According to the 2018 Payoneer Freelancer Income Survey, freelancers now account for 35.5 percent of the EU population; that’s more than 10 million active freelancers and the number is steadily rising. With more and more workers shunning their 9-5 desk jobs, we have pulled together a rough guide based on our experience that might help manage expectations of the switch.

Discipline overrides talent

Choosing your own hours and working from bed may sound dreamlike, but can result in not much getting done at all. Implementing a daily routine and setting clear boundaries ensure you make the most of your time and achieve maximum results. Designate an area or join a co-working space and set a chunk of time that you will dedicate to work each day – this means that there are no blurred lines between work and play and less time is spent procrastinating. Eliminate background noise  – everything will take twice as long – and remember to take regular breaks to keep productivity levels high!

Self-improvement is key

One of the perks of working in an established, respected corporation is that they often invest heavily in staff training and performance reviews. When transitioning into freelance territory, be sure not not to fall behind of your peers by managing your own personal development! Make a date and set some goals and objectives and keep on track with them. Celebrate the smalls wins and be honest about the areas that need improvement; stay up to date with industry news and tools, and keep in touch with your network. There are a multitude of online resources available that are completely free – courses, webinars, TedTalks – take advantage of the digital age and absorb what you can to make sure you working to your very best abilities.

Protect your reputation

With research showing that over 80% of entrepreneurs receive most of their work through referrals, word of mouth can be a key income earner. With that in mind, strive to keep your reputation as pristine as possible! Don’t make promises you cannot keep, speak positively of others, be honest when you have made a mistake and transparent in your invoicing. Always be on time and communicate well with clients – small things that go a long way in building a solid, valuable reputation.

It is ok to say no

When starting out as a freelancer, it can be tempting to accept all work no matter how big or small, for fear of having none in the future. Be mindful of your time and watch what you are sacrificing to complete assignments. Whilst putting the hours in is key in building any small business, a lack of sleep – for example – can have a direct effect on the quality of your work, which could lose you business in the long run. And be sure to maintain and enjoy your personal time, otherwise what’s the point?

Embrace the uncertainty

The world of freelancing is fraught with highs and lows, but it does become easier over time. Failures occur but these are often the stepping stones to greater things, and at the very least serve as a good lesson. Embrace the knowledge that the future is unknown, but if you can make it work, it is a rewarding and worthwhile career that you can shape in whichever way you like, and – ultimately – nothing beats being your own boss. Enjoy!

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