That’s what life is all about...not knowing the future. Just because you get a paycheck today, doesn’t mean you will in a few months. Companies close, move, downsize, etc. Nothing is truly forever. Except diamonds. Diamonds are forever.
The definitive guide to going Freelance.
Making the leap to full time freelance
Why Should You Go Freelance Full Time?
We’ve already talked about why you should freelance on the side. The reasons for making the leap to full time are not much different. The global economy has changed the working landscape and is resulting in organizations looking for opportunities to cutback and be more efficient.
While this issue transcends into a reality where there is a lack of security within your employment, it also presents an opportunity for you. People who are willing to take the risk of entrepreneurship and try their hand at freelancing are able to capitalize on the fact that these organizations still have gaps to fill on critical and timely projects. This is where you decide it’s time to make the jump from doing this on the side, to doing this full time.
If you’re still nervous about the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, ask yourself what you really want out of life. Do you have an itch that makes you think being your own boss is something you would want to do? Does the idea of building a business and potentially hiring people appeal to you? Or maybe, you want the freedom and flexibility to work wherever you want, whenever you want. These are the things you have to ask yourself:
Are you willing
to take a risk?
Do you want to
build your own
Will you regret
not taking this
chance 15 years
The leap from freelancing on the side to freelancing full time is a scary jump. But that fear is often your own brain playing tricks on you and giving you excuses why you shouldn’t do it.
One of the most common excuses is that there’s too much competition, when in reality, competition is a good thing. It’s an indicator that someone else has made it work. It’s also an opportunity to identify their weaknesses and turn them into your strengths. Thousands of successful businesses have found success on the coattails of another organization. You just need to find your own unique edge that appeals to a specific type of client.
Whether you’re a writer, designer, copywriter, marketer, PR pro, illustrator, trainer, or any one of the dozens of other freelance professions, you have to seek out and look for opportunities. You need to identify organizations, industries and people who are looking for the skills that you offer. Once you’ve done that, you need to ensure that you’ve set yourself up for success in the coming months after you hand in your two weeks notice to your manager or boss.
Some people think that running a business is as easy as landing a job. I’ll be honest in telling you that going full time into freelancing isn’t close to the same structure as working for the man. You don’t have a manager telling you what to do and when to do it. You need to be okay with a bit of uncertainty, have a lot of faith in yourself and embrace the idea of stumbling and learning as you go.
Here are a few ways that you can make your jump to freelance less stressful:
1. Create Your Launch Materials While Working The 9 to 5
A) Brand Message: While you’re still employed, you can start working on the language that will tell the story around the services you offer. You should take time while you’re still employed to really understand your business model and who your ideal customers will be. This process will make it easier for you to sell your services when you go full time. When you eventually do leave you want all your time focused on client work, so completing this process beforehand will let you hit the ground running and already be able to communicate your unique selling proposition.
PRO TIP: Focus your message on a core market. If you’re a copywriter who specializes in tourism and travel writing or a designer who specializes in infographics and websites – own that niche. Don’t be a generalist.
B) Build A Website: In a world where digital technology rules the way we interact, a website is a critical tool for any modern day freelancer. While employed, you can start laying the foundation of your business by working on the development and design of your freelance website. In doing so, you’ll be able to launch the site as soon as you’re no longer employed and start gathering leads.
PRO TIP: If you’ve never built a website before and have no idea where to start, you should check out www.themeforest.net or www.templamatic.com for easy to use themes that can be installed on your server and customized to your brand message.
C) Develop A Portfolio: In the service industry, you’re only as good as your last project. If you’ve built strong relationships with existing clients and your existing employer, they should have no issues with you referencing work you’ve done when speaking with prospects. It’s important to showcase your work so people can gauge how you’ll service them and what type of value you will offer their business.
PRO TIP: The launch materials need to be created after hours. Building this content and foundation while at your 9 to 5 is a risky play that could quickly result in an early dismissal. Work on this at home!
2. Lock In Your Current Employer As Your First Client
As discussed earlier in this chapter, many organizations are strapped for cash because of the expenses associated with employees. Your employer might be one of them. When you let him/her know that you’re leaving, express an interest in helping them out through the transition phase as a contractor. Give them a discount on your actual rate so they aren’t in a tough spot but also ensure that there is a set contract around the engagement so you aren’t working cheaply forever.
3. Line Up A Client Or Two Before Taking The Jump
Set yourself up to succeed when you go full time. Spend your last few months at your 9 to 5 building relationships with people who could be potential clients. The more you talk to people, the more you’ll find out about what services they’re looking for and who you could potentially help. Leverage conferences, coffee/lunch meetings and any other type of engagement where you can build a potential client relationship.
Once you’ve given your two weeks to your employer the client hunt is officially on. It’s time to start sending out emails letting people know what you’ll be doing. Here’s an example of what you can send to potential prospects, leads and existing contacts to inform them of your new journey:
Hey [First Name],
I hope this note finds you doing well. I’m just writing to let you know that as of [Date] I will no longer be working at [Company Name]. In fact, I’ll be moving on to a new adventure in which I’ll be running my own [your service] company. I’m excited and looking forward to this new chapter. I’ve already lined up a few projects that will keep me busy for the next few months but I’d be more than happy to discuss how any potential opportunities for us to work together down the road. How about we grab a coffee in the next week or two?
Let me know a couple times that work for you and we’ll set something up.
Look forward to hearing from you - Talk soon!
[Your New Website]
I recommend waiting until you have a big freelance project lined up before making the leap. Right before I put in my two weeks, I landed a job with a past client that paid $3,500. For me at the time, that was about as much as I made in one month at my full-time gig, so I knew that I had a one-month buffer to find more work, but that I was secure with enough cash to pay all my bills. That was also a huge fire under my ass to get out and sell.
4. Save Some Cash For A Rainy Day
Unfortunately, freelancing isn’t all sugarplums and lollipops. It’s going to be a roller coaster and on that roller coaster you might just hit a draught. For that reason, you should be saving some of your pay cheques, or at least putting some of it into a savings account, just in case you go a few weeks without a client or without any check. I know, it sounds scary but it’s the reality of the business. In the next chapter we’ll talk about how you can be better in ensuring you have that consistent cash flow, but for now playing it safe is the best back up plan.
I found it easier to set aside enough money to live comfortably on while I took a breather and worked on my new portfolio.
- Plan your exit strategy if you’re currently employed in a 9 to 5. It’s important that you use the consistent check as a security blanket while you build the foundation that will help you kick start your freelancing business on the right foot.
- Freelancing can open up new opportunities for personal growth, professional development, financial wealth and personal accomplishments.
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