Shift from Moonlighter to Full-time Freelancer

This is your year — the year to finally realize your creative business dreams. If you are ready to move from moonlighter to full-time freelancer, congratulations!

Making this complicated shift as easy as possible involves removing factors that cause you stress so you can focus on business. The transition can be harder for freelancers who fret about money or take longer to adjust to working solo. That’s why it’s a good idea to have some strategies in mind to make this exciting time as stress-free — and enjoyable — as possible. Here are a few ways to make the shift a little easier:

Tip 1: Take Baby Steps to Transition

When I started my copywriting business, I worked on it and held a full-time job for about a year before taking a part-time job. Mentally, I needed that step to part-time employment in order to prove to myself that I could hack it as a self-employed writer.

Susan Johnston, a Boston-based writer, says parlaying your full-time job into a freelancing gig can make the transition simpler. “When I left my last full-time job, I suggested they hire me as an hourly contractor to finish up some of the projects I’d been working on and train my replacement. They went for it because it made a better transition for both of us,” she says.

Another way to get your feet wet without taking an all-out plunge is to “test-drive” freelancing. “Set aside a vacation day or a holiday to spend at your desk and see how it goes. Are you disciplined enough to work for longer stretches of time? Do you get lonely or overwhelmed?” asks Johnston. See how you feel so you know if you can handle working solo.

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Tip 2: Create a Stable Feed of Projects

Amber Timmerman, a Seattle-based web designer, advises newbies to sign up with a local talent agency for projects. The agency secures gigs for you, ensures payment and may provide health insurance. “This income will sustain you while you continue to expand your business,” she notes.

Brian Casel, a web designer and developer from Connecticut, has been running his own design company and as of the past year and a half, trying to launch Restaurant Engine. He says that preparing yourself financially is vital because it can take a while to earn a profit, so he recommends saving up three to six months’ worth of money before you begin. Casel took consulting work on the side and phased those projects out as gigs from the restaurant service began to roll in … another trick that made the shift easier financially.

 Tip 3: Just go with it

Finally, remember that making the shift can be uncomfortable, but it’s not impossible. Every creative professional likely has a story about how they shifted into full-time freelancing. Most of them say it was one of the best choices they made, but admit that it can be turbulent at times.

Half of the challenge in changing to full-time freelancing is mental. You’re probably quite talented and business-oriented if you’ve been moonlighting. When you can overcome the doubts that may creep in as you transition to self-employment, you’re in a good position to thrive.

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