Looking to quit your full-time day job and become a freelancer? There are many people with great jobs who still choose to quit to pursue freelancing full-time. As a freelancer, you will have the time and location freedom in your work since you don’t have fixed working hours, and you also don’t need to drive out and stuck in the traffic jam, which saves you a lot of time and energy in traveling.
Many people start freelancing as a hobby or side job for extra income and then move to freelance full-time when they get a more stable income from it. But if you are well-prepared and acknowledged the risks, you may straight away start your freelancing journey full-time for what you are passionate about.
If that’s your plan and you are still unsure about whether you can commit to a full-time freelancing career in your current situation, the following steps will help you figure it out.
Before you start your freelancing journey, the first thing you need to have is a vision. Preparation of mind always come first before action. Think about these questions:
- What do you want to achieve?
- What’s your goal?
- What’s the purpose of your business?
- Which direction are you heading?
You have to make sure that you have a crystal clear picture in your mind and confidence in what you are going to do. Then, write down your business plan with specific goals, ideas, and set a brand name (or use your name) with a business slogan (the purpose of your freelance business). Once you have a clear vision (the path your business need to follow), you are ready for the next step.
2. Decide Your Freelancing Business Structure
You can either start your freelance business as a legal entity by registering it as a limited liability company or run it as a sole proprietorship. Both ways are acceptable; you may want to do some research on the pros and cons before decide (and you can change later on, so no worries).
If you are unsure, seek help from the professionals to take care of all the legal matters properly. After that, depending on the size of your business, you may need to consult an accountant for tax and accounting matter.
3. Freelancing Opportunities
It could be hard to get your first client if you don’t know where to find your freelancing opportunities. You need to think about where you can get your freelancing projects based on your business nature.
If you are unsure, I have few ideas for you:
- You can look for the right connections from local by joining as many networking and meetup events nearby where you lived and proactively network with other participants. Once found, be prepared to take up any opportunities and go for it (even you are not fully equipped with the skills necessary yet).
- You focus on interacting with few companies for freelancing projects on a long-term basis. If you can find just a few companies impressed with your work, you will get consistent freelance projects for years.
- You may discover project opportunities from freelancing platforms with large user base like Upwork and Freelancer.com.
When you are just starting, it’s quite tricky to get a freelance project as your profile is new and have no review. So you have to lower down your rate to a minimum to secure a freelance task.
Also, the first few projects are critical, make sure you complete with 200% efforts to impress your clients and to make them leave the best review on your profile. Once you have a good amount of positive reviews, you can then raise your rate while still getting consistent freelance jobs from clients.
4. Marketing Materials & Platforms
To increase the conversion rate, you need to have excellent marketing material to promote you and your business. From graphical designs to text contents, make sure they are convincing enough to bring you a client. To catch your potential client’s attention, you need a superb pitch. That’s one of the elements that differentiate you from the other freelancers.
Here are some tips for crafting your pitch:
- Research and understand your potential client’s needs thoroughly.
- Craft a nice, simple and straightforward proposition. Keep it short and precise.
- Express your vision and passion in what you are doing and offering.
- Emphasizes your strengths and capabilities, and how you can help them in reaching their goals with your work.
Next, build a professional website to showcase your experiences, skills, expertise, portfolios, and testimonials (if any).
Also, go ahead to create some social network accounts to widen your reach, as nearly one-third of the world uses social networks regularly. To not get overwhelming in managing your social network accounts, choose one or two that are more relevant to your freelance nature：
- Facebook – General
- Twitter – Business & Marketing
- LinkedIn – Professional services
- Instagram – Travel & Lifestyle
- Pinterest – Graphical & Interior Design
- Github – Programming & Software development
- Youtube – Fitness, Singing, and more
If your business activities involve networking with people, order a few boxes of business cards to be given away during networking sessions. Once your marketing materials and platforms are ready, reach out to your friends, families, and connections and let them know about your freelance business so that they can start sending referrals to you.
Do you know what the success formula that makes your clients chase you for taking their projects is? It is Portfolios. Portfolios play an essential part in your freelancing career by showing your experiences and capabilities in what you are offering.
Most of your potential clients would like to see some of your completed projects to decide whether you are the right person for them to engage with. So if you yet to have a good set of portfolios, spend some time to work it out and make sure the qualities are top notch as it will directly affect the number of clients you are going to get.
An extensive portfolio is like a referral system, you delivered a good work and let it promote itself to bring in other clients.
6. Commercial Documents
There are some commercial documents you need to get ready before you start taking in any jobs, such as invoices template, price quotations template, pricing references, tax, and accounting system (or template). You can start with a simple template and improve along the way. Just download some sample templates from the web and modify it.
7. Find Clients
Once you have finished the above preparations, it’s time to secure some clients and start building your customers base. To do that, what you need is the exposure to your website (which consists of the introduction of yourself, your pitches, and your portfolios), and the more, the better. So, your job is to send people to your website using various ways and let it promote the business for you.
At this moment, you may still keep your day job while spending your spare time to look for clients and deliver your works. It’s a safer way if you have a lot of commitments, as you can start building the initial momentum while getting your paycheck every month. If you feel like quitting your job right now to dive in full time, make sure you have enough cash in your bank accounts to survive the take-off period.
8. Keep Improving Yourself
To ensure the positive growth of your freelancing business, it’s important to keep improving your skills and capabilities. Reading is an excellent way to improve your skills, knowledge, and thinking. Pick some personal development books or books that relevant to your business and read them periodically. Reviews your past projects to figure out what can be improved further and learn from the mistakes.
Understand yourself deeper by doing a personality test to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Then, avoid your weaknesses and fully utilize your strengths in your business to get the most out of it. Also, practice and improve your time management skill to manage your business activities efficiently for higher productivity.
Want to increase your earning per hours further? Well, who doesn’t? Then you have to improve your proficiency to shorten the projects delivery time (fewer hours spent for the same amount of earning).
But remember, don’t overwork yourself, learn when to slow it down or say “No” if needed.
9. Believe in Yourself
Confidence is the core element to keep you and your freelancing business going. If you are doubts about your abilities in getting success on what you’re doing, you will not get it (most of the time). How are you going to promote yourself if you are not confident?
Since you had decided this is the path that you’re going to take, then why let the challenges, fears, and obstacles take over your thoughts? Just keep the focus on the result and go for it. In business, there’s always ups and downs (it’s normal), that’s why you have to be firm and believe in what you are doing. Sometimes, it’s ok to have doubts (you are a human right), just that you need to learn how to overcome it quickly and think positively.
The entrepreneurial journey is full of challenges and uncertainties, so make sure you are mentally prepared for the freelancing career, especially if you are quitting your day job to pursue it full time. But when you’ve genuinely confirmed that it’s the path you want, then don’t be afraid of holding your ground and get it for whatever it takes.
Just make sure you’ve done your best part in preparations to mitigate or avoid the risks. If that’s what you are up to, follow the above steps and kickstart your freelancing career now!