make sure to consistently monitor your resources as any business owner would.
As a freelancer, you’re no longer under the “corporate thumb.” This means clients can’t control how you choose to spend your time or efforts.
Of course, that doesn’t mean every employer is going to respect that line in the sand. That’s why you should be careful to keep an eye out for scope creep — that is, the tendency (purposeful or otherwise) of a client to treat you as an employee.
You can avoid this by:
- Keeping your schedules dissonant;
- Avoiding taking same-day work whenever possible;
- Setting boundaries and communicating when they’re crossed.
It isn’t enough to know your rights as a freelancer. You also need to be able to defend them, too.
Part of the job of protecting yourself comes from keeping your clients safe, as well. If you’re reckless with client information or you don’t come through for them as promised, you can develop a bad reputation.
In order to protect your own reputation — and by extension, the longevity of your freelancing career — make sure to take steps to protect your clients.
A good example of this is client information. Many side hustles allow people to make money while on the road. While living the digital nomad life is fun, though, it can also put your client’s data at risk.
Fortunately, you can take steps to protect data while you’re traveling by doing things like:
- Backing up essential files;
- Using secure websites;
- Utilizing security tools like two-factor authentication;
- Setting up a VPN and using safe Wi-Fi networks;
- Installing virus protection on your devices.
Protecting your client’s data (and your own) is a critical way to protect yourself as a freelancer.
If you’re feeling ready to take your freelancing ventures more seriously, it’s important to start by protecting yourself.
This starts with things like creating a healthy financial framework, monitoring your resources, defending your rights, and protecting both your own and your client’s data.
Taking steps like these can help you avoid many of the pitfalls that plague the unstable, oft-insecure freelancing world.
It also sets you up with a strong framework from which you can apply your freelancing trade. This can give you a leg up over the competition as you offer safe, secure, and confident freelancing services to each and every one of your clients.