Six Easy Steps To Turn Your Part-Time Gig Into A Successful Freelance Career
Many of us dream of becoming our own boss someday, but the thought of leaving our set hours and salary is a daunting prospect we aren’t ready to entertain.
The transition from full-time employee to freelancer can be a turbulent journey, and unless you’re lucky enough to have a list of clients secured, it is likely to take some time to get to grips with freelance life. Here are a few steps you can follow, for a smoother transition on your way to becoming your own boss:
Do your research before going freelance full-time
This is an obvious starting point overlooked by many. Whether you have clients waiting or none at all, inexperience can soon catch up with you as problems will begin to pile up.
Whether it’s tax concerns or clients refusing to pay you, while research won’t make you immune to these problems, it will certainly help you avoid some—and you’ll be better prepared to deal with any, should they arise.
Save six months’ wages before starting your freelance career
The peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re covered while you find your feet allows you to focus on establishing yourself as a freelancer within your chosen field. Six months may seem a long time to wait if you’re raring to go but try to use this time wisely to get better prepared for the transition (your future self will thank you for it).
Get your portfolio website online
There are many free websites made for employers to hire freelancers out there; so, having your own website isn’t necessarily essential these days—but it will certainly help you. This is something you should look into months before you leave your job.
A messy website is not a good look, and building a website while you’re already working on projects can be too much to tackle at one time. Pay a web developer to build it, or build it yourself using a website like Squarespace; it doesn’t need to be a world-class website—a clean and simple website to show your work is more than enough to get started.
Regularly address your plan of action
There’s no doubt about it: the life of a freelancer can be amazing. Regular well-paid projects with clients you enjoying working with is a daily reality enjoyed by many, but occasional lapses of discipline can be costly to your progression.
Before you leave your current role, have a clear idea of how much you’re going to charge for your services, how many hours a week you can commit to, and the kind of projects you wish to attract. Freelancing is unpredictable, regardless of your experience. Address your plan of action before you start — and review regularly to be sure you’re getting what you want from your career.
Inform past clients you’re going freelance
Taking on freelance work outside of your current job is the best way to prepare. If you already have clients, send them a personal message (no “one-size-fits-all” template).
Inform them you’re going freelance and you have spots open to secure a retainer service. These messages can be extremely effective and you may just secure some projects before you submit your notice period.
Attend networking and freelancer events in your area (and make it a habit)
Networking should be your new favorite word for two reasons:
- Networking can lead to new clients and opportunities; and
- Social interactions are crucial to remaining upbeat
Networking may conjure up images of suits and hundreds of business cards being exchanged but there are many different kinds of free events that you can attend.
There are laid-back meetups based around sharing your knowledge over a coffee or beer, there’s workshops, seminars, and always plenty of the traditional kind if you’re on the lookout for new opportunities.
These events are also a great reminder to keep a well-structured week. Make time to see people and know when it’s time to step away from work to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which is key to a successful career as a freelancer.
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