More and more people are going freelance. It can be a terrifying decision, though, and while there are plenty of risks, the rewards can often be greater. The promise of flexibility, independence, and the ability to set their compensation have lured many people away from their cushy office jobs. However, success in freelancing also requires immense amounts of dedication and discipline.
Many people think that years of experience in a full-time position are enough for freelance work. They’ll soon realize that trading their cubicle for a virtual office isn’t as simple as they originally thought. Freelancing requires a different set of skills, both hard and soft.
Plan your transition
You can’t just hand in your two weeks’ notice today and expect that everything will fall into place after. If you want to set yourself up for success, you need to prepare for your transition to freelancing. The planning begins once you’ve decided to leave your full-time job. But don’t quit just yet. There are a few things you need to do first.
For starters, you need to line up a few clients before quitting your old job. This ensures you’ll have a steady pool of work right away. If you’re not sure where to start, you might want to check the market demand for your skill. Finally, there may be lean periods, I also recommend having three to six months’ worth of savings on hand. Once you’ve settled the fundamentals, you can then move on to the next step.
Set up your system
Since you’re working for yourself, you also have to do everything yourself. That includes things like pricing, billing, milestone tracking, and contract writing, to name a few. You need to set up your system before you start taking on clients to minimize the disorganization during your transition.
Make sure you know how to keep track of your hours, manage individual projects, and bill properly. You also might want to hire a lawyer to draft a standard contract for your clients. It helps to have templates on hand so you can just print one out when needed.
Know your price
One common mistake freelancers make is charging too low at the beginning of their new career. While you might have less bargaining power if you haven’t established a relationship with a potential client, you shouldn’t be afraid to charge what you think you’re worth. If you know you can deliver, then your pricing shouldn’t be an issue.
Another thing you should consider is whether to bill your clients for hourly work or to cite a figure for the entire project. Hourly rates may work for lawyers, but it’s not necessarily the best system for freelancers. You have to break down every hour of work, which allows your client to scrutinize the billing. A set rate per project requires less work.
These things will help you prepare for a life of freelancing. Once you’ve gotten a hang of freelancing, start thinking of ways to streamline your processes and improve your output so you can increase your rate.