What You Need To Know Before Transitioning To A Freelance Career
Job transitioning is a big deal! Walking away from the security of a 9-5 job and hopping into a career that thrives on how well you can sell yourself is a huge decision. And it certainly requires thorough analysis before making the big jump. Now, if you’re super big on spontaneity, throwing away all the technicalities that come with proper planning, you may want to slow down for a bit here. While spontaneity is amazingly fascinating and adrenaline triggering, it is not always reckless. I get it; “thou shalt not plan” is boldly written in red on the first page of the commandments of spontaneous people. But with a life-changing decision like job transitioning, you may want to at the very least, take a look at the options. And I believe that’s why you’re here reading this – to take a look at what you need to know before transitioning to a freelance career.
So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Clarify Your Why
Not to sound cliché, but being clear on the reason you want to step out of the 9-5 space into freelancing is very crucial. Do you want to transition because you want to become a boss of your own? Well, you may want to know that you’re gonna have many bosses the minute you step into the freelancing space. Is having to answer to someone else the issue? Becoming a freelancer won’t stop this. You’re just gonna be jumping into a sea of the very thing you’re running away from.
Perhaps you feel a strong pull to do something or be something but your 9-5 job isn’t giving you the freedom to be or do that thing that really makes your heart fast. Or maybe your decision to transition has something to do with a major change that happened in your personal life. Whatever reason that you may have for wanting to transition, ensure it is clear enough to you and sustainable, not something trivial.
What skills are you bringing to the freelance space?
SEO/Content writer, web developer, graphics designer, video creation and editing, animation, photography, the list is endless. It would help to clarify the skills you intend to market before transitioning to a freelance career and not the other way round. This way, you’ll know where you need to brush up, and what you need to do to facilitate that brush-up.
Along with your major skills as mentioned above (what you do), there are other skills that would help you to thrive in the freelance space. These include being able to write a compelling cover letter, how to negotiate, communicating your value, and actually solving problems. Honing these skills would allow you to be better equipped to cope with the unexpected in the freelance space because they would come.
Before transitioning to a freelance career, set systems up through which you would acquire these skills – if you don’t have them already.
Be clear on how much you charge for each job
I remember doing a lot of research and asking lots of questions before lunging forward to submit a proposal for openings. Before I got a hang of it, I was always asking: “How much money should I charge for my work?” “Should I charge per hour, per project, maybe per feature?” The answer to this question, however, depends on the skill you’re marketing and the kind of personal brand you intend to build.
If you are aiming towards establishing a more exclusive personal brand with premium clients to which you’ll give premium attention, your skills would have to be one that can cater to those needs. Likewise, if you are aiming towards doing loads of projects probably, to build up your portfolio or build your skills, the amount you’ll charge would be in line with this. Essentially, your financial goals should help you clarify how much you should charge clients. And then you go on to attach personal preferences.
Money Management is Key
Now, this is a very big deal! Money management is hard enough for 9-5ers, how much more freelancers having inconsistent earnings, especially when you’re still trying to find your footing.
In managing your finances as a freelancer, you would need to prepare for the unexpected because they would come. Unpaid or delayed payments, lack of clients, hardware malfunctions, family emergencies, are some of these unexpected. Give yourself a cushion that would help you manage these things by properly managing your spending – domino effect. You can use the free apps available online or stick with the ol’ pen and paper or an Excel spreadsheet.
Stress Is Gunning You Down
Ask any freelancer what the stressful parts of their career journey are and you’ll hear things like not being able to keep track of their earnings, no time-offs or vacations without the brain pulling the guilt stunt, forgetting to eat breakfast, no lunch breaks, staying up late working, not knowing what day of the week it is…
Freelancing is one of the most flexible work types and this particularly makes it very easy for freelancers to be gunned down by stress spiralling from these issues. Setting your own boundaries and building systems that work for you would help you navigate this. If it helps, replicate a typical corporate environment in your personal workspace- take your bath, put on work clothes, pack your lunch, and set to work like you would if you were still at your day job. You could also place conspicuous reminders around your workspace, for say, lunch break.
Taste before you bite
One important thing about entering freelancing from a 9-5 job is that it is a transition. If you can, don’t hurry into quitting your day job. Try juggling between your regular job and freelancing first. Your results will obviously be skewed, yet you will get a glimmer of what it’s like to be self-employed. Work during the weekends or in your spare time and you’ll see if you can make it full-time.
Being a freelancer is beyond being your own boss or being able to work with anyone you want without restrictions. Freelancing is a real thing and it takes a shit ton of discipline to thrive. Transitioning into freelancing doesn’t take away the fact that you have to put in the work. Like every other career path, successful freelancing takes time. Great time management, client networking, financial planning are important to your success on your freelance journey. So even though you are pretty good in your creative field, you’ll quickly see you have to acquire additional skills to become successful.
There are pros and cons to every journey, and freelancing is not an exception. Weigh the cons even as you weigh the pros and whenever you feel you’re ready, you can make the transition. But you’ll be doing so from an informed standing, setting yourself up for success. Be on the lookout for the unexpected though because they would occur.
Was this helpful? Let us know in the comment section. What other things do you think we ought to know before transitioning to a freelance career?
Also Read: Five Ways To Avoid Burnout As A Creative