Going freelance is not for the faint-hearted. You need to have guts to abandon the financial security of the 9-5 in favour of jumping into the unknown. But for those of those who have done it, the rewards are great. Going it alone might seem daunting but with dedication, it will be worthwhile in the long term.
Here’s a list of the steps you’ll need to take to be a successful freelancer:
Dip your toe in
Going cold turkey can be great for quitting smoking and starting a new diet, but for freelance we wouldn’t recommend it. Leaving your current job into the complete abyss is not advised, especially if you haven’t created a thought out plan. Doing some light freelance in the evenings when you get home for work, or even fifteen minutes in your lunch, is the perfect way to get a feel for the style. There are several things to consider before deciding if freelance is for you, so don’t storm into your office and quit your job just yet!
Decide how to manage finances
Once you’re up and running, how will you keep track of finances? Do you need separate notebooks/spreadsheets for personal and business finances? Where is the boundary between the two? Do I even own a calculator? These questions all need definitive answers before you begin to consider if freelance is a realistic option for you.
Finances are one of the most important aspects of going freelance, and getting on top of them before you start will give you a huge advantage. If you’re not number savvy, you might consider using an accountancy firm, or an online bookkeeping service *wink wink*. Compare the deals and decide which is right for you before beginning your new venture; it will take a significant amount of pressure off you.
Create a workspace
If you’re lucky enough to already have an office space in your house, well done – you’re halfway there! If not, it’s time to get creative. Make sure you’re not working in the same space that you’re relaxing; you need an area that isn’t associated with falling asleep to Corrie.
You also need to be able to close yourself off from your work when you need to. If you haven’t got a spare room, set up a desk area by a window and put your files in a drawer once you’re finished; you don’t want to be able to see your work when you’re cooking tea!
Schedule working hours
One of the great aspects of not working for a company is that you break free from 9-5 hours (Hurrah!). While you celebrate though, remember you still need working hours. Freelancing can be stressful, but by having a routine you’ll be able to measure how much work you’re getting done. You’ll also be able to decide when you’re most productive hours are, and how to manage your home life around them.
If you’re going freelance to help with childcare, make sure you still get time to do your work. Booking a childminder for a few hours a day could really take the strain off and give you time to completely focus on your work.
Before you run off to buy your new desk and stationary kit, figure out if this is reasonable with your current living conditions. Have you been in the business long enough to know how to go off on your own? Have you got the money to fund it? The financial side will always be the most intimidating side of freelance, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of doing it because of lack of funds. The main concern is having money to fund the project and yourself for the first few months. After that assume you’ll be gaining enough money from your work.
Find clients before your begin
Gaining clients is your new main objective. When you tell your friends about your new venture, make sure they know it’s not going to be free – you’re trying to start a business, they should be doing you favours! Build up a client base, or at the very least, think about who your target audience is. Know who to aim at and how you will reach them. It’s important to keep in touch with your colleagues when you go freelance, as they may be valuable contacts in the future.
Market, network and advertise
And how are you going to get those clients? Network, network, network! Reaching as many people as possible is vital for financing your work, and doing this requires a lot of effort that you need to be prepared to put in. It may mean a lot of stress and time, but if it’s what you need to do to get clients on your side, go for it!
You’ll need to social media to the max here, post about everything you’re doing, and jump on hashtags to get your company off the ground!
Are you prepared? If you think we’ve missed something vital off, or you have gone freelance and encountered these difficulties the hard way, get in touch and leave a comment below!