The whole point of freelancing is becoming FREE. Even spending your money freely.
But the downside is: You can’t buy things for free, they cost a lot of money.
It is crucial for every freelancer to spend their money with wisdom so that they won’t go bankrupt by doing what they like.
Start with Minimum Necessity
It is not uncommon that a freelancer starts his or her career with a minimal amount of money. We know every penny counts, but we tend to spend money like flowing water. We buy things like lenses, printers, even wall paintings, to make sure that we have everything we need to succeed.
But we don’t need too much to start. We’d better not blame our failure on the stuff that we don’t have. We blame ourselves.
A new freelancing career is like a chemistry experiment, using minimum chemicals to test whether the theory is valid or not.
It’s possible to know whether you have chosen the right path for you by just spending minimal money. But first, a freelancer should know what the most critical parts are in his or her field.
As a filmmaker, from what I learned from many gurus in this industry, I believe four factors will decide the quality of my work.
So, I put most of my resources on them. Buy a camera, get a microphone, purchase a couple of good lights as well as tripods and several SD cards. Also, I spend time reading books and watching great films. Those are what I need to start up.
Nothing fancy, nothing redundant, I don’t need a slick office room or an expensive Herman-Miller chair. I mean, I may need them, but in the future.
With my minimum necessity, I could start to produce videos and gain attraction. Then it’s time to see if people love my work or not. If the answer is yes, then move forward.
A freelancer should be confident but not arrogant. If I spent all my money to buy the most expensive lenses and cameras, firmly believing that I would be successful one day, I must be an idiot.
Freelancing is not that easy, save some money as your backup, it will help you get through hard times.
Rent When You Can
As you may know, renting stuff is much more affordable than buying. I highly suggest renting when you can, especially when you start your freelancing career.
But it depends on what you do.
If you are a writer, you might need a computer and a good set of keyboard and mouse. If you prefer the old school, you might need a great pen and paper. Would you consider renting a pen or a computer? Maybe not. Because you use them every single day, and you use them whenever you get an idea to write. You can’t plan out when you should use it.
However, as a filmmaker, the situation is different than a writer. Filmmakers rent things a lot, even those world-class filmmakers, they rent as well. Because first, filming gear is insanely expensive (I mean professional ones,) second, filmmakers don’t need to own every piece of filming equipment, they only need them when there is a shoot.
But if we are talking about offices, cars, no matter what you do as a freelancer, you can rent to save a lot of money.
Other than purchasing cost, if you rent, you are free from maintenance work and damage, and you don’t need space to store what you rent.
I’m Not At All Saying You Can’t Buy Things
Sometimes we need to buy what we need.
To decide whether to buy or to rent a piece of equipment, I like to evaluate how frequent I will use it in the future, and what value it would add to my workflow.
It seems too vague, how about taking a drone, for example.
I always want to own a drone and bring it with me wherever I go. It’s small, it’s tempting, and it can take fascinating and breathtaking footage. As a filmmaker, it seems to be a must-have, right?
However, a good drone does not come cheap. I am saying the ones that can be used in professional video production. You know what I am saying. The cost is around $1500, but if you include a few more batteries and other accessories, the price could reach $2000 easily
So, should I buy one for my new weapon in my arsenal?
No, I wouldn’t, at least at this point. The reason is simple. I don’t use it as much as I imagined before. I am not using a drone on a daily basis. I don’t have enough drone work to lower the average cost of each use.
So, I rent when I have a shoot that needs some drone footage. Renting is insanely cheap compared to a purchase.
Whenever I realize that I need to use a drone more often, I will consider buying a drone. The cost of each user could be meagre, and I don’t need to deal with hassles from the shipping and renting process.
Another tip I highly suggest is to try out before purchasing. We usually get lured by commercials and review videos from YouTubers, but it is not uncommon that what works well for others might not work well for you.
Many brands and vendors have a very consumer-friendly return policy, allowing customers to try things out before they decide their minds. No matter what you buy is a real thing like a laptop or an online service. You can always try it out. Take advantage of their return policy. If you don’t like it, then return it.
Do Carry a Little Hesitation on Building over Buying
Some of my friends and even my favourite social media influencers have been advocating building over buying for a very long time.
I agree with them partially.
Because look at the stuff those influencers show on their YouTube videos, although they look cool and reflect the wisdom and hardworking of the creator, it is not for everybody.
It seems we can save a lot of money by building things by ourselves, but how can we get the materials that we need? How much time would we spend on that? Is it worth it?
If I can buy something that is cheap and fits my needs, I might buy it because I can save a lot of time, which might be more valuable than the money that I save by building.
Conclusion: The Bottom Line
How to spend money as a freelancer should be separate from how much money you have on your bank account. To some extent, these are two extremely different questions.
The more prudent you are spending your money, the more thoughts and reflections you have for your career.
Be practical and be rational. Don’t follow the trends, follow your needs. A good freelancer is also a good gatekeeper for money he/she has earned. So, always be wise with it.
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