Contributed to pmStudent by Jenny Rothe
Do you want to become a project manager but stay in control of your time? Then, you’re probably looking at a freelance career in the field. In fact, freelancing is an especially lucrative career now that businesses are looking to cut costs and are actively looking for remote professionals.
CNBC reports that more than one-third of the American workforce freelanced during the pandemic, contributing $1.2 trillion to the national economy. This was a 22% increase compared to 2019.
If you think that a freelance project management career is for you, then here’s what you need to know before you get started.
Register your business
When people say that freelancers are “their own boss,” they mean that literally and legally. Selling your services is a business, so you need to submit the proper documents to operate it. Legally, you’re known as a “consultant.” Freelancers can start a consulting business by choosing one of two structures: sole proprietorship or LLC.
A sole proprietorship is the easiest and cheapest to set up; all you need is an employer identification number, a local tax certificate, and a permit to sell your services. Meanwhile, forming an LLC requires more documents, like an operating agreement. But owners can separate their business and personal assets, granting them an extra layer of liability protection.
It isn’t easy to pitch freelancing services to a company, especially since you’re the one who vouches for your work. However, if you add certificates and training courses that you’ve completed to your resume, potential clients might be more inclined to accept your services. Plus, a survey by the Project Management Institute (PMI) notes that certified project managers earn at least 23% more than those without certificates. Some certifications you can look into include but are not limited to those issued by the PMI, International Association of Project Managers, American Academy of Project Management, and Global Association for Quality Management. Remember that you can have more than one certification.
Expand your network
Freelancers don’t have a company that provides them with a steady list of projects (unless you’re contracted to one—but that opportunity will come when you’re more established), so you need to network. Attend events and conferences. For example, the PMI Global Conference just concluded last October, so you can look forward to that next year. Join project management communities; this will allow you to meet people that can potentially recommend you for an open position. Of course, after you’ve established a connection, it’s important to keep the relationship strong. Don’t just reach out when you need a job—talk to them occasionally or offer your own opportunities. Connections need to be two-way if you want them to last.
Find a balance
One of the biggest challenges of becoming your own boss is learning how to balance your work and personal life. After all, your home is your office, making work a phone’s reach away. One of our five approaches to improve your self-management skills is to plan your day. List your priorities and create a schedule in 30-minute increments. This routine will help you set boundaries, as it lets you know when to stop working. Additionally, it may help to have a dedicated office space in your home—preferably one that’s far from your “comfort” spaces (like the bedroom). Entering your “office” will help shift your gears into a project manager mindset. Meanwhile, leaving it becomes a personal promise that you’re done for the day.
There are many steps if you want to take your project management skill to the freelancing field, but you won’t regret it once you’ve established your presence in your chosen industry. Just remember to plan your steps before you make any major decisions.
Jenny Rothe is a freelance writer with a penchant for topics in business and consumer technology. Her dream is to travel the world as a digital nomad and build a marketing startup that she can manage from any corner of the globe.
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