Some creative professionals are forced into freelancing, while for others it has just been a matter of time. Either way, making the transition from full-timer to successful freelancer takes preparation, hard work and often a mindset shift. If you’re thinking of going out on your own—or if you have a feeling that path is in your future—start planning and preparing now. Here are the first few steps to take:
1. Start by Moonlighting
“Moonlighting will let you know if you are disciplined and will prepare you for being in business for yourself,” says Kristin Maija Peterson of Grand Ciel Design in St. Paul, MN.
2. Build a Network
“Simple questions such as, ‘How important is a second phone line?’ and how to handle taxes can seem overwhelming until you talk to a seasoned pro,” says Lidia Varesco Racoma of Lidia Varesco Design in Chicago.
3. Get Your Finances in Order
You need to save a minimum of three to six months of your basic expenses as a cushion. Otherwise, you’ll be desperately taking whatever jobs come along.
4. Get Some Marketing Tools
“A website, samples and references (even LinkedIn references) are the most important things from the start,” says Alisa Bonsignore, a Northern California-based writer with Clarifying Complex Ideas.
5. Balance Your Two Jobs
“You need to have both the time and mental energy to balance two schedules,” says Heather Parlato of Parlato Design in LA. “Though it may be tempting, don’t do anything to jeopardize your job by working on side projects at work if it’s frowned upon.”
6. Make the Leap
It’s best to have a cushion of cash and a cache of clients, ideally a couple of regular clients who need ongoing services.
Want more help? Download Ilise Benun’s free whitepaper, The Freedom of Freelancing.
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