On the whole, this is a pretty good time to be a freelancer. Steady work with a specific employer has fallen out of fashion following the disastrous consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and companies trying to rebuild in the midst of myriad global recessions are understandably reluctant to hire full-time staff they might not be able to afford.
The biggest contributing factor, though, is clearly the remarkable rise in acceptance of remote working. Visiting offices has always been an inconvenience for freelancers, and now it’s become a rarity: in many industries, there’s simply no need for employers and employees to meet.
If you want to go into business for yourself, there are plenty of options available (and no one to stop you). That said, the competition is fierce. Marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork have brought all forms of freelancing into the gig economy, pushing people to do more to get noticed.
Since freelancers often lower their prices and promise more to set themselves apart, it can be extremely tough to achieve substantial profit margins. If you want to make decent money, you need to curtail your spending — and in this post, we’re going to look at four cost-cutting measures for freelancers. Let’s get to them:
Depending on the industry, getting into freelancing can be extremely expensive purely due to the equipment requirement. Photographers need to invest in high-quality cameras, graphic designers require excellent drawing tablets, and musicians need the various instruments and components that go into home studios — and then there’s the importance of updating that equipment over time, because it’s hard to compete when you’re using outdated tools.
This is why it’s totally unnecessary to buy things new. A cared-for camera will be just as good after a year of steady use, and there are plenty of sites around that sell second-hand cameras for significantly less than they’d cost if new. Some scratches and scuff marks won’t matter at all provided the lenses and internals are in good condition.
And instead of paying several thousand for a top-end business laptop, you can pick up a refurbished machine: this is particularly viable with well-designed products like Apple computers (buying a used MacBook is a great option if you know how to verify quality — I suggest using a guide for advice if you’re interested in learning how to rate refurbished MacBooks).
It’s easy for a freelancer to get into the habit of signing up for SaaS tools. After all, they need to personally deal with so many tasks that it can get overwhelming, and anything that promises to make things easier is surely worth trying. The problem here is that many free trials will automatically turn into paid subscriptions when they expire.
You can also pay for a tool that you need for one specific project, then forget to cancel that subscription when that project is finished. One subscription won’t completely sabotage your financial management, but subscriptions add up. Take the time to go through all your recurring payments to check where your money is going — and if it’s going towards something you don’t need, cancel it immediately.
It isn’t just your work-related spending that you should get under control. How much money do you spend on food and drink during the average workweek? Many people have become extremely stressed this year (for good reason, of course), and it’s very common to spend heavily on food as a stress reliever — ordering pizza every day, for instance.
Here’s the thing, though: someone who still works a 9-to-5 office gig might not find it very convenient to prepare their own meals. They get up, commute, get through their day, then commute back home, leaving them extremely tired. As a result, they don’t have the energy to cook. They just want someone to bring them something satisfying to eat, even if it’s unhealthy.
Since you’re a freelancer, you have a much more flexible schedule. Not only do you not need to commute, but you also get to set your own hours. Take advantage by ordering supplies in bulk and preparing your own food. That way you’ll know what’s in your meals, and you’ll cut down on grocery spending by a huge amount (allowing you to save more money from your work).
Conventional wisdom states that you get what you pay for, leading people to think that the tools you pay for are inevitably the best ones. This isn’t true, though. They often are the best, but it’s far from guaranteed, and there are some free tools out there that are just as good as those you’d need to pay for. If you can use free tools, why bother paying?
Look at something like Google Docs as opposed to Microsoft’s Office apps. If you only need to write the occasional document, there’s no point in paying for a comprehensive Office solution: instead, just use the free tier of Google Docs and save your money for things that are more important in your case.
If you need help forming a company to officially start your business, there are plenty of options for the cheapest LLC formation.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses, along with providing inspirational advice for self-employed entrepreneurs. Visit the blog for the latest micro biz news and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.