Take the leap to freelancing with grace.

Freelancing is becoming increasingly common in the working world. With the promise of professional freedom and flexibility, being a freelancer is a dream scenario for people who want to work on their own terms. But taking the leap from full-time work to freelancing can be a scary venture. Many challenges come with working as your own boss, and it's important to be prepared for this before walking away from your full-time employment. Follow these tips to help make your transition from full time to freelancing a successful one.

Get your finances sorted

Freelancing is unpredictable ‒ especially in the beginning stages ‒ and it usually takes a while before you actually make any money. Thus, it's wise to put together an emergency savings fund before switching from full-time to freelance work. These savings should be enough to cover essential expenses for at least three to six months. It may also be a good idea to find a secondary source of income, just to have extra financial security when things are uncertain.

Establish an online presence

It's almost impossible to find success in the freelancing world without having an online presence. To get consistent work, freelancers need to be visible and accessible to potential clients. It's important for freelancers to utilise multiple social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and any other niche sites that are relevant to their line of work (such as DeviantArt for artists taking commissions or SoundCloud for musicians and songwriters). These tools are excellent for promoting your skills, which makes knowing how to use them effectively an essential freelancing skill.

Create a website and portfolio

These days, every aspiring freelancer should have their own website. Having a professional-looking website is one of the best ways for freelancers to market themselves to potential clients. Ideally, a section of the website should include an up-to-date portfolio of successful previous work. When clients look for freelancers, they want solid evidence that the job will be done up to standard. An impressive portfolio makes a freelancer seem more experienced and trustworthy, making it more likely they will get the job.

Attend networking events

A good marketing strategy isn't just about promotion online. It's just as important for freelancers to seek out networking opportunities in the real world. Attending conferences and other networking events is one of the best ways to connect with potential clients and do some word-of-mouth advertising. Networking also presents the chance to meet with other freelancers and gain valuable advice about the industry. These types of events are always a great learning experience and can even help to fuel inspiration for new ideas.

Create client contracts

Unfortunately, clients refusing to pay on time is a common issue many freelancers have to deal with. To avoid any pay-related issues, it's crucial for freelancers to put payment details into writing for every project. A client contract should clearly outline payment schedules and deadlines, payment methods, and what happens if a project gets canceled. This helps both the freelancer and client understand what they're getting themselves into.

Set boundaries

Freelancers who work from home often have difficulty staying productive and focussed. The temptations to watch TV, scroll through social media or even do house chores are distractions that full-time workers don't have to deal with. In this case, the best way to maximise productivity is to create a designated workspace that is free of personal distractions. Setting boundaries between relaxation spaces and workspaces helps to create a productive mindset for work.

Stay active at home

Anyone who sits at a desk all day long is bound to feel agitated and lose focus. Taking regular exercise breaks throughout the workday can do wonders to refresh the mind and boost productivity. Since freelancers control their own work schedule, it is much easier to pencil in regular exercise at any time of the day. For freelancers who work from home, investing in a standing desk can also be beneficial ‒ they help to encourage better posture, build strength and improve focus.

Avoid social isolation

Many freelancers tend to feel isolated as a result of working from home all the time. This social isolation can inevitably affect motivation and productivity (not to mention quality of life!), so it's really important that remote workers make an effort to go out during the workday. Working from a cafe for a couple hours or regularly meeting up with friends for lunch can help make the experience of freelancing feel less lonely.

Transitioning from full-time work to freelancing is a big change that takes some getting used to. As a freelancer, you are basically your own boss, so it's up to you to take control of your career and proactively seek new opportunities. With the right attitude, a strategic approach and a strong set of skills and knowledge, it's certainly possible to find success as a freelancer!

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