Though freelancing has grown in popularity in nearly every industry, it can be especially risky for home design professionals. After all, designing a home from the ground up is a personal and often expensive process. Professionals who venture into independent contracting must be prepared to invest time and capital into the venture. Working for yourself requires that you are willing to take risks and have a personal stake in your business. Whether you are currently employed as an interior designer, real estate agent or another home design professional, freelancing can expand your available work opportunities as well as create new income streams. The following pros and cons of working for yourself will help you evaluate if this career path is right for you.
Pros of Freelancing for Yourself
The first pro of freelancing for yourself is that you can work when and where you want. If you have an interior design business, you can work from home and set your own hours. If you work for a design firm, you may need to adhere to their office hours and a dress code. If you wish to travel, you can take your laptop with you and work remotely. Remote work is growing in popularity, and many companies prefer hiring freelancers who are not tied to a desk. Other pros to freelancing for yourself include being your own boss, setting your own rates, creating your own schedule and having the opportunity to diversify your income by taking on additional work from friends, family and colleagues. Still, there are cons to freelancing for yourself. First, you are responsible for your own taxes, retirement savings and health insurance. Designers who work for themselves must budget for these expenses and often times, they are not reimbursed. Additionally, clients may be less likely to hire a designer who does not work for a company. Individuals may be more hesitant to enter into a contract with an independent contractor, as opposed to one employed by an established firm.
Cons of Freelancing for Yourself
Like all careers, freelancing for yourself has its share of cons. The most significant con of freelancing is that you are responsible for your own business expenses, including health insurance and retirement savings. This can be difficult for designers who don’t have a steady flow of cash coming in. Another con of being your own boss is that you are responsible for finding work. Designers who work for themselves need to be proactive and find clients. You must be willing to put yourself out there and network as well as run effective advertising and marketing campaigns. Additionally, freelancing for yourself can be risky. Contracts are essential and designers must protect themselves from shoddy work. Individuals who hire you must sign a contract, outlining the scope of work, payment schedule and due date. However, freelancing for yourself offers more freedom and more opportunities for success. Working for yourself allows you to pursue more types of work, which in turn, leads to greater income potential.
Networking and Referrals
Freelancers who work for themselves must be willing to network and actively seek out work. You should attend business mixers, join industry associations and form partnerships with other designers and clients. If you are new to the business, forming relationships with people who have a track record of hiring and referring people in the industry can help you get started. You can ask clients and colleagues who are happy with your work to recommend you to others. You should also be prepared to give back in return. If you know other design professionals in your area, you can offer to help them out by giving them referrals to potential clients. While networking can be a challenge, it can also be rewarding. You may meet new people and find new clients, while also becoming part of a supportive community. Consider joining a networking group such as B.IN Group, an organization exclusively for interior designers.
Additional Investment in Advertising and Marketing
If you are freelancing for yourself, you need to be prepared to invest in advertising and marketing. While some design companies will include this in their retainer fee, designers who work for themselves must cover these expenses themselves. This can be expensive, but fortunately, technology has made it much cheaper than it used to be. Advertising and marketing can include everything from blogging about design trends and industry news to purchasing social media ads, hosting free webinars and buying discounted ad space on home design websites. Consider hiring a designer to create your website, logo and additional marketing materials. Investing in these items helps to brand you as a professional and gives you a strong online presence. You can also host free or inexpensive events where you host guest speakers or offer design workshops or seminars. Hosting an event has the dual benefit of providing content for your website while also drawing attention to your business.
Freelancing for yourself can be a lucrative and rewarding career path. While this is an ideal career for people who are self-motivated and have the financial resources to invest in the business, designers who work for themselves can find more work opportunities and create a diverse income source through side projects. Freelancers who work for themselves should be prepared to invest in advertising and marketing, as well as have a personal stake in their business.