Quitting your job to go freelance full-time is the ultimate dream for many, but it’s also scary as hell. From being terrified about being responsible for your own salary, to not knowing how to find regular work or how much to charge, it can feel safer to just stay in your current job, even though that no longer works for your lifestyle. Here’s The Ambition Plan’s quick guide on how to launch a freelance career in just six months.
- Make the decision to leave and commit to it by marking your leaving date in your diary.
- Check your employment contract for your notice period. Mark the date you need to hand in your notice in your diary too.
- Get clear on what exactly you will do as a freelancer. Even if you want to carry on doing your current job, just on a freelance basis, you will still need to be crystal clear about what aspects of your job you will and won’t offer as a service.
- Decide on your business format – because as a freelancer you are actually running a business. Will you be a sole trader or set up as a limited company? Check the government’s gov.uk site for more details on how to get set up.
- Start saving as much of your salary as you can spare. Put this into a rainy day fund to cover for any shortfalls that may (definitely) occur while you are getting set up as a freelancer. See our article on how to save enough money to quit your job for tips on doing this.
- Start laying the groundwork with potential clients. But take care to not alert your current employer to your plans – unless you have handed in your notice or you are on very good terms and intend to convert your employer into a freelance client as well.
- Clean up your LinkedIn profile and make sure it emphasises the skills you will be offering as part of your freelance services. Take things a step further by asking old colleagues and clients to leave a recommendation for you or provide you with a testimonial about your abilities.
- Reignite old professional relationships to see if they have any upcoming opportunities for freelancers. If your contacts aren’t hiring, ask if they know anyone who is.
- Do the maths on your monthly outgoings. How much money do you need to make each month to live comfortably?
- Do your market research to find out what an average, good and excellent hourly and day rate is. The best way to do this is to simply ask freelancers in your industry or join freelancer forums and facebook groups.
- Once you know the highest and lowest rates on the market, choose a rate you are comfortable with charging and then work out how many clients you will need each month to hit your monthly income target.
- Prepare your website, marketing materials and portfolio. You will be amplifying your client search next month, so take the time to make sure you can provide any potential client with samples that show an impressive body of your work.
- Amplify your efforts to find clients. Do not overlook word of mouth and those who you have worked with. Ask friends, family, ex-colleagues, current colleagues, search social media, join freelance job boards, Facebook groups and attend industry-related networking events. Keep going until you have enough clients on board to feel comfortable about handing in your resignation.
- It’s also wise to try and take on clients who have a long-term task they need you to work on. Negotiate a monthly retainer, rather than working on one-off jobs that have no scope for recurring. Adopting this tactic will prevent you from having to make a desperate scramble for work every month.
- Ask your current employer about freelance work. There are a few sneaky ways to maximise the chances of being kept on as a freelancer by your employer, and these include spearheading a new money-making initiative for your employer just before you leave. As the brains of the operation, you will be invaluable to the project for however long it takes to get it off the ground. Be sure to make this known when you state your case to your employer and present the opportunity of carrying on as a freelancer as one to help them rather than yourself.
- Set up your systems and get all your paperwork in order.
- As a freelancer, you’ll need to make sure things like invoicing, taking payments, VAT, keeping records etc. are all automated and ready to go once you start your new freelance business.
- Give yourself a big pep talk and dedicate time to boosting your confidence and self-belief. Setting up a business is hard work and will not always be easy. As a freelancer – especially when starting out – you will have dry spells where work will be scarce and you will doubt yourself. If you can develop a practice that helps you stay positive and keep believing in yourself, you will weather any storm that hits.
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