If you’re new to the freelancing world and have questions about how to run a successful business, then you’ve come to the right place. I started freelancing 5 years ago, and have experienced many of the benefits of having a freelance, as well as many of the hardships that can go along with it. In this article, I will give you 5 tips to help you become a successful freelancer.

1. Manage Your Time Wisely

One of the biggest myths about being a freelancer is that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Although freelancing has a major flexibility benefit, the truth is, if you don’t manage your time wisely and tackle projects sooner rather than later, then it could cost you your clients. It’s easy to get distracted, especially when you’re working from home. The easiest way to avoid these distractions, and to make the most of your day, is by writing out a schedule first thing in the morning.

Yes, it may seem old school, but the truth is, if you sit down first thing in the morning and write out everything you wish to accomplish, and a timetable to go along with it, your day will very productive. Order your projects by importance and time sensitivity, and as you complete those projects, mark them off the list. I start my day by brewing a cup of hot tea and then writing out my schedule while it’s steeping. By the time my daily dose of caffeine is ready to go, so is my day.

2. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Yes, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” is a very southern phrase. But, it’s also the first lesson and perhaps the most important, that I was taught by my mentors when I first began freelancing. The only consistent thing about freelancing work is that it’s very inconsistent. You may have a client for several years straight, or for only a few days. Because freelancers aren’t considered employees, they’re not guaranteed a long-term or steady position. That’s why it’s better to have several smaller clients than to have one big one. That way, if you lose one client, you have a few remaining that you can make income off of. If you just have one big client, and that client drops you for one reason or another, you could potentially suffer financially until you replace that client.

3. Prepare for Tax Season

Getting ready for tax season is something new freelancers often forget to take into account. As a freelancer or contractor, you are responsible for paying taxes out of pocket. We don’t get taxed until the end of the year, and if you’ve done well in your business, then those taxes can come as a bit of a shock. The best way to be prepared for tax season is to consistently take a percentage out of every paycheck you receive and set it aside just for taxes. If you don’t, it can be difficult to pay those taxes at the end of the year. Also, don’t forget to hang on to all of your receipts! As a freelancer, there are deductions available to help you and your business. Keep track of your spending, and do your research on what expenses you can claim at the end of the year.

4. Don’t Quit Your Day Job

If you’re just starting out in the freelancing world, don’t jump completely in until you know for sure that you have enough lines of income to support you and your family. Freelancing isn’t easy, but it can be a lot less stressful going into, if you know that you have a steady paycheck coming in. Once you begin making a more consistent flow of income through your business and make enough to replace your current job, then you can start to think about freelancing full time.

5. Market Yourself

When you decide to venture away from your desk job, you need to be confident in telling people that you’re looking to do freelancing work. You’ll be surprised how quickly the word of mouth will go, and the clients that you’ll receive just from the people you know. It’s also important to represent yourself, and business accurately through LinkedIn, Facebook, and any other social media account. Remember, as a freelancer, you’re not just marketing your services, you’re marketing yourself.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. When you’re just starting out as a freelancer, you’re going to run into projects and situations that you may not know how to handle. Worst case, you can always go back to a traditional job, best case, you’ll never have to.  Work hard, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

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