They say that you’re never truly “ready” for anything. If you want to do the jump, go for it, right? Not quite if you’re quitting your day job to become a full-time freelancer.
Freelancing definitely offers many perks. You get to call the shots on every aspect of your work, from setting your own hours to deciding which projects to take. You can work from home, the coffee shop, or by the beach. There’s practically no ceiling on the opportunities and flexibility available to you in the gig economy.
However, for all the excitement and freedom that accompany being a freelancer, there’s also a lot of work and hustle that go right along with it.
Here are a few practical ways to know if you’re ready to do it full time.
You can’t just go freelance without having a strong network to turn to or offer you work. Whether it’s through your full-time job, social media, or other avenues, you need to be well-connected in order to be successful in freelancing.
If you haven’t already, make the most of your current personal and professional relationships. When you hear cues like “you should start your own business” or “I wish I could just hire you directly” from your connections, then maybe you should take that as a sign to go freelance.
Additionally, you need to be willing to be a little aggressive and actively introduce yourself to new people. Networking and cold pitching are going to be some of the core ways you land freelance clients and grow your business.
You don’t need to be an extrovert to be a freelancer; in fact, you’ll probably be doing most of your work totally alone. However, if the very idea of networking and cold pitching doesn’t sit well with you, you may want to reconsider becoming a full-time freelancer.
You can also tap into networks that are available to you online, such as Facebook groups for freelancers and like-minded individuals. The GetCraft Marketplace is also a great place to start building connections with brands and other creative professionals.
New freelancers have to compete with others who have already been at it for a longer period of time, so it might be difficult to land projects at the beginning.
With that, your chances go way higher if you are already experienced in your chosen field, ideally from your tenure as a full-time employee. You’re more likely to understand the ins and outs of the industry and know how to talk to the client in their jargon.
If you don’t have experience, you can also demonstrate your skill level by having a portfolio to show for it. Whatever the case, it will be your job to show clients that you are more than capable of performing the services that you offer.
You want to be your own boss? Then you need to be self-motivated. As a freelancer, you’ll no longer have a supervisor to assign you tasks, check on your progress, and reinforce deadlines. You will only be accountable to yourself (and of course, your client) — and that can be a challenge for a lot of people.
Successful freelancers have to be proactive about marketing themselves, finding new clients, learning new skills, networking, and growing their business. Additionally, you must be willing and ready to do even the boring bits: taxes, social security, billing, sales, contracts, etc. (Though you can always, always ask for help.)
If you’re confident that you can keep yourself highly motivated, then freelancing might be for you.
As a full-time freelancer, you won’t get the security of a steady paycheck. There will be some financial risk involved in starting any business, so it’s important to have enough cushion in case your first few months start slower than you anticipated.
How much should you have in the bank before taking the plunge? Financial experts say that the rule of thumb for emergency funds is to have at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses.
It’s also important to note that starting your own business can be very stressful. You do not want to have the additional stress of not knowing if you can pay rent. If you feel ready to take on the financial risk involved in freelancing, it’s time to consider going full time.
If you have yet to take on small gigs on top of your 9-5, then it might be safe to say that you are not ready. Doing it as a side hustle will give you an idea of what it will be like and how much you can make if you do it full time.
More importantly, if you haven’t been doing it on the side, even as a personal project, why do you even want to do it full time? For all the benefits that freelancing has to offer, it will take some serious work in order to become successful at it. If you don’t feel passionate about your craft enough to work on it on top of your dayjob, then you may want to reconsider leaving your 9-5 for it.
Being a full-time freelancer is not for everyone. That means it’s important to take your time to weigh the pros and cons, and consider these pieces of advice to know if you are ready to do it full time. A practical approach can’t hurt as you navigate your way from being employed to pursuing your passion.
For more articles about freelancing, productivity, and creativity, visit the Crafters.