wo years ago, friends of us went to Cape Town for a month during Winter to work from there and we spontaneously decided to join them.
Having the freedom to just work from the other side of the world has always been a dream of ours but this was the first time we made an actual choice towards a different lifestyle. We often get questions on that kind of topic and how it’s possible that our friends and us work from so many different places. In this article, you'll find the answers.
There are many different ways to achieve a lifestyle that allows you to work from anywhere, we actually wrote a whole blog post about that topic. One way though is to go freelance instead of being employed. This is a switch that many of our friends made after several years of working successfully in start-ups, company builders or agencies. As for Marina, in 2017 she decided to become self-employed as a digital product designer after having gained about 6 years of experience in this field of work.
Below, we answered all the questions we received from you on Instagram. We hope this helps you better understand the whole “freelancing thing” and thus know one more option that you might have for your own career and lifestyle.
As a freelancer, like already stated above, you will be self-employed, which means you will not work for a specific employer long-term. Usually, you will offer specific services to a client which are based on your skillset or past experience.
In most cases, as a freelancer you won’t have any employees. However, it’s likely that over time, you’ll build your own network of freelancers around you to get access to more projects or even collaborate on bigger ones. Typically, you will get paid by the hour or by the day, but there are also alternative pricing methods (e.g. project based or outcome based).
As a freelancer, you can theoretically choose where you work from, although depending on the industry and the client, you may be required to work at the office of your client.
Mostly, freelancers are working in the culture and creative industries, which include the following:
It very much depends on your level of expertise and your network of potential clients. First, the more skilled and experienced you are, the more value you can create for your client and hence, the more the client will be willing to pay. Second, the more contacts you have in your industry, the more likely you will find projects to work on.
That being said, most freelancers that we know slowly progress into this state of work. They usually gain experience in their field when being employed. This is also the place where they make first business contacts that may eventually lead to additional projects. So they start earning money on the side while still being employed and once they feel more confident, they quit their job and become a full-time freelancer.
One thing to keep in mind: it’s necessary to have saved some money on your bank account to stay flexible in cases like late payments or a longer period without projects.
Since you’re mostly paid for the time you put in (given you generate good output), your earnings are driven and limited by the three factors:
Let’s break it down...
The more you work, the more you can earn. It may sound like a nice freedom to have, but for some people this becomes pretty stressful, in two directions: First, this feeling that if you don’t work a few hours, you’re wasting time since you’re not earning money. Second, you may accept so many projects that you’ll end up overworking yourself.
Another aspect of your time is that when calculating your hourly/daily rate, you need to consider that you won’t be able to work every day of the week throughout the year. You’ll want to take time off, you’ll be sick, you’ll be spending 30% of your time on unpaid work (e.g. admin, pitching to prospects, updating your own website etc.).
When it comes to finding your own value, you will have to think about two things:
For example, working on an important company strategy that helps the client to generate much more revenue in the future will be of very high value to the client, whereas designing a flyer for an in-house company event will be of low value.
Demand for your skill:
Depending on the industry, the demand of your skill can be very different. For example, as digital companies are growing, more and more people are looking for freelancers that are experienced in this field.
To summarize, the amount you can earn depends on the above factors, but there are also some industry standards that you can refer to. To give you a rough idea of how a daily rate could look like, here are some examples in Germany:
The best (and easiest) time to start is usually when you’re experienced enough, already have contacts within the industry and also feel confident about being self-employed.
Of course you can always start earlier, it might just be tougher because there’s not so much you can build upon. Our own freelance experience – and that of our friends – was pretty seamless, since most of us went freelance after having spent several years in different companies. As we already had a network, we got asked almost immediately to work on projects.
To minimize your risks, you could try to find longer projects as a start so that you can calculate with a somewhat steady income. For instance, Marina’s first project was with Zalando over a period of 8 months. The project’s workload varied, so she was involved from two to five days per week.