Ok, you are tired of working for someone else. You are bored with your work life. You want freedom and independence. You want to increase your earning potential. You want to work on your own time and on your own terms. Plain and simply you’ve just had enough and are ready to quit your current job and become a Freelancer.
Stop! Wait a minute!
Before you make that move are you really sure Freelancing is right for YOU?
In reality, far too many people jump ship and join the ranks of freelancing because it sounds easy. They have it in their heads that they will have a more relaxing work environment, be able to wake up whenever they want, work whenever they want, in pjs if they want, and take time off whenever they want. They believe too that they can be really selective of the clients and projects they take on, and make enormous sums of money.
And sure these are some of the perks of being a freelancer. But the reality is there are quite a few trials and tribulations to go through before you reach this point. You simply cannot quit your current job to start a new life as a freelancer and expect to suddenly have hundreds of potential clients lined up for you to take on their projects. Sadly, it just doesn’t work that way. There is so much more to freelancing and things you need to know and consider to make it in this oftentimes highly competitive world.
First of all you need to realize that in the beginning you most likely will not be able to survive financially with just the money you make from freelancing. It may take quite some time before you can. So, if you are seriously thinking about quitting your job, hold off a while. Test the waters first by taking on a few projects or clients on the side, and see how it works for you. See if you like freelancing, can handle the pressures, and get an idea of your realistic income.
Second, as a newbie, you need to work on getting yourself established and known. This means taking on clients whose projects may not be all that challenging or rewarding, and certainly won’t pay as much as you would really like to make or think you are worth. In the end though, it will surely pay off. Every project gives you more confidence and experience, and adds to your portfolio. Also, these clients may have other projects to send your way once they know they can depend on you. They may even sing your praises to their associates. Abundance of patience is definitely required.
You have to figure out what your financial needs are to support yourself and your family. Will you be able to bring in enough well-paying work to maintain your current lifestyle? Do you have savings to fall back on, or does your spouse have an income that can help carry everything while you are building your business? Are there personal sacrifices that can be made for at least a while until you reach the income level you desire to achieve?
What about your benefit package at your work? Can you live without it? Or can you afford to pay premiums on a private plan? Better yet, does your spouse have a plan that you can take advantage of instead? Medical expenses can add up quickly, and you need to be prepared.
These are all very important questions that you have to ask yourself before you type up your resignation letter.
Aside from the financial considerations, how are you at working under pressure and within tight deadlines? Keep in mind that you will at times be faced with projects that require long hours and a lot of hard work in order to finish them. Other projects may have what seem like ridiculous or ever changing timelines imposed by your client. And again, you may encounter clients who just can’t make up their minds. Can you handle the stress of these situations? Are your time management skills up to the challenge? Are you willing to put in whatever it takes? How are you in dealing with difficult people? With conflict resolution?
Your reputation and integrity are constantly on the line, and these are things you always have to think about and be prepared for. If you cannot return the finished work to the client on time and in order, or if you have a falling out, you can certainly expect to be discredited by that client, but you could also have trouble finding work going forward. You need to have your plans in place on how you would deal with potential situations, and internal mechanisms to keep your emotions in check.
Now what about your own work habits? How and when do you work best? Are you a team player that thrives in that kind of environment, or do you work best alone? Do you need others to motivate or inspire you or can you do that to yourself and for yourself? Are you self-disciplined enough to keep on track? As a freelancer you are your own team and your own boss, and you have only you to rely on. There is no one else but you. So while you may work well on a team, you need to work even better on your own.
Finally, how is your self-esteem and knowledge of your area of expertise? Do you have enough of both to be able to promote yourself as the best one for the job? You must always be ready, willing, and able to advertise yourself and your services to just about anyone.