The hardest and probably the biggest question you will ask yourself when considering becoming a freelancer is if you should leave your 9 to 5 job. Not only are there financial risks but ultimately is freelancing right for you? You could argue that you never know until you try, but there are a few things you can do to help that all-important decision.
It won’t be a decision to make until you’ve established yourself as a freelancer, but when that decision comes or when you feel your 9 to 5 job is slowing down your freelancing progression then it’s important to be prepared to make sure it’s the right choice for you. Were going to run through a few tips to help you prepare for freelancing, so lets begin.
Are You Serious About Freelancing?
First of all you have to ask yourself, am I serious about freelancing? It’s much more then working for yourself. Freelancing is like wearing many hats. Smaller jobs like bookkeeping, networking and personal development are just some of the roles you’ll have to undertake, especially when you start out. With little budget or income, outsourcing won’t be an immediate option nor a way to get rid of those jobs you don’t like doing! With your 9 to 5 job, it’s likely that you have clear roles that you undertake each day. You’re there to do your small part of the bigger picture where others in the company handle the rest.
Freelancing is a shift, one you need to be prepared for. If your a Graphic Designer, you send the artworks off to the client and the rest is taken care of. Looking deeper, what about the client management, project management (like website building), getting paid for the work or finding the initial work. These are all jobs that you won’t need to worry about in your 9 to 5 as a designer. Now they are all jobs you’ll have to undertake and learn how to do effectively. Making sure you’re aware of the different roles you’ll have to do will ensure you make the right choice moving from full time work to freelancer, minimising the risk as much as possible.
Outline Your Outgoings
Next step is to ask yourself is my freelancing career established enough to maintain a steady income. If you have bills to pay, provide food for the table or just have monthly outgoings it’s even more important you’re financially covered when you make that leap. To help understand your financial position, make a list of all monthly outgoings. Include everything from phone bills to drinks at the pub on a Friday night. Once you’ve made a list of your outgoings it will give you a better understanding of seeing if you’re financially ready to make the move. If your outgoings are £800 and your only making £100 a month from freelance, then you might not be ready. This however doesn’t mean you can’t make the switch now.
Maybe you’ve got a pot of money saved away which might cover you for the next 6 months for example, and then making the move may work in your favour. It will allow you to spend much more time on freelancing instead of doing it at weekends or in the evenings. Either way you need to ensure you’re covered, especially if you’re a provider for other people.
Holidays And Sick Pay
One of the main benefits of working for someone else is that you still get paid for holidays and if you’re sick, (depending on your type of employment and contract). If you decide to take a two-week holiday or go on maternity leave you’ll be still paid the same if you were in work. Freelancing on the other hand is different. Any time you don’t spend working means you make no money.
You can’t stop yourself from getting sick but if you enjoy many holidays a year, this is something you’ll need to take into consideration. Freelancing doesn’t mean you can’t have time off, if you don’t you’ll quickly burnout, but it does mean you’ll have to be more careful before booking those flights aboard.
However, this does not stop freelancers from working throughout the globe. If you work digitally, all you need is a laptop, internet and a few pencils and sketchbooks, and you can work anywhere you want to. Many freelancers travel, while working at the same time. The internet and emailing is a huge advantage, if you like to travel!
Once you’re aware of what’s at stake and if you’re at this stage or you’ve been pondering for a while, don’t worry we’ve got even more resources here to help.
Freelance as an expert – From the start, you want to make sure you’re the expert (or putting things in place to become one). Be sure to check out our recent freelancing as an expert post for a better in depth look at what we mean.
Get your website sorted – Make sure you’ve got your central hub together; your website and portfolio. Make sure it provides a way to contact you and what you’ve been working on recently.
Expand your freelance client base – Make sure you don’t rely on one single income stream from one client, branch out and find a selection of small and medium sized clients to ensure your income is varied and more secure.
I hope you’re now more prepared for the decision of moving into freelancing full time. Even if your not quite ready or you’ve just made the jump we’d love to hear how it went. Was it an easy choice to make? What made you make that all important decision or what’s currently holding you back? Drop us a comment below and let us know how it’s going!