The idea for this post arose after my piece about what I’d learned from one year of freelancing. Some of you said you’d toyed with the idea of going freelance yourself, but didn’t know how to actually get started with it. I’ve still got a lot to discover myself when it comes to this ‘freelance thing’, but there are a few bits and bobs I found out about that I’m happy to share.
1. Know What You Want to Do
Before you say goodbye to your fulltime job – and the salary that comes with it – you’re best to have an idea about what’s next. I know that sounds obvious, but I for one didn’t have a clue (I’ll save that story for another post). The more details as to what you have to offer, the better. Think of your services, ways of billing your clients (by the hour/the day/the project) and if you want to be freelance all the time or just a few days a week for example.
2. Check Your Finances!
Once you’ve got your ‘freelance offering’ all sorted out (and before you do anything drastic like resigning from your job!), it’s time to check your finances. For me, this meant I sat down with my bank statements and went through let’s say the 6 previous months. Not the most exciting thing to do I know, but important nevertheless.
Figure out how much you need to cover your monthly costs – which probably include your rent + charges, phone bill, insurances etc. – and how much you can save on unnecessary stuff. In my case that resulted in (a lot) less coffees to go, skipping that umpteenth pair of shoes and more eating in – things I didn’t need in the first place to be honest…
As soon as you’ve got a clear idea about your expenses, you know how much you have to earn to live off each month. You can then easily calculate the buffer you need to build up before you can go freelance. I think you’ll probably want at least six months to a year to get your freelance business going.
3. Create a Portfolio
Your future clients will want to see your previous work. So if you move into a completely new direction, I suggest you start working on your portfolio asap – it’s also a great way to keep yourself motivated while you’re saving up by the way!
Personally I didn’t have a lot of writing – let alone a portfolio – I could show people since I came from a banking background. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog and I am so glad I did. I got my first freelance gig thanks to my blog (the client wanted to see how I write) and it still serves as my writing portfolio today.
Whether you start a blog, build a stunning website, or print an incredible photo book that contains your best pictures doesn’t matter, as long as potential clients get to see you’re serious about your work.
4. Connect with Relevant Groups & People
If you’ve read my previous posts about freelancing, you know how valuable I think your network is (go here if you’ve missed it). Especially if you move into a different industry than the one you’re currently in. Try to start connecting with groups and people in your new line of work before you even launch your freelance business. Thanks to social media this is now easier than ever. LinkedIn is great for industry related groups – just click on that ‘Ask to join this group’ button – and Facebook groups can be very useful as well.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how genuinely supportive some of these groups are. Whenever someone has a question or wants feedback on something, there are always people ‘around’ to help them out. So get connecting! And don’t forget to have real life coffees with people as well of course 🙂
5. Give Yourself a Deadline
As much as I like to preach that everyone should do something they enjoy, there comes a time when you simply need to be realistic. Depending on your responsibilities (mortgage, kids, dogs, you name it) that time comes sooner or later. To avoid a situation that involves too much Netflix though – and to keep a little bit of pressure on – it’s good to give yourself a deadline. This will be different for everyone, but be honest and set a realistic goal. For example: if you haven’t done any paid projects in six months – and there’s nothing in the pipeline either – it may be time to reconsider your decision to go freelance. Or to think about getting a parttime job until things start to take off.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on going freelance and if you’re already freelancing, is there anything you’d add to this? Leave a comment below!
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