So, you’re thinking about how to start freelancing? You’re in good company. In fact, according to our latest Talent Retention Report, 67% of the professionals we surveyed said they were thinking about leaving their job in the next year to start freelancing.
These days, freelancers have more options than ever thanks to technological advancements, and more companies looking for freelancers with creative, marketing, and digital experience to help fill gaps on their teams.
While the prospect of working for yourself can be an exciting one, the transition from a full-time salaried employee to a full-time freelancer is not something to be taken lightly.
If you’re considering becoming a creative or digital marketing freelancer, here are some factors to think through before you make that jump:
IS FREELANCING TRULY RIGHT FOR YOU?
While anyone can decide to become a freelancer, there are specific mindsets and personality traits that may be more suited for freelance. Being your own boss can be great if you’re self-motivated, highly organized, reliable, and disciplined.
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Independent freelancers need to plan and maintain their daily workload and schedule, juggle projects simultaneously, and continuously market themselves to keep the stream of work steady.
And in addition to the actual creative work you need to do, there are other tasks that a business or HR manager would usually handle that will now fall on your shoulders. Examples include managing tax information, health insurance, invoicing and accounts receivable just to name a few.
Simply put, if you want to know how to get your start as a freelancer, ask yourself if you’re ready to wear the many hats freelance often requires.
THINK ABOUT YOUR “WHY”
Take some time to ponder what is driving you to consider this path. Are you an expert in your field but don’t want to be tied down to working for just one brand? Are you looking to build out your portfolio with a variety of clients? Do you want more financial freedom or a better work-life balance? Maybe you have always dreamed of being your own boss?
Once you decide on your “why,” it’s important to make sure that the reasons you want to pursue freelance are based in reality and not just on assumptions or freelancing myths. For example, while freelancers may get to decide what projects they take on, they do not necessarily get to choose their own hours. And many freelancers, at least in the beginning, work as much as full-time employees, meaning the work-life balance isn’t always better. And while some freelancers may be able to charge a rate that gives them greater financial opportunities, this can take time.
WHAT’S YOUR NICHE?
What kind of freelance work will you target? Will you have a specialty, or will your work be more general? If you’re a copywriter, are you skilled enough to also market yourself to help with SEO or social media strategy? Or do you want to focus solely on, say, content writing for the beauty industry?
Perhaps while you’re getting your start, you could cast a wider net by offering a variety of services within your field. From there you can build your client pool while assessing the supply and demand for certain niches.
EVALUATE WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO GET STARTED
As mentioned above, freelancers wear many hats so it is important to consider what tools and resources you need to get your start.
Are there any licenses or permits you’ll need to work as a freelancer in your area? Do you have a business plan? Will you build your website, design your own business cards and logos or hire someone to help you with those tasks? What pieces of work will you put in your digital portfolio? What equipment and software do you need? How will you market yourself? Will you do that on your own or work with a specialized freelance recruitment agency like 24 Seven?
SET YOUR INCOME GOAL AND UNDERSTAND YOUR WORTH
First, decide how you’ll charge clients. Will you generally be charging an hourly or project-based rate? From there do some research on what other freelancers in your field, with comparable experience, are charging.
Look at how many hours you’ll need to work or projects you’ll need to take on to meet your baseline income goal. Don’t forget to account for other costs like health insurance, subscriptions, software, equipment maintenance, additional utility costs if you’re working from home, or shared workspace fees. And, of course, remember to put aside money for estimated taxes.
HAVE A FREELANCE BACKUP PLAN
Before you quit your existing job and take the plunge into freelance, make sure you’re financially prepared for a transition period. You should try to have enough money saved to cover your expenses for a few months in case it takes longer than expected to find work.
Consider working part-time or as a contractor to provide a buffer while you get your freelance business off the ground running.
HOW 24 SEVEN CAN HELP
Getting your start as a freelancer brings no shortage of concerns to consider but working with a specialized freelance recruiter gives you a free resource at your disposal. The recruiters at 24 Seven are tapped into a wide network of companies looking to bring creative, marketing, and digital freelancers on for short- and long-term projects. Working with us can give you early access to some of these opportunities, but it will help you build out your network as a new freelancer.
When you get hired as a freelancer through 24 Seven you get a regular paycheck, and you may qualify for benefits, including health benefits, holidays, and paid time off. Our recruiters not only work to find you clients but will communicate and negotiate with them on your behalf. We can also offer you free career guidance to help steer you in the best direction as you begin your professional journey as a freelancer.
If you’re ready to make the jump and start your freelance career, check out our available freelance positions and contact a recruiter today.
This post was updated on September 13, 2022.