steps to becoming a full-time freelancer
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It’s no secret that we’re living in a historical moment. This past year has shown that job-seekers’ patterns are changing within the current work landscape. In fact, there are more people who consider becoming a full-time freelancer to be their next best career move.

As the flexibility of workers’ schedules adjusts with remote work and with people leaving their jobs in higher numbers than ever, stats show that more people are leaving their jobs to work for themselves. A Gallup study (h/t Upwork) found that of the Americans who quit or planned to quit during the great resignation, close to 52 percent wanted to go freelance.

Gone are the days when employees stayed at the same 9-to-5 job until retirement. In fact, 58 percent of people who didn’t freelance before the pandemic are now considering it. This may not be as shocking, especially considering the average tenure of contract workers has been falling.

Data suggests that the move to full-time freelancing is likely to continue in this “workers economy.” That people will want a lot more flexibility and freedom within their careers than employers can give. At least right away.

Becoming a full-time freelancer

Going freelance will call for some major adjustments, however. If you’re currently a part-time freelancer or are looking to make the transition from working for someone to working for yourself, these tips should be helpful as you navigate your next steps. 

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1. Build a network of clients

One of the most crucial things one can do when making the jump from working for someone to working for yourself is building a network of clients.

This can be gradual as you build your portfolio and clientele. Networking is important—even when you work for yourself.

If you create a good name for yourself and your work through your current clients, you’ll be able to build on that. Get your name out there!

steps to becoming a full-time freelancer

2. Define your rate

Okay, you have some clients—now what? Defining your rate (and sticking to it) is crucial to making the jump to full-time freelance. Freelance rates are a heavily debated topic, as your experience level will depend on how much you should charge.

With that being said, sometimes you’ll have to compromise with certain clients (especially starting out), but once you’ve become established, it will be easier to navigate and put your foot down with a set rate.

This article will help you calculate your basic rate to get your new freelance business off the ground. 

3. Maintain a regular schedule 

Most people who work freelance prefer it because they’re able to have a flexible schedule— working when they choose. This appeals to many who want to work outside of a traditional 9-to-5.

However, when you make the jump to full-time, it’s crucial to maintain some kind of regular schedule.

As your work life and personal life become more blended, you should aim to maintain a sense of when you’re “in office” and “out of office” in order to create boundaries for yourself and your work. Sometimes this includes working on weekends. The good thing is that it’s up to you!

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4. Keep track of invoices & costs

You’re building your clientele, you’ve set your rate, and you’re maintaining a regular schedule. The next thing you want to do is keep track of your invoices, as you (typically) are your own accountant.

Using invoice tracking software can help you see your month-to-month income and stay organized when adding up fees. It’ll also be able to help you see how your negotiated rate can really add up!

Read how this Tanzanian startup is empowering small businesses to track their invoices among other business management services.

5. Maintain an online presence

Your online presence is more and more important these days for self-promoting your work, but it especially is if you work for yourself and need to meet new clients.

Their impression of you is most likely to start by your online presence, whether it’s your Twitter, Instagram, website, or all of the above. This goes hand-in-hand with the service you’re providing too.

If you’re solely a freelance photographer, Instagram may be the main route for you to showcase your work.

If you’re a writer, you may want to have both a website of links to your writing and also stay active on Twitter so potential clients can immediately see your writing tone. 

6. Prepare for unpredictability 

The freelance world is one of flexibility—but also unpredictability. The economy’s changing landscape comes with perks like working from home and if you’re full-time freelance, working when you want and how you want.

However, this goes hand in hand with some months being more fruitful than others. By nature, your workload and income can change each month. With that being said, you’ll have to be fully prepared for ebbs and flows, but that’s just part of the process.

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As you shape your own work days, prepare for freedom but also buck up, because now you are your own boss.

About the author

Vani has a keen interest in investments, entrepreneurship, and small businesses.

Vani Ongaya

Vani has a keen interest in investments, entrepreneurship, and small businesses.

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