BUSINESS TIPS

How to Know You’re Ready to Freelance Full Time

Many people dream of ditching the 9 to 5-grind in favor of working in their pj’s, deciding their own hours and projects and building something for THEM (not their boss). But as inspiring as it all sounds (and it IS a lot of fun, trust me), you need to have a bit more than a vague dream and some cute pajamas to make a go of this full-time freelancing thing.

I’ve been freelancing for over four years now and went from completely unsuccessful beginner to now owning a 6 figure business. I never asked myself if I was ready to go freelance full-time. I just became one. I had no choice, if I wanted to fulfill my dream of becoming a writer, there were no full-time jobs.  I jumped, almost failed, hustled, found my passion, rebranded, and landed pretty sweet success. While it was a very hard path, I’m so glad I was forced to walk it.

Not a week goes by without one of my blogger friends coming up to me and asking me if they are ready to take the leap to go freelance too. So I wrote this post (as the first of many business posts!) to help you decide if you are ready to go freelance full time.

You hate the 9-5 grind

Most of my tips are practical tips, but this is more of a mental one. I personally cannot fathom the thought of working for someone else. While I currently spend about one or two days a week in an actual office (shock, horror) for one of my clients, I really enjoy it, because I CHOOSE it.

I can’t imagine someone else deciding whether I am allowed to take a few days off for travel… It just… my brain freezes and shuts down. I haven’t worked for a boss since I was a teenager and I intend to keep it that way. (Currently writing this from my pajamas at four o’clock on a Thursday #adulting) If you’re like this, you’ll feel the hunger to be in control of your own time. To not ever have to go back to someone else deciding over your hours. It’s a good mentality to have.

You have a true passion for something

Notice how I didn’t say talent: talent means nothing if you’re not dedicated to making it work and HUSTLE. But if you have a passion for something, an internal drive to chase a dream, there is no limit as to what will stop you. It makes putting in the necessary hours so much easier, and it will possibly give you a unique business angle that no one else has.

You have a solid business plan

This is where Debbie Downer comes in (who invited her?!), but since you want to get some solid advice, I’m going to give it to you. If you’re going to go freelance, you need a strong plan of action. You don’t need to write a full business plan, but you need to have a very good sense of WHAT you’re going to do in your business, HOW, WHY and WHEN. Also: who is your target audience and how will you reach them? How will you price yourself? All of that needs to be answered before you start. ‘Winging it’ is the quickest way to financial doom and an existential crisis.

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You have a few thousand in the bank

Yep, no cheating here. Trust me when I say you need that few thousand. I know you’re going to off into the freelancing world thinking everyone is waiting for you, but sadly, they aren’t. I learned this the hard way. In the past four years, I’ve had to break into my savings a few times. Not just to cover months I didn’t have enough work, but also to cover months where my clients weren’t paying in time and I was down to $50 in the bank with my rent due the next day. No matter how successful you are, this will happen, so you’d better come prepared. I’d say: try and have enough saved so you can cover rent and utilities for 6 months.

You have everything arranged legally

With this I mean you have set up a company and you’re legally allowed to operate. I can’t give you much direction as to how to start a company as it’s different in every country, but just make sure that you’re doing everything legally. Also, make sure you have some contracts or insurance in place to cover yourself in case anything goes wrong.

You have a solid marketing plan

You can be the best painter/writer/etsy shop-owner in the world, but if no one knows it, you’re screwed. People won’t magically pick up on fairy dust in the air and realize you exist, sorry. And so you hustle your bum and make sure people learn about your existence. A great way to do this is via social media and blogging, or potentially even working with bloggers, depending on your business. Make sure you have a good plan for promoting yourself and dedicating enough time to it.

You already have a profitable side hustle

This is actually the best way to measure if you’re ready for freelancing success. I always recommend EVERYONE to spend some time freelancing as a side hustle from your regular job. Yes, it’s intense, but building ups network takes time and the earlier you can start, the sooner you’ll  have success. So you have your side hustle, it’s making money… when do you know it’s enough? I wouldn’t quit until I knew I was making enough in my side hustle to pay my rent and utilities. The rest can wait.
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I know how tempting it can be to just take the leap and follow your dream. I get it. But there’s nothing that can kill your creativity like stress over being able to pay the bills. I’ve been there. Freelancing is a rocky road, so at least make sure it’s paved.

Are you ready to freelance full time?

milouMilou is the founder of femaledigitalnomads.com, runs two other travel blogs (Dutch: Explorista.nl, English: Explorista.net) AND a marketing agency called Explorista Media. If she’s not working, she’s traveling, but she prefers to combine the two. Dutch by passport, world citizen by heart, and American by accent (no one knows how that happened).

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