So, you’ve decided you want to become a freelancer. You want to work at home. You want flexibility over your career, control over your schedule and a say in your income. You might be wondering, when is it a good time to quit my job? What should I do before I jump ship? I’m going to share with you 6 important steps you must take before even thinking about quitting your job.
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You will want to hold onto your current source of income as long as possible because it’s the only thing giving you the foundation you need to launch your freelance business. You can’t launch any business without any money. I learned that the hard way. I abandoned my secure source of income too early and it caused a lot of stress for my family. The number one reason freelancers give up, the number one reason I gave up after my first attempt is because I ran out of money and had no other source of income.
This article is for those who want to freelance full-time as their career, not just as a side gig. Here we go…
Determine whether freelancing is right for you. You may already know, or you may be on the fence about it. Make a decision so you can start acting on it. If you’re unsure, read my blog post Is Freelancing Right For Me and take the quiz. It will help you evaluate whether you should start putting time into the rest of the steps.
What talent or skill do you have that you could sell as a service? Videography? Photography? Copywriting? Programming? Sales? Marketing? Make a list of all the talents you currently have whether they are creative or technical that you think a business or individual would pay for. If you can’t think of any, make a list of what skills you could develop that you would enjoy doing as a freelancer.
During my journey, I constantly evolved my skills to meet the needs of the businesses I was doing freelance work for. It’s called job security. Be always learning and gaining new skills. In case you think there are only a handful of freelance jobs that are options, look out for a future blog post where I will give you a full list of every possible thing you could do as a freelancer. That will start getting you to think outside the box.
Once you have a general list, narrow it down into 3-5 top talents you think you would enjoy doing on a daily basis.
Who is your ideal client? Who is likely to pay money for your talent? Are they a business? An individual? Both?
Write down who will most likely buy your service. Start out by writing down all the possible businesses or people who would even think to pay for your service. Then narrow down your list by deciding the top 5 who you see yourself enjoying working with the most.
I prefer to work with businesses because they are more professional in their dealings. They pay invoices on time, generally, they understand that we are in a business relationship, and they tend to understand pricing. They also provide much higher consistent cash flow because they always need more work done whereas individuals may only occasionally need your services. As a videographer, weddings were the one industry that I could potentially have made good money in that was not a business. The client was a newlywed couple. But I did a few weddings and I realized it wasn’t for me. It was way too stressful and annoying. So, I chose businesses.
Then I narrowed down my list even further. Which type of business do you want to work with most? Or which type of business is most likely to be a good fit with your style? Personality? For me, I chose online education businesses within the personal development industry. I have a passion for education, and I wanted to work with businesses who educated people on subjects that improved their lives.
And my video services became valuable to them because one of the most popular forms of education is video, of course. And I really enjoyed that type of content because I love learning new things that can improve my life and self. I had more passion for my work and I always delivered higher quality videos because I understood their audience and I was their audience.
Now, I wasn’t that focused to begin with. When I first started, I experimented with many types of different businesses. It took a bit of time before I started narrowing down my list of who I enjoyed working with the most. That may be the path you need to take too, or not. You may already know exactly what type of business you want to work with and that’s great!
I would say if your freelance skill has anything to do with videography, photography, writing, marketing or other content creation, then choosing a specific industry is best, because then you can become an expert on that type of content and that audience. If your skill is more technical, maybe you’re an engineer or an accountant, then it really doesn’t matter what industry the business is in, you just have to feel around for what structure you prefer to work with most. By structure, I mean, small business or large corporation? Local brick and mortar business or online business?
Start networking. Pick one networking event per week or month depending on how much time you have. When people ask you what you do, tell them what you will do as a freelancer. You’re not lying even if you have no clients yet because you are working on it. You are beginning to build your business. And as long as you have the creative or technical skill that your service revolves around then you are telling the truth. Always be honest when you’re networking but don’t wait around for high levels of success before you tell people what you do or you’ll never obtain that success.
