Working from home is a dream for many. And with the growth of the internet and advances in technology, going freelance is a dream that is within reach of more people than ever. If you have worked for many years for someone else, the freedom of going it alone can be scary at first, but it can be well worthwhile.
Here is a guide to the most important things you need to do in order to ditch your desk for good and start enjoying the freelance lifestyle.
Save Some Money for a Rainy Day
If you are just starting out on your freelance adventure, make sure that you really are ready for it. Leaving behind that regular paycheck can be daunting, and it may be many months until you are earning what you need. Many people planning to go freelance save up some money to use as a cushion to fall back on, and this can be essential in the early days. If you can save up to six months of expenses, this will help enormously.
Make Sure You Have a Real Plan
How are you going to make money? This is one of the questions you need to ask long before you decide to work for yourself. Do you have a skill? Can you take your skills from your current job and go it alone? Some common freelancing jobs include web design, marketing, graphic design, and copywriting, but there are many more.
If you don't have a specific skill, now could be the time to learn one. Invest in a course, take a qualification, or join an online course to make sure you have a skill that you can sell. You should also make sure you do something you really enjoy because otherwise the appeal of freelancing can quickly fade.
Try Freelancing Part-Time
If you do not think you can make the jump immediately, try working part-time instead and keep your day job for now. You could try working on your own in the evenings and at weekends, or even changing to part-time hours at work. This way you know you at least have some money coming in, and it gives you the opportunity to find out whether it is something that you can dedicate yourself to on a full-time basis before you quit.
Hire An Accountant
Accounting services for contractors are not hard to find, but you will want to do your research before choosing one. A good accountant will be someone who can help you to not only set up as a sole proprietor, but can also provide you with advice on starting out, get your taxes arranged, and managing your money. In short, it is one of the best things you can do when going freelance.
Start Finding Work
Where do you find freelance work? This is where it can help to have contacts, perhaps from your previous job. Tap into every resource you can. Let your contacts know that you are going freelance in advance and that you will be looking for work, and ask them to tell their own contacts and spread the word.
You will almost certainly have to market your services, and this can involve setting up a website, learning about online marketing and SEO, purchasing ads in the local press, printing out business cards, visiting conferences, and more.
Then there are freelancing websites where you can pick up gigs, such as Elance and Odesk. These can be good places to get started if you do not have any clients or contacts. Rates tend to be lower, but they are good places to get experience.
Remember Why You Are Doing It
Freelancing can be hard and stressful, especially when clients pay late and you start struggling to pay your bills. So try to focus on why you are doing it when things get tough. It may be to spend more time with your family, to enjoy a better work-life balance, or to simply be your own boss. Never forget your reasons for becoming self-employed, and know that it gets easier after the first year or two when you start to find more regular clients.
When You're Ready, Make the Move
Don't jump into freelancing before you are ready. You may be desperate to quit your job, but don't rush into anything. Instead, take your time, make sure you have a plan in place, and only go for it when you are sure that you can make it happen. Freelancing really is a fantastic option for many people these days, and more people are discovering the benefits for themselves by finding work online. You can do it to, but just make sure you really are ready before you leave your full-time job. Good luck!
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