Planning on Becoming a Full-time Freelancer? Read This Before You Take the Plunge

Jane craved freedom. Slogging away at her 9 to 5 job was destroying her passion and her motivation, leaving her a cranky young person who wanted to do so much more in life than be in a cubicle. She wanted to travel the world, wake up on her own hours, work in her pajamas and truly enjoy life without having to worry about corporate success. One day, Jane got lucky enough to land a full-time, remote marketing gig that enabled her to quit her job and start her freelance career. Initially, all was good. Two months into the work, however, she began to realize how little she slept and how tough it was for her to beat the social and cultural judgement as people kept thinking she was unemployed. Eventually, the instability of her only client’s payment constantly kept her at the edge. 

Jane’s story is not new. Being able to get away from a routine grind feels so fulfilling and relaxing until you realize that you practically jumped from one frying pan to another, only to see the other being more difficult to handle. Does that mean you have to give up and can never be a freelancer? No, but you need to be smarter in your approach and try to take practical steps to make the plunge as smooth as possible. 

Here are a few important tips for aspiring freelancers: 

1. Build Your Online Portfolio 

So often, we come across new freelancers agitated about not being able to find the right client. They do random gigs and are disappointed when things don’t work out. This happens only when you don’t have the right portfolio to support your line of work. A portfolio is a freelancer’s life line. Whether you’re a content writer, web designer, video animator, or anything else, you need to have a strong and updated portfolio. Clients always demand samples or portfolios and the lack of one could mean losing out on a potential position. 

2.  Opt for Online Courses and Certificates 

You may claim to be an expert in a certain line of work, but do you have certifications or courses to prove? These days, online courses and certificates are pretty much in demand and can greatly boost your chances of securing a good job. Remember, when you step into freelancing you are competing with millions of other freelancers across the globe and you can only outshine them if you have the credentials, recommendations and portfolio to prove that you are a reliable resource for the organization. 

3. Treat Your Freelance Career like a Business 

When you set out to start a freelance career, you are essentially starting a personal business. Like every other business, you need to have a strong plan, a detailed contract and proposal, a defined budget and other professional parameters such as hours dedicated to each job, on-site/off-site meetings, deliverables, etc. When you have everything written down and organized, you’ll have a clearer vision of what you want to do, who you want to work for and under what budget. Concrete planning will help you understand your limitations and will also help you identify what you need to do in order to carry out your career without losing your peace. 

4. Maintain a Professional Network 

Freelancing is a tough career path, no matter what they tell you. The moment you retreat to your comfort zone (working from your couch in your pajamas), you lose the opportunity to grow, excel and maintain a social as well as professional network. Try meeting new people, go for seminars, conferences or meetups. Have your own business card. Advertise your skills and your expertise. Reach out to people whose problems you can solve with your skills. Make friends, keep a professional connection and be active in the community you join and meet fellow freelancers. 

5. Be Sure of Your Ability to Freelance Before You Take the Plunge

Pop culture makes freelancing a very tempting opportunity. You can sit at home and earn money. Isn’t that the epitome of human happiness? As fancy as it sounds, freelancing is not an easy career to maintain. From unstable finances (not being paid regularly on time), to cranky clients, excessive work hours to lack of social acceptance, the field is filled with problems that you should be prepared to handle before you quit your job and become a freelancer. 

Remember, freelancing sounds cool, but with neck-to-neck competition, and plenty other hindrances, it is one that should be taken only after careful planning and self-assessment. If you really want to start a freelance career, initiate it as a side hustle and test waters. Once you’re comfortable, you can then quit your job to become a full-time freelancer. 

Photo from Unsplash

About the Author: A passionate storyteller, Farah Kim believes that words have the power to shape cultures and drive societies towards progressive change. Motivated by her curiosity, she discovers and shares stories that contributes to a better world.

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