I was really pleased ( and PUMPED ) about all the discussion that happened during last week’s “Be Free, Lance” session and took notes on what you all wanted covered. In fact, today on my facebook, I will be answering quick questions related to all things freelance. These are meant to be brief and I will cover many topics in the coming weeks, but definitely check it out if you’re interested. With that said, today I’m going to talk about taking the leap from your 9-5 job to working full-time freelance. Now, it should be said that I did not have a full-time job before I started freelancing. I was lucky to have scored a contracting gig a year before graduating college, so I was able to get my name out there via my blog and expand my professional network while freelancing part-time. Although that’s the route I took, I still learned extremely important steps in becoming a full-time freelancer.
First things first, you MUST make sure that you can live comfortably ( money wise ) before you take that big step. Nobody likes talking about money and it’s often a dreaded subject, but there’s just no way around it. You need to do some math and figure out if you’ll be able to pay your bills or not. Oftentimes, it’s helpful to have a nice amount of cash saved up that will last you for a good 6-12 months. Freelancing is not a for sure thing, nor is a steady paycheck, so having a safety net will naturally feel comforting.
If you don’t think you can swing full-time freelancing right away, you can always take on projects after hours. I know a lot of designers who are doing this – and although it’s a lot of work – at least you’re getting your foot in the door. In all honesty, you will feel like you’re living a double / extremely busy life for a little bit, but you will be THAT much closer to becoming a full blown freelancer. And if that’s the ultimate goal, I promise you it’s worth it.
The most important piece of advice I can give you once you begin freelancing is that you’ll only be seen as much as you put yourself out there. Utilize social media, enter contests or publications, hand out killer marketing materials, and just be yourself. The more you use these things to your advantage, the larger your potential audience will be. Through marketing and word-of-mouth, your network will grow and become its own driving force – fueling inquiries, clients, and collaborations.
Deep down, I think that most people know when they can take the leap. There are a lot of factors that go into it, sure, but I strongly believe that you’ll know when it’s right.