If you sit at your desk, dreaming of the day that you don’t have to deal with all the office politics, wondering if it’s possible to have days when you actually achieve something, then this is for you.
First of all, let me reassure you. Freelancing is about being free. You really will benefit from the freedom to plan your days to suit your work, and the amount that you want to take on, to spend time with the people and the things that you love. You can take holiday when you want, and you are confined to working between Monday and Friday either. You call the shots. There’s no boss breathing down your neck – apart from you (but that’s another story).
There is a but, I’m afraid. At KindredHQ, we think that the downsides are worth the risk, but we have to be honest with you. There’s the insecurity and the fluctuations in salary. You aren’t guaranteed a salary, not matter how experienced and well connected you are. Most seasoned freelancers learn to live with that, and plan accordingly.
We can’t guarantee you’ll make it freelancing. If we could, we’d have solved one of life’s conundrums. But we can give you a head start, and we’re happy to share the combined experience of the thousands of Kindred spirits that have made the move into freelancing.
Before you hand in your resignation…
1. Establish your reputation
There’s a lot to be said for establishing your credentials before you quit your day job. These days, we get emails from people who are still working in companies, but want to prepare themselves for freelance life before they start. That’s a very sensible approach, and if that’s how you found yourself here, then you’ve come to the right place.
It isn’t just about being ‘expert’ at what you do, but seriously thinking about how you will differentiate yourself, and why people should take you seriously. And then there’s the practical stuff like your business and finance set up. It pays to get that ready for the day when you decide to take the plunge.
To be honest, although some freelancers are very successful, it is the exception rather than the rule, and it could take years to get to the stage where you are earning a lot, and it will be a slog of a journey. It is a good idea to start with some money in the bank, perhaps a redundancy cheque or savings.
2. Finding work
If you are already working in a company, then you are likely to understand the link between profit and security. The same principle applies when you freelance. But when you start out, you don’t have a pocket full of testimonials from happy customers to rely on. There are ways around that however. You can start by telling everyone that you are going freelance. Almost all freelancing starts with referrals from your existing network.
Join in with clubs and networks – like KindredHQ, where you can meet and network with other freelancers.
3. Don’t be shy
If you are a sensitive soul, then arm yourself with strategies for keeping your confidence up. It takes a lot of energy to build you client base and you’ll need to accept rejection. Don’t take it personally; it comes with the territory–and often. Every successful freelancer will tell you that’s the case.
4. Be professional about it.
Almost all of us make a mistake in underestimating the value of contracts and a professional approach to your clients. But make that mistake once, and most of us don’t make it again. There are great resources like Satago and Duedil, where you can find out whether your clients are good payers and what others have thought of them. And your clients actually want you to be professional with them, to give them your deliverables for the project, and to help them get the best value from you.
We’re fans of book keeping and accounting software like Freeagent too, which help you deliver professional looking invoices, and keep a beady eye on how your business is moving.
Many ask us if you really need a website. The answer is yes. Your clients will want to look you up and find out a bit about you before hiring you so it’s a must, even if it’s a basic blog with your contact details and links to your work or portfolio.
5. Dealing with being alone
Know this. There are days when you will be very lonely. Even the most confident of us are prone to feeling down when we haven’t been out for a few days. But for many creative types and those of us who enjoy the company of others, it’s tough.
We’ve told it like it is not because we want to scare you, but because it pays to prepare yourself for success. That’s why KindredHQ exists, and we’re here to help. We think it’s the best career choice you’ll ever make! So come and meet up with us soon, talk to some of our members and find out how they run their freelance lives.
And good luck!