Considering Full-Time Freelancing? Here Are Three Simple Things to Think About
Becoming a full-time freelancer is a big step. The decision is packed with emotions, with dreams and aspirations tugging at the heartstrings. The thought processes often feel like an ocean whipped up by the wind, smashing against a jagged cliff wall of practicality.
Will I be successful? Am I throwing away my career? Am I foolish to think this could work? It can be hard to know.
The sheer volume of encouragement on the net is overwhelming. So many messages of ‘you can do this!’ and ‘making money online is easy!’ are continually being yelled across cyberspace. However, most seem connected to a six-step guide or a course you can take for only $800. As their income is linked to selling you what you want to hear, it can be tricky to take advice from these kinds of sources.
In contrast, many people, particularly on writing sites such as this one, talk about their struggles to make even a few dollars a month through their chosen field.
And so who do you go with? Do you jump all in and think it will be easy? Or do you get distracted by the struggles of others and think it can’t be done? Like most things in life, the answer is that you take a little from column A and a little from column B.
Without a doubt, good research is imperative to be prepared and to give yourself the best shot in your new endeavour. Over many months I’ve read hundreds of articles and listened to a vast array of podcasts. I’ve also talked to freelancers all around the world about how they ended up freelancing full-time.
I’ve gleaned from my research that, in general, freelancers are pretty generous in sharing their experiences. In the spirit of the kindness I’ve received, I’ve narrowed down the top three questions a person should consider when thinking of freelancing full-time.
- Do you have savings to buffer your journey?
Money brings us all the good stuff in life, like food and shelter, so ignoring finances is a surefire way to sabotage your freelance dreams.
If things don’t take off immediately, you’ll need help paying the bills. While you may be a lucky one, chances are that it’s going to take a while to support yourself completely, even with expenditure cutbacks in your budget.
When building your freelance business, you also want the freedom to choose the work you’re interested in, not just the jobs that will pay you quickly. If freelancing is your long-term gig, you need to build a business you want to stay in, so your work choices need to be strategic.
About four to six months pay seems to be the agreed guide to providing yourself with security. You’re going to have a lot going on in those first few months, so taking away financial pressure is a tremendous gift to yourself.
- Are you in the right headspace to run your own business?
Working both for yourself and by yourself takes mental strength.
Think about searching for clients and coping with rejection. It takes a lot to keep yourself going when maybe one in fifty cold pitches ends in a gig. Making connections takes time, and fostering relationships can sometimes end up nowhere. Freelancers need endless buckets of resilience and the mental energy to get out there and keep going — a true belief in what they do and the value of their skills.
Most freelancers work primarily by themselves and so maintaining motivation and avoiding loneliness can also be an issue. This can be particularly the case if a person is an extrovert and gets their energy from interacting with others.
Maintaining drive is central to freelancing. You need to be good at goal setting and keeping yourself accountable to your commitments. While there’s a heap of time management apps out there to get you through, some core self-motivation skills are necessary to keep your professional reputation on the up and up.
Have a deep think about your mental weaknesses and consider what kind of help you can seek. It could be business coaching, using a co-working space, only working with local clients who can meet in person, or even just taking a daily walk to improve your mental health.
- Do you have your support network onboard, or are you becoming part of a freelance/industry community?
Everyone needs a champion — at least one person who fully supports their dreams on the good and bad days. Having a whole network cheering you on is even better. Sometimes this is friends or family, but investing time in industry-related relationships is well worth it.
None of us knows everything, and you will certainly not know everything on day one of running your own business. Finding people you can learn from is key to continually getting better at your job and finding the support we all need to thrive.
There are many places you can find community, or more specifically mentorship, including social media groups, Meet Up, joining newsletters, Slack groups, taking an online course with an interactive element or simply emailing people whose podcasts you’ve listened to. Friendships and professional connections all need to start somewhere, and a simple hello and a question or two is as good a place as any.
Becoming a full-time freelancer doesn’t need to be a rocky ocean. You can calm the storm by researching the sturdiest boat possible and following the bright glow of a lighthouse built by many people before you. Thankfully, the world is a wonderful place of information, with connections at our fingertips making no journey one that we truly need to go alone.
If you have any other questions you think a person considering full-time freelancing should ask themselves, please comment below!
Article first published by Jacqueline Eager