Research shows that by 2027, more than 86 million Americans will be freelancers. That’s more than 50% of the United States workforce! While some of those people will be freelancing part-time, millions will also be people who have left the traditional workforce entirely.
Although the thought of leaving a 9-5 job to freelance can be exciting, it’s also a major step that should be taken very seriously.
If you’re thinking about making the jump to become a full-time freelancer, we’re here to help.
This article will give you an idea of what you will need to become a freelancer, what you should do to achieve success, and what obstacles may await you on this path.
Understand What It Means To Be A Freelancer
The word free is what most people are attracted to when they think of freelancing. Freelancers have the ability to create their own schedules and typically work as much or as little as they want. This sounds great on the surface, but depending on the way you prefer to work it can actually turn out to be a nightmare.
Meeting deadlines is a very important part of being a freelancer. Before you decide to enter the freelancing world full-time, you’ll want to make sure you’re able to stay on top of yourself to get things done.
Also keep in mind that freelance income can be a bit inconsistent. Unlike a traditional job, you won’t be getting a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks, and the checks you do get won’t always be the same amount. Freelancers are also responsible for setting aside money for their yearly income tax. When it comes to the financial aspect, talking to a professional in the field is a good place to start.
Think you’ve got the hang of this part? Great, now you’re ready for the next step.
Start Building up Freelance Skills Before You Leave Your Job
You know you’ve got the skills for your 9-5, but freelance work is a little bit different. The process of hiring an employee is costly and time-consuming for most companies, so most businesses will train new employees to bring them up to speed. However, in freelance work, companies are expecting contractors to show up with the skills they need to do the job. The first thing you’ll want to do is identify the exact type of freelance work you plan to do. Picking a specific skill within a specific niche can be a great way to show clients that you really know a lot about the industry you’ll be working in.
Before you decide to strike out into the freelance world, you’ll definitely want to work on your skills. You may even want to start taking on freelance work on a part time basis to get an idea of what you can expect when you go full-time.
Identify Your Target Customer
Finding customers and new projects is a major problem for every freelancer. At least, it is so in the first few years of work, until you have earned a name and reputation, which will be enough for customers to start looking for you and come for recommendations. But how to find the right customers?
Freelancing is a microbusiness, and any business starts with defining the target audience. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will end up appealing to no one.
You should analyze what services you can offer and how they help people. For example, you create landing pages, and it helps entrepreneurs and business owners present their product profitably, sell it, and collect leads. Or you deal with design and can help the companies illustrate their articles, personalize the site, find their unique style, and so on.
Once you find contact points between your proposal and the customer's needs, you can identify your exact target audience. Freelancers are most often hired by project/product managers, marketers, business assistants, and entrepreneurs.
Create a Portfolio
A portfolio is essentially like a resume for freelancers. A well-designed portfolio can either elevate you in the eyes of potential customers or move you to the list of unacceptable candidates. This is your advantage in the fight for the client, try to use it correctly.
Below are some tips for creating a portfolio that will attract potential clients:
Add the information that will benefit you in the eyes of the customer: education, achievements, professional development, work experience.
Add your contacts, links to profiles on social networks, customer feedback on completed projects.
Select 10-15 of your best works.
Structure your portfolio well, make it a reflection of your personality. The text should be bright and attract attention with its originality, literacy, and brevity.
Do not forget to update your portfolio and make it more dynamic.
If you are new to freelancing and it is still difficult to make a portfolio yourself from scratch, use ready-made templates or examples from reputable freelancers.
Define Your Services and Pricing
Setting the right price is an art. If your prices are too low, people won’t think you’re an experienced professional. If it's too high, people will look for cheaper alternatives. It’s important to note, however, that your prices should also make sense for your target customer. For example, if you are marketing yourself to small businesses, you want to set price points that will be attractive to them.
Here are a few tips to calculate a reasonable price:
Find out how much other performers charge for the work. Analyze prices on freelance platforms, social networks, and specialized channels.
Calculate Your Expenses
Remember that once you start freelancing, you’re technically running your own company, so it’s important to think like a business. Estimate rates based on your own costs. Determine the required amount per month and divide it by business hours. Then, calculate the time it takes to complete each project and multiply it by the cost of the hour.
Develop Expert Level Skill
To put it simply, the better you are at what you do, the more you’ll be able to charge. As you grow your freelance business, your prices will likely increase as your skill set does. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your prices from time to time to be sure you’re still charging what you’re worth.
Create A Marketing Strategy
No matter what type of work you do as a freelancer, you’ll probably have a lot of competition. Sometimes, the only thing that really sets you apart from your competition (besides your unique personality, of course) is a good marketing strategy. The reality is that a business can’t hire someone they don’t even know exists, so getting yourself and your work out there is a must.
When thinking of the perfect marketing strategy for your freelance business, you’ll want to meet your target customers where they are. For example, if you know the people you’re looking to work with will likely be avid social media users, consider building a strong social media presence and running some ads aimed at the people you hope to attract.
According to experts from a popular writing company, Essay Tigers, you can also utilize the powers of inbound marketing by creating a website full of great content that your target audience is likely to find useful. Once they visit your website and see how informative your content is, they will be more likely to do business with you. Additionally, you can use your website as a way to collect people’s email addresses and in turn create a strong email marketing strategy.
Other Important Things to Know Before Starting Your Full-Time Freelance Career
Now that you know which steps you need to follow to become a top-notch freelancer, there are a few more things you should keep in mind.
Be Prepared for Slow Periods
No one is able to avoid downtime when there are no orders. It is vital to be ready for such a situation. Be sure to create a financial cushion for yourself, setting aside a small amount from each project. Use this reserve when there are no orders and money. You should also think about finances for your vacation well in advance.
Learn to Say No
Distribute your time and energy correctly. Do not grab all the work offered. You will not earn all the money, just the headache, physical and mental exhaustion. You should prioritize deadlines and the quality of your performance.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Don’t forget that being your own boss doesn't mean that you can take unlimited time off. In the freelance world, there’s no such thing as a paid day off. You only get paid for the work you do, so it’s important not to get too laid back with yourself.
If you’re constantly debating whether or not you should quit your job to freelance, you may be ready to make the leap. However, only you know when the time is right.
Although the thought of leaving a job can be overwhelming, preparation is truly the key to becoming a full-time freelancer. If you keep our helpful tips in mind, you might find that the transition is easier than you thought.