It’s a bold and respectable life decision to make your living from your art, but it’s not an excuse to shut your eyes and hope your finances sort themselves out. As a freelancer you are also a business owner, and you need to tend to every facet of your business to ensure that it’s a sustainable operation – not just the creative department.
Here are 5 personal finance tips that every freelancer should know.
1. Don’t bury your head in the sand
Artists don’t like thinking about finance. If that weren’t true they would have gone to school for accounting and might be making a six figure income instead of deciding between a creative cloud subscription or paying rent. Moreover, there is a certain stigma surrounding talk of personal finances, particularly the nitty gritty details and unpleasant realities of past financial mistakes. This partly has to do with a misconception that artists, as right brain thinkers, can’t be bothered with the linear left brain complexities of personal finance.
As a freelancer you need to get over both of these mental hurdles. As of now it’s in your personal freelance CEO job description to manage your finances without excuses.
2. Plan for ups and downs
Freelancing is a feast or famine career: you likely earn vastly different amounts from month to month depending on the number of jobs that come your way. Even as your earnings grow overall, this will probably never change. So instead of considering your productive times as “normal” and everything else as a fluke, accept the slower months as an inevitability and plan for those times by getting a realistic sense of your average income.
What did you earn last year? Divide that by 12 and you have your average monthly earnings. Do you have five years of freelance experience under your belt? Average those years out too and look at the numbers. Hopefully your earning are growing from year to year, but if they aren’t you need to take that into consideration and average out your income for the past few years to get a better sense of what you truly make. Once you have a solid number as your average monthly income, use that number as a baseline for your budget.