So, you’ve decided to go freelance. No more long commute and working for someone else. You’re going to pursue whatever you really want to be doing. Maybe you’ll work out of your favourite coffee shop. Or the Bahamas. Either way, you’re now going to start living the dream while the money keeps rolling in!
Well, that’s the dream, anyway. In reality, quitting your job to work full-time on your freelance projects will probably look nothing like the happy cocktail-sipping gentleman in the cheesy stock photo at the top of this post. Sorry for the bad news.
Becoming a full-time freelancer is usually a very unnerving experience, which is why you need to make sure it’s the right decision for you. Before you dance over to your HR department and hand in your notice, there are some important considerations to ensure you’re making the right call:
You have some money saved up
Becoming a full-time freelancer means that you’re investing in yourself and, like any investment, you’ll need to first raise some capital. Make sure that you’ve got enough to pay rent, buy groceries and other necessities while you get the ball rolling.
Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a long list of clients lined up to start with, you likely won’t receive your full payment until your projects are completed. This means that even in the best of circumstances there will be an initial period where not much money is coming in. Plus, things can (and will) go wrong, and that includes with your clients’ accounting departments. Most experts recommend having enough to cover yourself for anywhere from 3-6 months, but just to be safe always save more than less.
You’re prepared to adjust your lifestyle
As a freelancer you will be the CEO, designer, marketer, secretary, bookkeeper, and every other component that goes into running a business. Because you’re just one person, be ready for the extra time it will take to wear all of these hats.
This means longer working hours, especially at the beginning. It also means adjusting your spending habits due to a reduced income. Whether this means cooking rather than ordering in, having friends over instead of going to the bar, or seeing a movie once a month instead of every weekend, take a look at what parts of your lifestyle can take be scaled back while you start making a name for yourself.
You already have experience
If you’re thinking “I’m going to quit my job so I can learn how to…” then you’re not ready to change your career path just yet. Before you make the leap, you should already be pretty good at whatever skill you want to utilize as a freelancer. Going even further, you should also have a portfolio ready and have built up your network so that you’re not starting from scratch when searching for clients.
You have a skill that people actually want
You can be the best pen-spinner in the world, but that doesn’t mean that people will want to hire you for it.
If you haven’t been able to get projects on the side, that might be a sign that there isn’t really a market for the skill that you’d like to use freelancing. Make sure that there’s a demand for what you’re offering or it will be all the more difficult to find enough clients to be a full-time freelancer.
You have business lined up
As anyone who’s ever searched for a job knows all too well, it can be very difficult to find work. This can be all the more challenging when you’ve just left a perfectly fine job and have to constantly question whether you made the right call. Do yourself a favour and secure clients before you make the plunge so you can get started right after you hand in your notice. If you’re going to be a successful freelancer, it’s important to start off on the right foot.
You love what you do
You’re going to be devoting a lot of time to your freelance work, so make sure you actually like what you’re doing! Even if you have clients lined up out the door, if you don’t like the work then you won’t last long. Most freelancers decide to freelance because they want to do what they really enjoy doing, which is a very important attitude to have if you’re going to be successful.
Best of luck! If you’re currently a freelancer, feel free to share your portfolio website in the comments. 10 bonus points if it’s with a Hover domain :)