How should you respond to them asking you what you do? Just tell them how you can help them. Don’t ever call yourself a freelancer…I used to tell people I was a “freelance video editor.” That never got me clients. For example, when I changed my ways, I started saying, “I help online education businesses who teach personal development, expand their audience through creating compelling videos. I also help those videos show up in search engines. I help their current audience become loyal fans and their future audience find them.”
It’s a 15 second pitch and if they want to know more, they would ask, and I would give more detail. Often that led to a meeting where we discussed whether working together would be a good fit. But that’s leading into another blog post on how to actually enroll clients. Be sure to look out for videos or posts about how to take the conversation from there. Right now, just get out there and start meeting people.
And answer honestly to any question they ask. If they ask you how long you’ve been doing your thing, tell them the truth. Have you been editing videos since you were 12 years old? If you’re 24, tell them 12 years. They didn’t ask you, “How long have you been running a thriving freelance business as an adult?” They just asked you how long you’ve been practicing your craft. If they do ask you more about your actual business, then be real with them.
"I’m actually just beginning the process of turning this into a full-time business, I’ve been doing it on the side for a while." OWN WHERE YOU’RE AT. One of my biggest mistakes was being ashamed of where I was at in my business and so I would try to hide things when I was networking. Don’t do that!
This is your chance to start testing the waters. As a freelancer you will be running a business, so you are essentially testing whether your business is a good idea. You’re seeing whether your ideal client would actually pay you for the services you chose.
This step is key because as you make connections, you’ll get feedback which will help you finesse your ideal client profile and even what services you decide to focus on in your business. So, know that your initial list of what talent you chose and who you’re serving is just tentative until you get out there and start talking to people. And you may actually find a client out of this preliminary networking. And if that happens, you’re officially in business!
But don’t quit your job yet, you still have a way to go before you have the consistency you need to disconnect your current source of stable income. Always maintain a baseline of income or cashflow to pay your bills while building your business.
And by the way, you don’t have to only network in person, you can use apps like Shapr and Linked In to start connecting with people online. The majority of my clients actually came from online connections I made.
Get educated. Start reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube videos all about freelancing and business. Other good resources for freelancing is doubleyourfreelancing.com, freelancetowin.com and executiveinsweatpants.com. Those blogs are from successful freelancers who have great advice.
You likely already have enough education regarding your actual skill, whether it’s videography or website design, etc…The type of the education I’m talking about is studying how to master the life and business of freelancing. Because your skill alone won’t bring you success. I thought because I was a great video editor, I would naturally find clients. Nope! When you’re competing against international freelancers who charge $5/hour, you have to pitch your services above and beyond your technical or creative skill. You’re pitching yourself as a serious business owner who has mastery of your time and communication.
If you’re wondering where you can get some detailed additional training on freelancing, be sure to check out my free video masterclass called The Solopreneur Journey: Learn More Here.
Establish a morning routine. Start integrating personal development into your morning. That routine will keep you balanced, which will lead to more clients wanting to work with you. It will teach you discipline, which attracts success. And because you’re developing yourself, you’ll increase in confidence. That confidence will affect your communication with potential clients, which will lead to income.
They will feel that you have your life in order and so they will be more likely to hire you even if your rate is triple that of someone else with the same level of technical skill. A freelancer who is in control of his life outside his business finds much more success in his business. So yes, that means getting to bed earlier, so you can wake up earlier and build yourself before going to your current job.
Upgrading my morning routine was the FIRST thing I changed when I decided to start my own business. And if you’ve ever heard of the compound effect made famous by Darren Hardy, then you’ll know that consistent minor changes over time have a massive effect on your results. Little changes to your morning routine over the course of months will lead to wonderful success in your career.
Thanks for taking the time to invest in yourself by reading this guide. Be patient. Even if you know what your passion is and you’re ready to dive into freelancing, be patient. Take the time to go through the steps. Don’t make the same mistake I did by diving in head first and abandoning my stable source of income too early. It caused me to give up and go back to a salary job for a year because I couldn't pay my bills. I ended up delaying my freelance success because I was too impatient. Embrace the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Be the Tortoise! That means you are moving forward towards your goal, but at a deliberate, steady pace. And because of that, you'll actually get to where you want to be faster.