For the military spouse, settling into a job or career can be pretty challenging. Moving around all the time, trying to manage a house and kids alone during deployments, and days filled with uncertainty about where you will be next, whether in the continental U.S. or overseas. So how do you manage to create a way to make a living, while maintaining the flexibility to manage everything yourself if your spouse gets deployed? One solution is to become a freelancer.
Freelance work essentially means that you work on a contract basis for someone else, performing a task they either do not know how to do or simply may not have time for. Since you are paid by the project, sometimes income can be sporadic, but there are methods to stabilize, like finding regular clients and getting referrals from past clients for new contracts.
The advantage of freelance work is that it can be done anywhere in the world in most cases. You do not have to be nearby your clients at all. Using cloud services and shared hosting platforms, you can share files across the globe, and in some cases work on them simultaneously.
Do What You Know How to Do
Freelancing encompasses several fields and a number of skills. Though it’s by far one of the most common fields for freelancing, you don’t have to be a writer; there are plenty of options in a wide variety of different fields:
- Writing: This can be anything from web copy to technical manuals and include ghostwriting books and articles, both fiction and nonfiction.
- Website Building: from finding an individual or company domain name, choosing a host and the best type of hosting, to creating content and building the framework of a website, these tasks can all be done on a freelance basis. You can also use website builders such as Pixpa to create a professional website and deliver it to your client.
- Design: From logo and ad design to many other graphic design tasks, these can all be done remotely.
- Photography: Freelance photography can be done from almost anywhere. In some instances though, you may have to travel.
- Artistry: From commissions to do a family portrait, to posting your regular artwork that is sponsored by patrons, drawing or painting is a great pastime that is relaxing, engaging, and can be done anywhere.
You’re not limited to just creative endeavours either. You can do accounting, be a virtual assistant or do nearly any job freelance. With the rise of more remote workers, many companies will even offer you the opportunity to work from home regardless of your position.
Other companies offer customer service or technical advisor type positions you can work at home as well. More than likely, you can use skills you already have to build an at home career. A permanent change of station doesn’t have to be a career killer anymore.
Deploy Yourself (Work Anywhere)
The mobile nature of all of these jobs means you can essentially deploy yourself and work from anywhere in the world. This can offer your family financial stability and keep you focused on a career path.
When you find yourself working towards the long-term in certain areas, you can also recruit local clients, and then keep them even if you move. Working for a local business does have some social, and even financial, benefits from time to time, and working in person can help you develop valuable people skills that will help you once military life is behind you and your spouse.
Set yourself up with the supplies you will need for your office even when you move around. Be sure that you have a desk, the technology you need, and when you look for housing, make sure there is adequate space for you to work in.
Set up Your Mobile Business
You’ll want to set yourself up as an LLC, and that will mean choosing a location, as you don’t want to keep shifting your company every couple of years depending on where you live.
This means you can choose, to a certain extent, where to set up your business. Because you are in the military, you can do this either in your home state or a state where you have been stationed. The best first step is to meet with an accountant and see what state may have the best tax advantages to you.
In addition, you may want to consider where you and your spouse plan to settle when you get out of the military, since that may end up being your home state. Think long term, since this may end up being your business for years to come. Just realize you will have to pay taxes and file reports in whatever state you register as your business’ headquarters, regardless of whether you live or own property there or not.
Timing is Everything
When it comes to business, location is often everything in the physical business world, but in the freelance world timing is everything. Getting into the right field at the right time can make a difference between immediate success or a long-term struggle.
When you freelance, more often than not, you’re driven by final deadlines, not set hours. This is appealing to many remote workers, and is especially useful for military spouses: you can use the daytime hours to do any family or household chores you need to, pick up the kids after school, and then start working when your spouse gets off duty.
In addition, being able to make the time to work from home and meet client deadlines is also a vital part of your formula for success. If you have children or other responsibilities, you need to make sure your schedule will allow you to work enough to handle not only your work week but the additional marketing and other tasks that come with owning any business.
Freelance work is not the ideal for everyone, but for a military spouse who is constantly moving around, it may be the best solution for establishing a career or even just working a job. You have to be smart about it. Do what you know how to do, make sure you can do that work anywhere, set up your business well, and ensure your timing.