A Beginner’s Guide to Start Freelancing: 5 Tips for Women

A career in freelancing brings a multitude of perks for professionals, like being your own boss, managing your own schedule and the freedom to work from anywhere. It’s a growing career path and the Intuit 2020 Report estimates that contingent work is expected to exceed 40 percent of the workforce by 2020.

But women especially thrive as freelancers because they can establish their own career trajectory that’s not manipulated by gender inequities like pay, workplace sexism and sexual harassment. In fact, more than 50 percent of women happily freelance, according to Entrepreneur.

If you’re ready to career-shift toward freelancing and gain professional independence from the traditional workplace, here’s an introductory guide on taking the first steps.

Choose Your Craft and Industry

Most new freelancers already know what types of freelancing to pursue. But if you’re looking to explore all opportunities and options, one of the following may be the right fit for you: Direct selling (Amway, LuLaRoe and Roden + Fields)

· Creative services (writing, editing, blogging, design, photography, video)

· Web design and development

· Social media and digital marketing

· Consulting (event planning)

· E-commerce (Etsy where you can sell homemade crafts, clothing, jewelry, etc.)

· Small business startup and entrepreneurism

Build Your Portfolio

Freelance newbies can start to find work by first creating a portfolio, which is like a visual resume where you can showcase work that may attract companies and clients. Potential employers and clients can visit your personal website to learn more about you, your experience, skillset and services. Once you’ve create a portfolio, start to pitch, source testimonials and search for freelance gigs. Over time you can grow your network by accumulating more and more freelance experience. The goal is to eventually establish your own clientele and find more opportunities through word of mouth.

Understand Taxes

You need to treat freelancing like a business and make sure to file taxes as self-employed or an independent contractor. As an independent contractor, you’ll receive a 1099 at the end of the year from clients stating your earnings. As a paid employee, you’ll have your earnings and amount of taxes paid on your W-2. Keep in mind, you’ll be double-taxed with income and self-employment tax. Warning — underreporting or omitting income on your tax return can be easily flagged by the IRS and you’ll get hit with a penalty, owing a large amount of money. Refer to this guide for freelancing Q&A’s and start with detailed record keeping.

Join a Coworking Space

Working remotely has its advantages and disadvantages, like lack of structure, distractions and even close proximity to the fridge. Taking your work to a coworking space can eliminate interferences, while offering creative collaboration, interaction, innovation and inspiration among likeminded freelancers and entrepreneurs. These spaces are even curated exclusively to women, catering to the barriers and experiences that only women face. Women-focused coworking spaces like RISE Collaborative, The Hivery and New Women Space all provide a dynamic environment where women can feel capable, confident, validated and included.

Keep Growing

Exploring ways to build or expand your skillset can lead to more and greater opportunities. Being a multidisciplinary freelancer helps strengthen your career as you become more marketable. Grow your knowledge and skills by taking an online class or MOOC course. YouTube is another resource for tutorials and free learning. Are you a seasoned writer? Train in social media marketing. Interested in computer programming? Learn to code at a coding boot camp. Educational costs for classes and certifications in your field may even be tax deductible.

Thanks to Carol Trehearn

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