Jan 19, 2021

When we think of freelancers, we think of laptop-wielding digital nomads typing away on an exotic beach somewhere or we think of young professionals who hop from one coffee shop to the next, meeting with different clients weekly. While there’s truth to that, given that the major benefit of the gig economy is flexibility, there is so much more to a freelancing career. You can’t escape dealing with taxes, hard clients, and long hours—being a freelancer is akin to running a business by yourself. But if you do it right, you can create your dream work/life situation.

As a freelancer, you should be prepared to not just focus on your specialization, but also to act as your own manager, have some grasp of business accounting, expand your network, and other such responsibilities.

These are just some of the roles you need to take on in order to properly manage your freelancing career like a real business. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to help you turn your freelancing gigs into a well-oiled machine—and run things like a CEO. Here are some of those tools and tips to treat your freelance career as business.

Leverage Work/Business Apps
There’s a slew of online apps and sites that can help you juggle everything you need to do. For instance, Trello is a popular app for project management, and for time tracking, Toggl can let you monitor how long it takes to finish specific tasks. You can take the information from both to optimize your pricing and project management for future work. There are fintech apps like Tide, Coconut, or QuickBooks to help organize invoices, taxes, and everything else that has to do with accounting. The best part is you can do all of this from your laptop. Nowadays, the Internet can provide freelancers with almost everything they need to manage a business alone.

Prioritize Networking
It’s hard to be a successful freelancer if you don’t know how to talk to, connect, and do business with other people. In a comprehensive study led by the University of Antwerp’s Department of Management, networking has been found to be essential not just for business contacts, but for the personal fulfillment and employability of freelancers as well. In the age of social media, emails, texts, and video calls, you can reach out to the right clients, suppliers, and fellow freelancers faster than ever before. While there are many nuances to networking, the key to doing it right is to always be polite, honest about what you’re willing to bring to the table, and genuine in trying to help others achieve their own business goals. While remote networking presents new challenges, it has generally made it easier to network today, given how the world’s vital industries are migrating online. Even remote or online business classes are good places to find like-minded freelancers or entrepreneurs, which brings us to our next tip.

Take Online Business Classes
Taking business classes can help you in ways that no apps can. And if you don’t have the time to attend in-person or live classes, there are a variety of not just courses, but actual business degrees that you can take from home. And don’t worry about online degrees not being as valid as traditional degrees, as top institutions across the state now provide dedicated online programs. Today, top online and physical academic institutions across the country now provide dedicated online programs at different levels. The online business administration degree at Maryville University includes both bachelor’s and master’s programs that are 100% web-based courses. Students are honed in professional business competencies like accounting, marketing, and business administration. Furthermore, the programs are also designed to be paired with the university’s other online degrees in cybersecurity, health administration, and business data analytics. These Higher Learning Commission-accredited courses can provide you with the necessary skills to become a competent and business-inclined freelancer in the age of digital transformation. Google also launched a recent which provides free online learning in many digital careers.

Similarly, prestigious brick-and-mortar universities like Clarkson University in New York and the University of Wisconsin are designing their own online business administration degrees in the same interdisciplinary fashion. And given the flexible scheduling afforded by distanced learning, you can finish any of these degree programs while working from home.

These are just some of the ways freelancers can transition towards a more professional and business-conducive approach to growing their careers. With these resources at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever before to start managing your freelancing career like a proper business.

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