Becoming Self-Employed: My 5 Biggest Learnings So Far
My oh my, this has been a long awaited topic on my list to cover. I get questions about self-employment and blogging ALL the time, and I truly love helping out to the best of my ability. I'm in this with the rest of you - If what I've learned can help a few of you take the next steps towards pursuing your dreams, then count me in!
So, here is what I've learned since becoming fully self-employed:
Quitting your job is not the end of the world.
I've left two different jobs without anything lined up - The first time was to travel to Nicaragua for my yoga teacher training. The second time was to work for myself... and here I am. No one should ever fear leaving a job or losing a job. Both happen, and it's more than okay. It might seem scary, but it's really not that big of a deal. You can find a new job if self-employment isn't working out for you.
Expect to work 10x harder.
When you're on your own, you set the pace, you set the rules. Going into self-employment, it's easy to assume you'll have more time since you make the schedule. However, I'm here to tell you this isn't true. In fact, it's the opposite. BECAUSE you're responsible for keeping you and your business afloat, you'll quickly learn that time is SO valuable.
It's easy to get lost in the self-employment grind when you whole-heartedly love what you do. But, don't forget, burn out looks good on no one and shouldn't be worn like badge of honor. I'm all about hustling from a place of peace rather than urgency and fear. It's far more sustainable and lucrative for my business. Download my FREE Healthy Hustle Workbook, and get 5 actionable tips to find that healthy work flow.
Productivity is more important than ever before. Let technology help you.
If you're a master procrastinator, you'll figure out pretty quickly that waiting until the last minute will only cause you unnecessary stress. Get comfortable using the Google suite (drive, docs, sheets, and calendar), Dropbox, and apps like Trello and Toggl. I use Google Calendar for all of my meetings (even personal), and I use it to block out time for my daily to-do lists (Example: 9am-10am - Write Blog Post on Self-Employment).
Photo by Victoria Jane Photography
You'll become a master at managing your finances.
YES, you will! This is the biggest concern I get from most of you. Well, let's start with a Google excel sheet. I track, categorize, and calculate all of my income. When you're a freelancer, you have money coming in from every which way, and especially for bloggers there are a lot of one-off jobs and W-9's galore. Write it down, keep your receipts, and download Quickbooks Self-Employed (here).
3 More Important Finance Tips:
Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN #) - This way you don't have to give out your social security number to a bajillion random companies. It takes 10 minutes (here's a link).
Get a separate biz account - This is going to help you immensely when it's tax time. You must file quarterly taxes if you're self-employed, so ALWAYS put money aside for taxes. Also, BLOGGERS: you have to pay taxes on all of the gifts you receive (if you post about it). So, even if you're not getting paid, you still need to file it as income. Consider this when you accept free products.
Hire an accountant - This is my first year filing as self-employed, and I don't want to mess that shiz up. So, I hired an accountant to handle the taxes. Golden rule: If it's not your zone of genius, then outsource it.
You have the ability to make more $$$ than in your 9-5.
Well, maybe not at first. There's a lot of adjusting in the beginning, but you will find your flow in a few months.
When you have a salary, you know how much you're getting every pay cycle - that number doesn't change until you get a raise, which can be VERY frustrating if you feel overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. With self-employment, you set your rates. You decide what your time is worth based on the scope of the project, and you CHOOSE to either take on a project or not.
The key to finding longevity in this business and making more money is to lock in longterm contracts, diversifying your revenue streams, and growing your platform. You shouldn't be breaking your back and working longer hours, but instead working smarter.