According to Demand Sage, there are more than 1.5 billion freelancers across the globe. The industry studies also claim that the freelance market’s estimated value is roughly $1.5 trillion.
The expectations are that it will grow at a rate of 15% annually.
Why Do People Choose to Go Freelance?
The idea of going freelance appeals to many because you get to be your own boss. No more working for somebody else is a great motivator, especially if you feel miserable at your current job.
At the same time, freelancing offers other benefits. By giving up the 9 to 5 lifestyle, you also get to:
- Experience a better life-work balance
As a freelancer, you have more flexibility to manage your time and energy for work and personal life. If you need to take time off, you can, and if you want to focus and work extra, you are free to do that as well.
- Choose your work location
Freelancers are known as digital nomads for a good reason. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can work from virtually anywhere. A change of scenery often helps with finding motivation.
- Spend more time with your family
A better life and work balance also means that you can spend more time with your family while working from home. You do not have to worry about gluing yourself to a desk at an office job when you are a freelancer.
- Avoid commute stress
The time you spend commuting can now become the time you spend with family, exercising, or sleeping. The stress and costs of commuting no longer bother you like they did every day you had to go to work.
- Forget about the office politics
Not everyone is a fan of gossip, but their colleagues still suck them into random office dramas that are nothing but a distraction. It is one of the more underlooked benefits of freelancing, but one worth mentioning nonetheless.
Having said all that, the benefits of freelancing are clear but do not expect a smooth transition just like that.
It will take a while to figure out the ins and outs. And since we are talking about a transition rather than an immediate switch, you need to understand that you will still need to do your main job while you pursue freelancing.
Traits to Improve Before Switching to Freelancing
Experiences and skill sets vary depending on what work you do and how long you have been doing it.
Since you plan to switch to an entirely different work model, self-improvement should be one of the priorities, particularly if you are in no hurry and have some time to spare.
Freelancers are the ones who advocate for their services. It is crucial to learn how to present and sell yourself to clients.
Your first few attempts will likely bring no results, and people who fail often lose motivation and start doubting themselves. The more you know about negotiating before going in, the higher your chances of success. Acquiring new clients and expanding your business is equally crucial when you’re freelancing.
Productivity may suffer due to various distractions, such as family members. As a freelancer, you do not have a supervisor checking up on you. If procrastinating becomes a habit, prepare to fall behind in your work and struggle with deadlines.
Discover tips for boosting your productivity as a freelancer in our upcoming article.
Do not expect a stable income like you would from a set salary. Freelancing comes with uncertainties. The income varies from week to week. Some clients will pay on an hourly basis, whereas others will send payment at the end of the month.
Improve on budgeting to have a realistic picture of how much you need to make to take care of bills and other expenses. Also, remember that the time you spend looking for clients and taking care of other administrative tasks is not paid. Understanding how to effectively manage your finances is a crucial skill that every freelancer should master for long-term success and stability.
It is recommended to use automation tools to eliminate manual tasks and waste less time you could be spending on the actual work.
Constant communication with clients and peers is part of the freelancing routine. Since you are on your own, there is nobody else who can present you over the phone, in person, or in writing.
Mastering communication requires effort, even more so if your previous job did not require communicating much.
Poor communication will prevent you from networking and establishing connections, not to mention work-related troubles stemming from miscommunication.
- Problem solving
Working in an office usually means being surrounded by people who can help you with different issues.
Let’s say you have a new Mac and are not sure how to scan MacBook for virus to check its state. You can talk to the IT department. Or, if you cannot make out what the numbers on an invoice mean, someone from accounting should have your back.
Freelancing, unfortunately, means that you cannot depend on other people for work-related matters. Problem solving is a valuable trait for freelancers.
Some obstacles are pretty simple and manageable without too much research, whereas others will take a long time. In more extreme cases, you will have no option but to seek outside help.
One thing to note is that whenever you encounter a problem, you should keep your cool.
Regardless of the issue, you should be able to find a solution. And each obstacle you overcome adds to your overall experience.
Steer clear of the typical mistakes often committed by freelancers by being informed and proactive.
- Time management
Taking care of everything as a freelancer puts you in a position where you overestimate how much you can do.
It might be tempting to chase a new client, believing that you can fit them into your already busy schedule. However, being greedy is one way to damage your reputation. If you take on too much work and fail to deliver, the odds are that you will have difficulties finding clients in the future. Also learning how to effectively manage projects is crucial when you’re a freelancer.
That is just a single example of how time management affects your freelancing career. You have to be at the top of your game.
