The Freelancer’s Survival Guide, Part One: The Basics

Oct 23, 2017 | Stephen Jackson

So you’ve decided to step out on your own and lead the glamorous life of a freelancer. Kudos to you! While there are certainly lessons to learn in the way of staying sane while working from home, there are also a few important things you need to take care of right away if you’ve recently stepped off the raft.

Consider what follows a survival guide of sorts. Of course, mileage may vary depending on your scenario (there are thousands of them out there, from cat catchers to baby-name consultants) but I think most of these are pretty universal for anyone looking to strike it rich the old-fashioned way.

Figure Out Healthcare

If you’re working as a contract employee from gig to gig, you may want to pay attention to what’s going on with Obamacare. For now, it looks like it’s here to stay — which is a boon for you. However, with funding being cut from enrollment outreach programs there’s a chance you might miss some important news and deadlines. Be sure to check in with your state provider and get all the information you need in order to sign up for premium assistance. In some cases, such as Medi-Cal in California, it can even be free.

Make a Website

Here’s one thing that I dragged my feet on when I first started out. I’m not sure what it was, but I just had some mental block preventing me from building a website. Don’t be like me. You should be developing a plan to make your own site well before you’re off on your own. No matter what it is you do for a living, a personal website is pretty much as essential as a resume these days.

I built my site using Wordpress, but there are tons of options out there, depending on how much you want to spend and/or how much you want to build it yourself. Some of the more popular ones are Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.

Use Your (Inter)Networking Skills to Find Jobs

This one is key. Don’t think that job boards are only looking for full-time employees. Oftentimes there are tons of postings for part-time, one-off, and remote employment opportunities. No matter what your hustle is, you need to have a steady thing that’s keeping the lights on. We’ve got a good list here, but don’t sleep on things like Google Job Alerts and get your resume up on other career sites like Glassdoor, AppleOne, Careerbuilder, and LinkedIn.

Of course, it should go without saying that your LinkedIn profile needs to be dialed in as well. If it isn’t, stop reading this and go do that.

Look into Co-Working Spaces (If You’re Into That Kind of Thing)

For some, a big part of the Freelance Dream is to finally get out of an office setting and have the day to themselves. Working from home can be lonely, but on the other hand you’ve got to justify the cost of renting out a workspace in one of the many co-working hubs that have popped up in recent years.

If you do crave that environment, there are tons of options, and some folks swear by them. I have a friend who runs The Restorative Justice Fund, a nonprofit focused on criminal justice reform out of a WeWork in LA, and he loves it. In fact, he got a great deal because they were trying to attract a diverse group of organizations.

Another popular co-working space is [ImpactHub])(, but there are tons of small-time operations in most major cities, and a quick Google search will point you in the right direction.