Those considering a switch to freelancing are most likely tempted by the appeal of a flexible work schedule coupled with a potential for higher earnings. But as Forbes contributor Laura Shin explains, freelancing isn't always white beaches and palm trees. Work opportunities and income can be erratic beasts that must be prepared for ahead of time. Here are some of Shin's recommendations for those intent on making the leap:

Think of Freelancing as Starting Your Own Business

Just as with any other business venture, Shin explains you have to think like an entrepreneur:

"If you don’t adopt a business mindset, you may end up worrying so much about your finances that you don’t even have the mental space to focus on your yoga teaching or coding or designing. Setting up systems in place to keep the business going will free up time and energy for you to focus on your actual work."

She recommends making sure your finances are in order before making the switch. This includes amassing an emergency fund, having a retirement plan, signing up for disability/medical insurance, and readying your "startup savings" account. Remember: businesses have to be ready to spend up front before they can make the money back.

Market Early and Market Often

No one's going to know you've started your own business if you launch without any sort of fanfare. Make sure you have a website and portfolio before making the announcement. Begin with a transitional period where you moonlight as a freelancer. Allow your network to grow organically before quitting your full-time job.

Run Your Business Like a Business

You have to be comfortable being your own CEO, COO, and CFO:

"As you’ll quickly discover, taxes are a pain when you’re a freelancer. There are a few ways you can make them easier for yourself, such as having a separate savings, checking and credit card solely for business expenses."

It's a good idea to hire an accountant who specializes in freelancers so as to get the most out of your money and nail all the tax deductions entitled to you. It's also important to maintain a plan for digging yourself out of any debt you may incur.

Ultimately, what's going to ensure a steady stream of business is doing good work for your clients. Never think that you can get away with a sloppy job here or there. Word spreads quick if you're not wholly dependable.

For more tips, continue reading Shin's article at Forbes

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