Have you ever wanted to pull away from the corporate world and take your writing career into your hands? It can be a scary leap, but there are many benefits to becoming your boss. If you like the flexibility of setting your hours and working for yourself, leaving the corporate world to become a freelance writer may be the best step for you. Here are seven things to think about before you take the plunge.
Prepare for the Transition
Going from a consistent salary to being unsure of when you might get paid can put a damper on your experience of being a freelancer. It is critical to have sufficient funds saved up because getting your business off the ground may take some time.
Talk to the people in your life and make sure they are on board with your decision. If you happen to be the sole provider of health insurance for your family, you will want to ensure that you can afford to go out into the insurance marketplace and provide an adequate level of protection for those who depend on you for their care. If this is a challenge, you might want to consider health insurance a benefit of working for your current company that is a necessity you cannot live without.
Become Comfortable with Self Promotion
If your stomach becomes queasy at the thought of having to sell something, you will want to give becoming a freelancer considerable thought. What would I have to sell? This is is an honest question. The answer: yourself. You will have to be your advocate of your talents and services. Practice this with your family and friends if this is an uncomfortable idea to you.
You will essentially have to turn yourself into a brand. You will want potential clients to equate you and your business as one and the same. To build your brand, you will want to create a logo, get stacks of business cards with your name on them, and create a website for your business that showcases your skills. Possibly blog about a hobby or passion you have. You will have to use all avenues available to you to sell your talents and creativity.
Social media is another way to do this. Don’t be afraid to tell people how great your business is on Facebook, or to have past clients promote your skills on LinkedIn. However, word of mouth is even better, and you might have to humblebrag about your skills to get your first customers. Figure out how you can be confident enough to do this.
To expand your network, consider attending conferences and events related to your field. Go to Meetup, sign up for an account, and join groups relevant to your interests. Whenever the groups hold an event, be sure to join and network with like-minded people there.
You need to establish real relationships with people. Do not just take a simple introduction or a slip of a business card as a sign that this person will be a potential client. It is much more important to try to get to know the people you meet through networking. Try to find out the nature of what they do and how and why they do it, and how you might be of service to them in the future.
Evaluate Your Skills
It is important that you be honest with yourself about exactly what your skills are and why this makes your someone that people would want to hire. After all, competition in the freelance world can be fierce. Many people will be able to use the same software that you do, and might be able to underbid you when it comes to what you feel that your time is worth. What do you have that other people do not?
It is wise to look at sites that freelancers use to find jobs and compare yourself to what other people have to offer. If you feel you can compete, try getting your feet wet by pursuing some jobs and see how it feels. This will help you see what jobs are available and what the freelance marketplace is like.
Have Assignments Ready
It will be easier to quit your job and start freelancing if you have jobs lined up and ready to go. Being ready for success right out of the gate will be a great indicator of future success. Your first jobs might not be your ideal jobs, but everyone has to start somewhere. The most important thing is that you will get paid. This will provide you with the capital to get your business up and running and send you on your way to financial freedom.
Find Your Focus
It is natural to have mountains of enthusiasm for your new venture when you begin. You probably won’t survive if you do not. However, you want to ensure that you have reasonable expectations and goals for your business. Apple did not start out as the Apple you know now, it started in a garage.
Set short term and long term goals. Write them down and check in with your expectations frequently. Three months out, are you on track? Six months, a year? It is important to know exactly what you want to be doing and not to be floundering around because your goals are undefined. “Winging it” is not an option. There are great tools out there to help you stay focused on track.
Also, figure out the kind of clients you want to attract, how much your time is worth, and how you can best meet your customer’s needs.
Next, put together an impressive portfolio. Have a contingency plan for if you are not able to make your business pan out. Don’t feel sorry if you find that running your own business is not your cup of tea. Many people find they like the security of working for someone else.
There are lots of factors involved in how you get paid. There is the side of the client whom you should trust with your money. There have been cases of negligent clients who run away with your work and not pay you back. To avoid this from happen, you need to read cues of terrible clients so you can avoid working with them along with the inconvenience that they bring.
Another set of factors regarding payment comes from your side. While getting payment is of utmost importance to keep your freelance business afloat, some are just not into accounting or have unrefined organization skills. Keeping track of hours worked, invoices to be sent out, accounts receivable, work expenses, and the various accounts that money is going in and out of is a daunting task. Bad accounting has ruined many a business.
This can easily be solved by taking advantage of products as a free software such as ZipBooks. Instead of trying to keep track of it all on an untenable spreadsheet, ZipBooks allows you to enter easily in and keep track of all your accounting data. You can view paid invoices, your total amount of accounts receivable, work time logged, and outstanding accounts all in one place.
Motivation is Key
Freelancing can be crazier than a ride on your favorite roller coaster. You may feel that you are on top of the world one minute, and a complete failure the next.
Being positive is key. It is important that you be self-aware enough to know how to keep yourself motivated when you hit a rough patch.
If you work from home and haven’t left the house in days, change out of your pajamas and go work in a coffee shop or library. What are you going to do if you wake up one day and don’t have a job to keep you busy? Have a plan for attracting clients instead of staying in bed with your dog and a gallon of Rocky Road.
Mentally prepare for tough times in a way that works for you. When things get better, you will be glad you did.
Do Not Fear Change
In any industry, you have to roll with the punches. The economy is always changing. Humans are fickle creatures. Because of this, it is important to keep track of the emerging trends in your field. What are people doing that is new and exciting? How can you adjust what you do so that clients still find your brand and your work desirable?
Being flexible in case you need to change direction from your original business plan is a must. If you learn to accept change and the opportunities it can bring for you, your business will continue to thrive. Go with the flow instead of fighting against it.
The decision to strike out on your own and begin your own freelancing business can be a tough one. As you can see, there are many things to consider. However, if it is what you want and it can work with your lifestyle, go for it! Freelancing can be a wonderful career, and can give you freedom from the 9 to 5 corporate lifestyle.