Leaving Work Behind

3 Elements for Finding Stability as a Freelancer

Written by Alexander Cordova on March 7, 2017. 6 Comments

A woman meditating.

For a lot of freelancers, making as much money as possible in the least amount of time is often the main goal. I’m not going to lie and say money isn’t something I think about often, but there’s one thing that attracts me even more – long-term stability.

When you grow up in a crazy country where life conducts itself like a soap opera, you come to value security quite a bit. That’s why I’ve made it my goal over the past few years to not only make enough money to be comfortable, but to gain a solid footing in my overall work life.

Stability may sound like a foreign term to many freelancers – particularly those of you starting off. In this post, I’ll firstly discuss what economic stability looks like and how to know when you’re there, then offer three steps you can use to find it.

Let’s get started!

How to Know When You’ve Reached Economic Stability as a Freelancer

Nailing down a term such as ‘financial stability’ can be tricky. After all, what I consider to be a sound financial position might be terrible from your point of view. However, figuring out what this state means for you is important, since it’ll give you a clear goal to work towards. Once you’re there, you’ll know you’re in a good position and you’ll be able to tackle your work more comfortably.

As for me, here’s what a stable economic situation looks from my point of view:

  1. Having at least three months of savings in the bank (but more is always welcome!). This gives me some wiggle room in case I have a slow business month.
  2. Enough work lined up for at least a month or two in advance. Anything beyond that is a bit overkill, depending on what type of operation you’re running. Generally speaking, if you’re booked for a couple of months, you’re probably doing pretty well for yourself.
  3. Having some money set aside for emergencies, and not just medical ones. I work in front of a computer all day, and because it’s so integral to my day-to-day work, I keep a backup fund in case I need to replace any crucial hardware

I’m pretty confident that if you meet all three criteria at a minimum, you’re probably on good footing. However, there’s always room for improvement, so let’s consider some additional elements for financial stability.

3 Elements for Finding Stability as a Freelancer

Once you feel relatively stable financially, you’re ready to tackle some power tactics! The good news is that they’re all easy enough to implement. Let’s take a look at a classic technique up front.

1. Develop a Passive Income

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better type of revenue than a passive one. After all, what could be more rewarding than to do a job and continue reaping its benefits over the long term?

If you’re a freelancer, you’re probably more attracted to the idea of passive income due to only having a finite amount of time to earn money. With a passive income stream, there’s potentially no ceiling to what you can earn. There are other benefits too – for example:

  1. Having access to a passive income means you won’t just be draining your savings if you happen upon a slow business month.
  2. Depending on which type of passive business model you opt for, you may be able to showcase it as part of your portfolio (such as an e-book, for example).

There are plenty of ways to go about creating a decent passive income, but ultimately you should something suitable based on your area of expertise. For example, since I’m a writer who also develops websites, I could create long-form tutorials and sell them as e-books using an automated website.

2. Nurture a Support Community

Every freelancer should have access to a support community – a group of your peers who get together regularly and shoot the breeze about your line of work. However, they’re more than just a chinwag. They can help you find ways to improve your own business, and provide a sounding board for your ideas. Aside from helping you relax, staying in touch with other freelancers can also benefit your work in the long term. Here’s how:

  1. Some of your clients might be looking for freelancers in other fields, and you can recommend friends who fit the bill. This, of course, works both ways!
  2. You might be able to share your expertise for personal projects with the other members of your group.

Finding an existing group could be difficult depending on your location, niche, and needs. In these cases, your best bet might be to create your own group either online, or in the real world. I’ve had good success by using my coworking space as a networking hub, as well as scouring freelance blogs (like this one!) and forums for good opportunities. Finally, social media networks such as Facebook are well-suited to starting a virtual support group, and aren’t bound by location or time restraints.

3. Keep an Eye Out for Better Opportunities

Even if you’re comfortable with your position as a freelancer, that doesn’t mean there’s zero room for improvement. I’m not just talking about money either – chances are you’ll always be able to find new and exciting job opportunities.

Aside from monetary rewards, there are a number of other perks in seeking out better work. For example:

  1. You may be paid more to do less work, which of course means shorter working hours.
  2. It goes without saying that if you’re paid more and working less, your stress levels will decrease.

Overall you should consider whether your current working life is viable. After all, what’s the point of making tons of cash if you have to spend day after day working in a frenzy?

Regardless of your current position, you should always keep an eye out for exciting new gigs. While there are plenty of ways to find more work, I’ve found job boards to be a superb option when it comes to writing and web development, but your mileage may vary.

However, it’s important to pick out the cream of the crop when it comes to job boards, as the last thing you need is a trawl through poor quality jobs from less than desirable clients. With that in mind, I’d say you should take a look at Smashing Jobs (for the developers among you), and sites such as ProBlogger Jobs and Paid to Blog Jobs (for the writing folks!).

Conclusion

Stability – both financial and personal – is the end goal for most freelancers. After all, most of us left stable (if boring) regular jobs to look for better opportunities. That makes us risk-takers, but it doesn’t mean we’re averse to leading stable livelihoods. In fact, given the nature of freelance work, it’s arguably one of the most vital concerns you’ll have.

If you’re committed to building a stable career as a freelancer over the long term, you need to start focusing your efforts on it right away. Here are three excellent steps to get you started:

  1. Develop a passive income.
  2. Nurture a support community.
  3. Keep an eye out for better opportunities.

What do you think is the most important element to finding stability as a freelancer? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

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6 Responses to “3 Elements for Finding Stability as a Freelancer”

  1. Heather Lane
    March 20, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    As someone that has been in both the corporate setting and a freelancer, I can say that a support community is extremely important. When freelancing, it is often not the case that we receive the proper “social channels” that we do when we work at a full time job.

    This was very difficult for me. In fact, it took me years to find the proper support communities to make certain I was getting the socialization I needed. Now, as a dentist, I don’t have to worry about that as I have plenty of opportunities to get the social interactions I need.

    I absolutely love this post and will pass it along to some of my freelancer friends. Thank you very much Alexander.

    • Tom Ewer
      March 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Heather! On Alexander’s behalf, I’m glad you found this article so relevant. 🙂

  2. KAte
    April 4, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Sucha a great post

  3. Karen
    April 13, 2017 at 2:34 am

    Hey Alexander,
    Thanks for this. I’ve been doing a lot of sideline along with running a couple of businesses. I agree with your posts and the 3 points you make. A support group is something that I would have loved right from the get go for business, for blogging, and for getting more online work. I’ve got it now but if that would have been set-up at the beginning of all this it would have been much better just as a jump start. Thanks for this again.
    Cheers,

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