One goal of nearly every aspiring freelancer is to “ditch the day job” entirely. However, this often seems daunting and rather scary. There is a certain security in a regular paycheck, a job with benefits, and someone who tells you what you need to do.
However, still the freedom of freelancing calls. You can create that same kind of security for yourself to a certain extent, but it means you must leap, make a commitment, and follow through.
Preparation is everything – so here are some keys to ditching the day job and having freelance success.
Have a Great Website of Your Own
No matter which services you provide on a freelance basis, it’s good to have a website of your own that shows off your talents to potential clients. If you’re not professional about your own website, with a proper domain and decent design, how can you expect your customers to have much faith in your business?
Selecting your domain name, host, and web layout is one of the most important jobs you will have in the early stages of your business. Long before you are even thinking of leaving your day job, you need to have a well-established brand and platform. Clients will come and go, and your site needs to be designed to keep the ones you have and to help you acquire new ones.
Develop the Right Social Media Presence
You may or may not find clients for your profession on every social media platform. If you are a writer or content strategist, Twitter and Facebook can serve you well. If you are doing graphic design, more visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are probably a better fit.
But no matter what you do, you will want to have a presence on LinkedIn. It is far more than just a job search site. Professionals of all types use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals, and many projects and partnerships are born there.
The freelance market is stronger than it ever has been and many companies are using freelancers rather than hiring employees for certain types of projects. The opportunities are there, and if you have the right presence in the right place, you can do very well.
There is a LinkedIn feature called ProFinder (only available in the USA at the time of writing). Many writers use it with great success to find clients, and companies use the same service to locate qualified contractors. The investment in a higher level of LinkedIn membership can be well worth the investment.
Have Multiple Streams of Income
One of the advantages of maintaining a day job alongside freelancing is that you have at least two streams of revenue: your freelance income and your paycheck. As long as they add up to an adaquete figure, you can meet your obligations.
Really, the same is true when you freelance. This is why at HomeWorkingClub, we’re big fans of the “portfolio career.”
Here are some simple rules of thumb to follow:
- Don’t become reliant on a single customer for income; Spread your time between several, so one does not hold your destiny in their hands. Clients will come and go, so be sure to leave room for those changes in your budget plan.
- Do more than one thing: If you are a graphic designer, for example, design all kinds of things, from logos to book covers, website banners and social media ads. Learn to do more than one thing if you don’t already know how. Then, your income is not dependent on a single skill.
- Be willing to innovate: Someone may ask you to do something new, or tackle an entirely different kind of project. Be willing to jump in and figure things out, and even ask for help learning if you need it.
The reliability of your income should not be dependent on any one client or type of income. The more streams of income you have, and the more balanced they are, the more likely you are to succeed.
Working Part-Time is Not Failure!
While the goal for most is to freelance 100% of the time, there are often times when it makes sense to maintain a part time job. This could be to ensure you have a steady stream of income coming in, or to ensure you retain benefits like medical cover, which – in some countries – are very expensive if you are self-employed.
This doesn’t mean you have to compromise what you are doing. Set a schedule, and always remember that your part-time job, if you must have one, is just a support for the freelance work you are doing, not the other way around. Freelancing is your career: your part-time gig is the supporting piece to that.
This may mean that your part-time job is not really in your area of expertise, and could be something like delivering pizza or waiting tables. A part-time job, used correctly, can sometimes be a great social outlet as well, and even help you find new clients.
Ditching your day job for freelance work is exceptionally hard, and freelancing rarely as straightforward as we would like. However, working towards freelance freedom is always worthwhile. Get your brand established, work on building multiple streams of revenue, and keep in mind that a part-time job could be part of the big picture. If you’re prepared before you make the leap, you should never have to look back.