For most of us, freelancing full time seems like a dream come true. We get to be our own boss, work our own hours, and are responsible for our own success. It all sounds great – and it is, but freelancing full-time isn’t for everyone. While some freelancers thrive on being their own boss, others find that they’re not as good at working for themselves as they were working for a company, or in their 9 to 5 job.
A lot of people thrive on working full-time in a traditional office setting. Whether it’s because they love working in teams, like to bounce ideas off each other, and be able to share a joke with a colleague sitting in the cubicle next to them, or because they are too used to it to be independent, there are people who may not be suited for the freelancer’s life. So before you take the plunge, consider the following aspects of a freelancer’s life to see if it is your cup of tea, things like…
1. You Will Be Working Alone (A lot)
The kids will be at school, your significant other would be at work and you will definitely be home alone working on your laptop, Mac or PC. Apart from when you go for interviews to pitch your services or to meet partners you can collaborate with, sometimes you could go an entire day without using your voice! Before long the isolation will start to affect your mood and work.
If you’re used to having people around while working, consider sharing an office with someone or go rent a desk or cubicle and embrace the co-working phenomenon.
2. You Hold Yourself Accountable
Freelancing full time means you’re responsible for yourself and your work more than ever. There’s no one around to monitor how much work you’re getting done or whether you’re meeting your targets.
For you to be successful as a freelancer, you need to be accountable for yourself. Otherwise, you might end up spending half the day tweeting and going through your RSS reader.
Your work will suffer and your clients will see the effect in the work you turn in. There are plenty of tools, apps and methods to help you stay focused at work but at the end of the day it boils down to having the self-discipine to run yourself and your work.
3. You’ll Need Self-Discipline
When you first start freelancing full time, it’s so tempting to give it your all and work late nights. But what those late nights really do is make you so tired that getting up in the morning is difficult. Then you think, since you’re working for yourself, you can set your own hours making it okay to sleep in.
That’s where you’re wrong.
Stick to your office-going work hours and your freelancing business has a good chance of making it. After all, clients don’t burn the midnight oil – they keep to office hours and that’s also when they are most likely to contact you with the latest updates. Keep yourself available.
Even after that in some cases things could be different. Like if you are from Asian Region and most or all of your clients are from USA or Europe, for better communication you might need to work at night. In such cases you should reschedule your working and sleeping hours. Remember that, as an adult minimum 6 hours of sleep is needed everyday.
4. You have to Deal with Clients!
Unless you’ve directly dealt with your company’s customers and clients during your office years, your very first roadblock is going to be dealing with clients. Communicating good in English is a must for being successful.
When interacting with clients you need to be courteous, direct and helpful in your communications with them. There’s no room for exasperation or sarcasm – even when they are horrid to work with. Think of it this way: your client is now your boss and you have to treat them like one.
A lot of clients stick with freelancers who are easy to work with and always go out of their way to deliver 100%. So impress your client, and you’ll have smooth sailing for the most part. I saw lot of freelancer said “I can do this part of the job, but can’t do this particular things.” This type of things may not make someone successful.
5. You Must Learn to negotiate
In a full-time job you’re paid a fixed salary each month with a raise every year, medical insurance, paid leave and other perks. In freelancing your earnings are directly dependent on your rates and there are no perks in freelancing.
In order to succeed, you need to be able to negotiate reasonable freelancing rates for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with starting out with low rates – as long as you steadily raise them as you gain a reputation for yourself and are always improving your skill set to deserve higher pay.
Here’s a quick tip for raising rates: always quote a rate that is higher for your new clients compared to your present clients and work your way up as you get more projects.
6. You Mustn’t Let Emotions Take Over
Freelancing doesn’t give you a buffer against irate clients, unreasonable demands and rejections. Instead of hearing the news from your boss or a colleague, you’ll be hearing it directly from the client.
Whether it’s a rejection (they’re the hardest to take), an unreasonable demand or just a disgruntled client, you’ll need to handle the situation with tact.
Keep your emotions in check and instead of going on the offensive, do damage control. Clients are your life line; you can’t afford to alienate them.
Also too much filtering to choose a task because of your emotion can destroy your freelancing prospect. Make your professional life separate from emotion or religion. Like if you are a writer and client want you do write and post a biography on Mia Khalifa, as a writer you should do it, you need not to love or like this porno star at all.
7. You must Know What’s Trending in Freelancing
As a freelancer, you’ll need to stay on top of the trends in your industry to stay ahead of the game. It doesn’t mean you waste time trying out everything, but figure out which trends affect you directly and how you can use them to your advantage.
