While I encourage anyone who can to enjoy the benefits of freelancing, it’s also definitely the case that this lifestyle is not for everyone.
I find the benefits of being free to travel and work to my own schedule, and the novelties of new and different types of work to be extremely appealing, many others value the comfort of a steady income and a solid routine.
Going freelance is a personal decision that you need to make in full possession of the facts. Like anything in life, it will have pros and cons. It’s how you view these that often define whether you will be a good fit for freelancing.
You can go freelance relatively risk-free in a few ways. You can work out of hours on freelance work, build some savings in advance, or find some part-time work to supplement your income.
Removing the risk:
As you are even looking at this page, it’s safe to assume that something about the freelance life appeals to you. So much, that you’ve even taken some action and are researching the possibility.
That alone suggests, that you’re probably in the percentage of people that freelancing is likely to be a good fit for.
You probably have some urge to start your own busieness, or make a living doing something you love Or perhaps you’ve lost your job, and are now looking for an alternative way to make some money.
Freelancing can be a great fit for all of these situations.
It’s also true that going freelance can be something of a gamble, in certain situations. It’s doesn’t have to be though.
There are some circumstances where you can reduce the risk dramatically.
1. Get some work lined up
Perhaps the easiest way to go freelance is if you have some work already arranged to leap into. I personally went freelancer for the second time this way.
I had a 12 month, freelance contract lined up, so I decided to leave my full time role, and go freelance.
I was able to establish the freelance business, knowing I had a steady income arranged, so it didn’t feel like I was taking a risk at all.
I still recommend trying to find a good solid, long-term contract to work on, unless you have a solid business setup. It removes the sense of needing to say yes to every project, just because you’re worrying about not getting any work.
Having a juicy freelance contract lined up waiting was a great feeling, but obviously that’s often not an option.
2. Launch your sideproject
A classic, tried and tested way to go freelance without risking too much, is to launch while you’re still working.
This way you can get a feel for what it will be like, and build your business slowly but surely in your free time.
The first months of going freelance are often the leanest, so launching while you still have a full-time income can be a great way to get up and running, and secure some clients before making the decision whether to leave your role or not.
Of course, on the other hand, this will eat into your free time, and you will likely get started much more slowly. It can also sap some of the fun out of the exciting stage of getting started.
3. Build some savings
Another great way to go freelance is to commit to that objective in your mind, and then begin to save up some money, that you can rely on when you do go freelance.
It’s normally recommended to have enough savings to keep you comfortable financially for at least six months.
Remember that freelancers are not paid instantly, and when working with larger clients, it can take three months to get paid for a project.
Of course, this isn’t risk free, but you are mitigating for the potentially barren months by saving up like this.
4. Use your contacts
Another great way to find clients, and so to reduce the risk, is to build a network of relevant people who like and trust you.
There’s no better way to find work than through referrals and word of mouth.
If you have a thick book of great contacts, then it will make going freelance a lot easier than if you’re always trying to get work from complete strangers.
You’ll be surprised by how much people actually want to help you, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your contacts – however awkward it briefly feels to you.
5. Make some sacrifices
A little uncertainty is a part of the freelance lifestyle, and if you really struggle with uncertainty, then it may not be the wisest decision to go freelance.
Making some short term sacrifices now can help you to get up and running with less risk.
So, if you can, you may choose to live with a friend or your parents during your first months. You may choose to skip your iPhone upgrade and use the money to attend some freelance training or a relevant networking event.
There are a lot of little decisions you can make that will increase your chances of success.
So don’t rush out and get a private office and the latest computer. Try to spend money only on what you need to at first, until you feel more secure and established.
6. Be made redundant
Being made redundant or fearing for your job can be incredibly unnerving and stressful. Especially in these Covid times, many people are unfortunately being made redundant.
If you’re in this boat, then one option could be to give freelancing a shot.
Many, many people follow this route into freelancing – look at the rise in the self-employed following 2008’s financial crash – because this unfortunate event gives the push to give something you’ve always wanted to do.
Having a steady job often puts people off taking the risk of going freelance. So having that job removed can actually make the decision much easier.
If you are in this situation, going freelance can be a great way to regain some control.
You can always start the process of going freelance, while also sending out job applications. This will then give you the positive mindset boost of being proactive, and give you options to decide which route you would like to take.
If you are currently working, but are fearful for your position. Now is a great time to start brushing up your resume, and building your freelance website.
Get your finances in order first
One of the key things freelancers need to do is to get on top of their own freelancers. I usually recommend becoming a sole trader when going freelance, and this merges your finances with your business.
You need to keep track of what taxes you will need to pay, as well as make allowances for expenses like a pension and insurance.
Getting organised at the beginning will really help you.
Follow a system to separate your income into percentages – so some for marketing, some for spending, some for saving etc.
Finding a system that works for you will make a huge difference to your chances of long term success and growth.
By Alistair Webster