Many people want to go to freelancing full time, viewing it as a dream come true. Full-time freelancers are their own boss, work their own hours, and determine their own success. This is a great thing, but not everyone can manage it. Some freelancers flourish when they work alone, but others find it hard to manage their time, being used to a 9-5 job. The majority of successful people in full-time freelance work attribute their success to working in an office setting. Whether they love working as part of a team, exchange ideas, share jokes with a nearby colleague, or because they like independence, many people cannot fit into full-time freelance work. Therefore, before you get into full-time freelancing, consider these issues:
1. You will be working on your own
Freelancing is a lonely profession. When you move from a lively office to a lone desk, you can feel isolated and out of place. Your kids will be in school, your partner could be at work, and you are alone at home with your computer. Other than those rare moments when you go out for client interviews or partners who seek your help in business, you can spend an entire day without hearing yourself speak. This kind of isolation can soon affect your work and mood. If you worked in an open office before, consider renting a cubicle with someone and enjoy the co-working sensation.
2. You are in charge of yourself
Full-time freelancing means you are accountable to yourself, and this makes you work diligently. No-one will stick around to monitor how you are progressing, and whether you are on par with your targets. Being accountable to yourself helps you spend your day productively, without tweeting or chatting on Facebook all day. If you fail to be responsible, your work will suffer and your clients see the quality diminish. The internet may have an array of tools you can use to help keep your focus, everything boils down to you.
3. Exercise self-discipline
Once you begin freelancing, you will experience temptations to work through the night. However, late night work only leaves you so tired that you cannot get up in the morning. Once you realize this, you can plan your schedule well and set aside time to sleep. This is the mistake many freelancers make. Self-discipline is a virtue in all projects, as you will see in the Freelancer projects that you accept.
If you sleep too late and wake up late as well, you realign your entire day. You will find yourself working through the night and sleeping during the day. This is unhealthy since it changes your natural working hours into sleeping hours. To succeed, stick to the time you used to work in the office. After all, your clients do not work through the night. They stick to office hours, and this is the time they will contact you with new projects. Be available to them.
4. Deal with your clients
If you did not deal with customers in your previous employment, you are likely to experience difficulty in handling your own clients. You need to exercise courtesy as you interact with them. Your communication should be helpful and direct. You should not leave any room for disdain or exasperation, even if clients are difficult. Take it this way: that nagging client is your boss, and you need to be patient since you need them more than they need you. Many customers find it easy to stick with freelancers who are flexible, and who work extra hard to deliver more than the targets a client has provided. Your work should be to try and impress the customer. Life will be much easier if you do.
5. Learn negotiation skills
If you have a full-time job, you are sure of a fixed salary every month. You might receive medical insurance, a paid vacation and other attractive perks.
When it comes to freelancing, what you earn is dependent on your effort. No-one gives you extra perks. Your negotiation skills must be astute for you to succeed. You should not be afraid to ask for higher pay. You may start with low rates - that’s fine - but you need to grow steadily as you gain in reputation. Ensure your skills increase as your rate increases. If you cannot negotiate higher pay, you will be stuck with low rates and no-one will increase them for you. Whenever you get new clients, raise your rates and continue to do this as you get new projects from different customers.
6. Control your emotions
Freelancing does not cushion you from unreasonable client demands, rejections of completed work, and irate clients. In your previous office setting you used to hear news from a colleague or your boss. In freelancing, you hear directly from your employer - your client. Whether the customer has rejected your work (which can be a hard situation to accept), a client has unreasonable demands or are dissatisfied, you need to be tactful as you deal with them. Control your emotions and avoid being offensive. Your clients are your lifeline; you cannot afford to lose them.
7. Understand the trending news
If you want to be ahead of the rest, keep yourself informed of all the happenings in your sector. This does not mean you waste time reading everything online. You only need to read what affects you directly. When blogging came into the picture a few years ago, freelancers who quickly established their blogs got a lot of clients, and they also became market leaders. Being a full-time freelancer demands you know what is trending or emerging, and know what will benefit your business.
8. Keep your family and friends
Before you dive into freelancing, seek the support of your family. Freelancing is stressful in the beginning. You are always worried about finding a new client, and you need to make ends meet. If your family does not support you (not just financially), you can sink into depression. Sometimes, you might feel as if it won’t work. This is the time you need your family most. A spouse, parent, or child who encourages you is all that you need. Friends can also support you in the first few months before you settle down. They can help market your services in their circle of friends.
9. Have some extra savings
Start freelancing as a part-time gig before leaving your full-time job. This will help you ascertain your chances of success. You will have clients already. After a few months of trying it part-time and being confident the clients available can give you some earnings, switch to full-time.
10. Get used to unpredictability
Though you are the best freelancer in the world, who completes your projects on time and manages your invoicing well, this does not mean you will always receive a regular payment from your clients. Michelle Thread Gould says it is important to know that more than 30% of clients will not pay as per your plan. Never count on any payment until you find it in your account.
11. Some clients will not pay you
It is easy to charge a client for any project you undertake. Freelancing incorporates many hours which are not billable. Keep in mind that some customers are out to dodge you once you have completed their project. It is not easy to tell who is serious and who is not.
Freelancing is not an easy venture. Not everyone makes money out of it - but it is a fantastic asset for the strong-willed, who never give up. You might lose money today, but keep going! You will find a better client tomorrow. Keep the faith, work hard, and never retreat. Freelancing pays!
If you have any more points to include about full-time freelancing, leave your comments below!