Do not think about persistence as a trait that comes in when you are struggling to get new clients or meet deadlines. Yes, you will likely make mistakes before reaching a stage where you can call yourself a successful freelancer.
However, persistence also plays a prominent role in your growth after finding your footing. It is a given that the industry will evolve, and you should keep up with the trends, learning new things about the trade and industry.
Failing to do that will leave you behind other freelancers who persist in putting in enough effort to be the best at what they do.
6 Steps to Become a Freelancer
Now that we have established why freelancing is an attractive proposition and what key characteristics freelancers should polish, it’s time to look at how the transition should go.
Below is a 6-step guide covering the basics of slowly moving away from your day job and establishing yourself as a freelancer.
1. Figure Out What You Are Good at
Your first order of business is to figure out what you want to do. Some people want to make the most out of their acquired skills and experience in a new venture. Others wish to pursue something completely different.
Between the two approaches, utilizing past experiences increases your chances of success. You are less prone to mistakes and do not have to worry about spending time learning new craft.
Take graphic design, for example. If you have been working as a graphic designer for an agency and decided to quit, opening a custom merchandise store makes sense. You have a background in graphic design, so coming up with merch ideas is not that demanding.
On the other hand, if someone works as an accountant and considers becoming an SEO expert, the journey is going to require a lot of time and effort.
There are plenty of high-demand freelance jobs in the market, with new opportunities popping up on a regular basis.
The most important thing is to take the approach that suits you. At the end of the day, if you are fed up with your current job, then regardless of how intimidating learning something new might seem at first, if you want to, pursue it.
2. Set the Price for Your Services
You have a couple of options for pricing your services:
- On an hourly basis
- By project
- On a retainer for recurring services
As a new freelancer, you should expect to charge lower than the industry rates. That is, unless you have plenty of references to back up your experience.
Newbies need to persuade new clients, and offering lower rates is one of the most efficient methods to achieve this.
Take some time to research your industry’s market and determine how much you can realistically charge the clients. Look at other freelancers who have started recently.
If the rates are not disclosed publicly, you can pretend to be an interested potential client and ask them how much they charge for their services. Understanding the correct way to write an invoice for freelance work is essential for a smooth invoicing process.
Prop tip: Do not undersell your services. If you offer extremely low rates, it will work against you. Cheap prices are off-putting and give off the impression that you offer low-quality work.
3. Work on Your Portfolio
Treat your freelancer’s portfolio as you would a resume and cover letter while hunting for a day job.
The portfolio will be your selling point, backing up the claims of your experience. Potential clients will ask for a conversation, but it will be your portfolio that determines your capabilities.
You have to start working on your portfolio as soon as possible. During the transitional period, while still doing the day job, try to find some time to complete various projects and add them to the portfolio.
It can be mockup examples. Even if they are not a real thing, you can still showcase them as your experience.
Ideally, you should create a personal website and store your portfolio there. A proper site adds bonus points to sell yourself as a professional.
4. Find Your First Client
Juggling your 9 to 5 job and a freelancing gig on the side is a significant challenge. However, your transition cannot happen without actual clients.
In your spare time, reach out to various people you know from personal or professional connections. If you can, attend various events to make new acquaintances.
Social media is another source of leads. You can contact individuals and brands to promote your services.
Pitching is difficult, but it is an inevitable part of running a freelance business. Once you land your first client, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment. It is the first significant indication that you can survive as a freelancer.
5. Determine If You Can Go Freelance Full-Time
Once you land a client or two, you can start to seriously consider quitting your job. However, do not be too hasty.
You still need to consider all the risks that come with leaving your current job, specifically from the financial point of view.
If you are feeling comfortable and believe that quitting right now will give you even more motivation and time to build on your momentum, then the time is right.
6. Submit Your Resignation Letter
Your resignation is the last bit of business. Some people do not bother with giving a proper leave notice to their employers.
Acting in such a way is the opposite of what you should be doing. Burning bridges with a company that is possibly the best reference and a backup plan in case your freelancing career does not pan out would be unwise, to say the least.
No, you want to leave on a positive note. Tell the employer well in advance what your plan is and that you plan to resign. They should have enough time to find a replacement who you can help onboard within the company.
Different organizations have different resignation policies. Follow yours so you have no regrets about leaving.
All in all, transitioning from a full-time job to freelancing feels like an overwhelming undertaking. There are hardly any guarantees that you will succeed, and even if you do, the road to establishing your prominence in the industry is with a plethora of bumps in the way.
Nevertheless, because freelancing offers more control and flexibility as a work option, more and more people think about giving it a go.
You might find a new and fulfilling career. And if you fail to meet your expectations, you should still be able to return to the same or similar line of work you left.