This article was written by Samantha, who has been freelancing for several years now and would never go back to her office job.
Abandoning the security nook of your office can be stressful for any freelancer-to-be. Your mind is flooded with questions and doubts as to your financing, your strategies to find new clients, and deciding on your rates.
You can at times experience an overwhelming feeling of dread and all kinds of fears about your job security. But as the freelance market continues to expand, it is now easier to brave these waves.
Among so many complexities that follow freelance life, there are a few tips you can follow in order to simplify your transition and make the most of your efforts along the way.
1. Treat it as a steady battle.
Most people feel that they should make the switch literally overnight, but the reality is completely different. First of all, there’s no need to quit your day job just yet. Unless there’s a conflict of interest for you to keep your position while looking for work on the side.
As you slowly build your portfolio, reviews and gain client trust as a freelancer, you can start planning for the day when you intend to fully make the move from your nine-to-five to your freelance gig.
At first, you’ll need to balance both, but in moderation, since you don’t want any of your projects to suffer. Think of it as a test run, when you can take on a small project as a freelancer before you start committing to serious work.
2. Save up before you quit.
As a paid employee, you enjoy all the perks of health, social and dental benefits. So this is the time to start thinking about those before you quit. Your future freelancing fee will need to cover everything, in addition to your livelihood, so prepare for the added expenses.
Moreover, you’ll need a starting budget to keep you going before you start earning steady money from regular projects, as it can be a long time before you establish ongoing relationships. Calculate how much you need for your life every month, and start saving up before you quit your job, so you’ll be covered for at least two months.
3. Research your niche.
Most newbies either cast their freelance nets too wide or too narrow at first. Meaning they either opt for a single source of income. Or accept offers from far and wide, without considering their ability to cope with the workload.
Whatever your niche may be, do your homework to find out which networks and companies offer the best conditions for freelancers in your field. Reach out to at least several of them at once.
Then start preparing, perfecting and updating your pitch for future collaboration opportunities. See which of your emails received responses and which language works for which client.
4. Organize your work area.
While you won’t be traveling to an office every day, you need a designated workspace in your own home that will provide the comfort and means for completing your tasks distraction-free. That means removing clutter, positioning your table so that you have ample natural light, and creating enough storage space for folders and other essentials.
In order to protect your health, you’ll need to get a back-supportive chair. Find a good air purifier that will remove allergens and pollutants, and the right LED lights if you plan on working in the evenings. Prevention beats healing, and these initial investments will help you increase your productivity and enjoy your work even more.
5. Get in the habit of saving.
If you’ve already saved up for the first couple of months, don’t forget that this frugal mindset shouldn’t end there. On the contrary, now’s the time to continue applying the same thrifty principle to your everyday spending, in order to make sure you’ll have enough money when a dry-spill occurs. And it sure will, sooner or later.
When you get an unexpected project paid quickly, or some extra money for a quick job on the side, resist the urge to treat yourself, put it away for later. In case you need it for a sudden sick leave, you won’t have to worry about your inability to work for a few days. In case you survive the year healthy as ever – you’ll have a holiday budget to look forward to!
6. Decide on your fee.
Finally, one of the most stressful parts of becoming a freelancer is putting a price-tag on your knowledge and skills. Your salary will be of little help, so let go of the idea that it can be a point of reference. Start getting educated on the current market climate in your field of work.
Many freelance networks offer their own estimates. While you can ask around among your other freelance colleagues and then derive the best guess possible. In time, you’ll be able to grow that number as your experience accumulates, so keep your eye on the market trends and seize any opportunity that comes your way.