A few years ago, when blogging became the next best thing for business, freelancers who quickly establish their own blogs managed to not only get more clients but also established themselves as leaders in their niche.
As a full-time freelancer, you need to keep an eye on emerging trends and have the ability to quickly figure out which trends would benefit your freelance business the most.
8. You Need Your Family and Friends
Before you make the jump, make sure that your family supports your decision. When you start freelancing, things are pretty stressful. You’re spending a majority of your time finding clients and are constantly worried about making ends meet.
If you don’t have your family’s support (and I’m not talking about just financial support) your stress level is going to spike through the roof.
There are going to be days when you’ll feel like it might not work. That’s when family support matters the most. Just having someone – a partner, spouse, your parents or even one of your big-eyed kids – tell you that it’ll all work out or they believe in you, can go a long way in boosting your confidence.
Friends are also a great source of support during the first few months too. They can help spread the word about your services and refer you to folks in their social and professional circle if they are looking for a freelancer.
9. You Must Have Extra savings
Before you leave your full time job, start freelancing on the side. It’ll help you gauge your chances of success and when you do switch to freelancing, you’ll have some clients already.
But here’s the catch. After a while, you may feel confident that their payments can keep you afloat, but don’t expect when you do go full-time with freelancing that you’ll have the same clients beating down your door with work.
Think of it as setting up a business from scratch. You’ll eventually need to go out there and find clients – which takes a lot of time and networking, something you will be disadvantaged after removing yourself from the scene by quitting your job.
Until you’re making enough to make ends meet or turn a profit, you’ll need to dip into your savings to get by on a monthly basis. Try to have enough savings to last 6 months before you quit to go full-time freelancing.
10. Revamp Your Workspace
Since we are already aware of the positive things a good environment can give us, let us now look into some tips on how you can revamp your workspace and make it a better place to work in. Try to create one that would give a positive effect on you. You can do this by doing the following:
1. Get a well-designed work area. Everything starts with a well-designed working area. Choose calming colors that would make you feel relaxed and not colors that might stress you. Also, install proper lighting so that you won’t be working in the dark. You can also design your work station in whatever manner you want as long as it will keep you inspired and motivated.
2. Set room temperature. No one would like to work in a place that is so hot or too cold. So, be sure that you are working with the right room temperature for you. This will make you feel a lot more comfortable. But make sure you won’t doze off while working.
3. Get a good view. It is better to place your workspace near the window so that you will be able to see the beauty outdoors. But choose a place where you can get a good view like a well landscaped garden, a body of water or maybe the city lights. This can help create a good working environment.
4. Get a good chair. A chair is something you would really need while at work. This is important because you need to feel comfortable on your chair to be able to work well. So, choose chairs that would push you to work, not to sleep and not to walk away from your station. Get a chair that will make you stay for work.
5. Position computer well. Aside from your chair, your computer should also be positioned well. It has to be placed in a manner that you could type well, see the screen well and use the mouse well. If all those three things fail, you will end up unwilling to work.
6. Organize your desk. A cluttered desk creates a stressful aura. So, be sure to keep your stuff well and arrange them in storage boxes or whatever you are using. Be able to manage your files so that you will not have trouble looking for those you need. Also, try to read How to Develop Organizational Skills.
7. Post inspiring photos. One way to keep you inspired is to post inspiring photos. It can be photos of your family or your friends. It can also be photos of yourself or of other things that you love. Some would post photos of their dream car, dream vacation or dream house. This is effective in keeping yourself motivated to work well in order for you to reach your dreams.
8. Listen to soothing music. Music is also a way to create a good aura. Choose music that will give you a beat to work. You can notice that you will be able to work well with the music on. But there are also people who prefer silence while working. It just depends on you.
The Secrets to Success
The secret to succeeding as a full time freelancer is to treat it as a business. You’re the CEO of your freelance company. You’re the one responsible for everything related to it. In business we all have to compromise a lot of things, we have to do it in this freelancing field too.
Set your own hours: if you can get your work done in 4 hours instead of 8, no one’s forcing you to stay in the office. How cool is that? And that will happen only when you will be perfectly skilled and always try to improve that. In my office I saw someone working hard in excel to extract few things. She spend 3-4 hours and could not finish even 20% of that job. With my little guidance she completed the job within 30 minutes. So skill saves the time and increase the value of money you earned.
What was the biggest adjustment you made when you started freelancing full time?