What I Wish I'd Known Before I Went Freelance

illustrated by Hannah Minn.
Up until last year, I was a freelancer for four years. It was a career path I kind of fell into; I love to travel, value my freedom of movement, and revel in the ability to be creative and explore a spectrum of crafts, tasks, and projects.
When I first started working as a freelancer, I was scared. While, on one hand, I saw a limitless path stretching out in front of me, I also had a lot of questions: How does billing work? How do you do your taxes? What makes a good contract? What about healthcare? And saving for retirement?
Of course, many of the answers to these questions were learned the hard way. And, while there are many logistical things I wish I'd known before I started working as a freelancer, there are also innumerable things I wish I'd known about myself before I started; for example, that my work is valuable and that no client is 'doing me a favor' by hiring me.
It's a well-documented fact that freelancers regularly struggle to be treated fairly in the professional world. Though the gig economy is booming, the prevalence of freelancers doesn't necessarily translate into fair treatment. Invoices are regularly left ignored or unpaid, there are no such thing as sick days, and health care comes straight from your own pocket.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all secret to being a good freelancer; it depends heavily on your industry, level of experience, and countless other personal traits. But, one thing is for certain: You'll be in a much better position if you take the time to hear from those who've been at it for a while.
We spoke to six freelancers from different industries to shed some light on their biggest challenges, lessons learned, and, most of all, what they wish they had known when they first started. Read on to learn more.

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