Starting out as a freelancer can be scary, and the decision to do so isn’t one you make overnight. In fact, it’s one people generally agonise over for weeks or months and thrash out with their significant other, freelancers they know, the postman and anyone else who will listen. While it’s good to get people’s opinions, there’s one very important thing to remember when it comes to taking the leap:
No-one else can tell you whether or not to do this. No matter how much you talk about it with other people, it’s your decision to make. And once you’ve made it, that’s when the fun really starts…
Image by Thrive Solo
Art Anthony is a freelance copy writer. He knows what it feels like to go freelance and has turned his own experiences into this really helpful article packed with good advice. This is just an extract, the original article was published on blog.thrivesolo.com.
Here are the most important hings to keep in mind when you dive into the adventure of going freelance:
Don’t go in blind.
Before you hand your notice in, if you’re in fulltime employment that is, try to put out some feelers as to whether anyone you know might be able to pass you some freelance work when you’re starting out. That goes for everyone from previous employers to contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn. Hopefully it goes without saying that you should do your best to be discreet if you don’t want someone else to break the news to your boss.
A lot of people recommend saving up a ‘nest egg’ equivalent to six months worth of rent and expenses before you go freelance, but this might not be quite as essential as some make out – after all, if someone acquired your company tomorrow and turfed out all the existing employees the majority of people would get a one month severance package at most. Don’t let fear of not having enough money saved up make this decision for you!
When you do hand your notice in, be gracious, polite and thank them for everything the company has done for you. Even if your boss isn’t in a position to use you on a freelance basis they might be able to put you in touch with someone who can or, failing that, provide you with a positive reference or testimonial for your shiny new site.
More on that shiny new site…
Spike Jonze once said that he liked “hiring people based on a feeling - this person gets it - rather than what they've done in the past.” Unfortunately, you’re (probably) not going to be applying to work with Spike Jonze. A great CV, cover letter and/or introduction will only get you so far. Before long, people are going to want to see what you can do.
The best way to do that is to showcase your talent with a slick looking portfolio site. One mistake a lot of people make is that they put their most recent work in their portfolio because…well, because it’s still sat on their desktop. The real trick is to fill your portfolio with work you’re so proud of that you want to talk about it for hours. And then MAKE SURE you list plenty of contact details (email address, LinkedIn, Twitter, phone number…pick your poisons) so you can, hopefully, do just that.
How to find new clients!
Once you’re all set up with your new laptop in your home office, your beautiful new website set as your homepage naturally, it’s very tempting just to sit there and wait for the phone to ring. It won’t. At least, not right away! A huge factor in being successful when you’re starting out is whether or not you’re willing to hustle.
From attending local networking events and seeking out the best agencies to register with to combing through Twitter and job boards for relevant vacancies, you ideally need to be reaching out to anyone and everyone who might be able to pass you some work. Once you’ve got some freelance projects under your belt and developed a reputation as someone affordable, efficient and easy to work with, that’s when word will spread and the phone will start to ring!
Finding clients, along with doing your own accounts, arranging meetings and possibly even making your own tea, is one of those things that can come as a shock to the system if you’ve been in full-time employment for a while. Fortunately, like most things, it gets easier with practice. You’ll soon learn which of your past projects have the wow factor it takes to get prospective clients to sit up and take notice of what you’re saying.
All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl.
Try not to forget what led you to starting out as a freelancer in the first place. Chances are that it was so you didn’t have to spend 8 hours in a cubicle every day week in, week out, going the extra mile without so much as a thank you for it. Take days off, go outside and enjoy the sunshine, and don’t be afraid to say no to work you know you’re going to hate.
It sounds clichéd, but freelancing really is one of the most rewarding decisions you’ll ever make. Note that I say rewarding, not best – there are times when you’ll find yourself frustrated by demanding clients, stressed out about late payers and tired of hustling to the extent that you may want to throw in the towel and re-enter the full-time workforce. Before you do anything hasty, take a deep breath and remember why you left it in the first place.
For those of you who are already self-employed, hopefully this article has reminded you why you took the leap. For those still thinking about starting out as a freelancer, we hope that this post has some tips you might find helpful and we wish you all the luck in the world!
“It is so hard to leave – until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” – John Green, Paper Towns
Read the whole article on blog.thrivesolo.com