How to smoothly make the switch from full-time to freelance
A 2016 study by freelance site, Upwork, found that as much as 35% of the American workforce are now freelancing for a living. That’s about 53 million people.
This figure is expected to rise to 50% by 2020 and similar freelance growth has been seen in Ireland and Europe. A Close Brothers Commercial Finance report found that up to half of all businesses in Ireland now employ freelancers.
Making this change may seem like a daunting prospect but these tips and tricks will help the transition run smoothly.
1. Be prepared for the change
One of the biggest factors that makes people change to freelancing is simple. Money. When preparing to quit your contract job, make extra savings where possible to ensure you have a nice cash cushion to fall back on until your first freelancing gig pays you.
During this time of change, it’s important to remember your worth as both a professional and an individual. You have something worthwhile to offer your clients and that is the key to a successful freelancing career.
Make a detailed estimate of your ideal yearly income. Keep this goal in mind while freelancing. It’s also worth reassessing your monthly budget for things like transport, groceries and rent.
Ensure you send off invoices for work with enough time that payment arrives before the rent is due. Be careful not to overcharge for work as this may deter the same clients from working with you again in the future.
2. Use your network
Your own contacts list can be a valuable source of information in the freelance world. Ask a friend or colleague who’s already working as a freelancer for a cup of coffee. A simple conversation about freelancing from those with first-hand experience can help you decide on making the switch. Test the waters by getting one or two small freelance roles at evenings or weekends alongside your full-time position.
Don’t forget that your social media channels will prove invaluable as a way of getting in touch with people in the loop. Twitter and LinkedIn are the best options for a professional presence on social networks.
3. Be organised
One of the big advantages of freelancing is being your own boss. That also means having the same level of organisational skills when it comes to meetings, deadlines and pitching. Being your own boss requires a high level of self-discipline to ensure you stay organised. You’re effectively selling your time and that is a precious commodity.
Take full advantage of online storage and calendar tools available such as Google Drive, Docs and Calendar. Keep all your media industry contacts in one easy to follow Excel spreadsheet.
4. Where to work from?
One of the main attractions of freelancing is escaping the boring old cubicle you’ve been staring at for too long. If you find a home office too distracting, a shared coworking space is a great solution.
For freelancers looking for opportunities to collaborate and network, communal spaces allow an opportunity to work alongside other like-minded professionals, while offering flexibility and scalability.
If your needs change as a freelancer, serviced offices allow you to easily move from a desk in an open floor plan, to a private office suite.
5. Shout from the rooftops!
Part of working as a freelancer is building your own brand and marketing yourself to the right clients. The right brand of self-promotion will prove magnetic in attracting future work. In essence you become a walking CV and let the quality of your work or portfolio do the talking.
This takes a level of confidence, but advertising yourself can easily be done through sites such as freelancer.ie or People Per Hour. Sites such as these allow you to upload a portfolio, list your skills and experience and state which field you want to work in.