As part of our series about going from F/T to F/T freelancing (and beyond), here are CFC veterans, Alisa Bonsignore (a writer) and Heather Parlato (a designer), on how to begin getting clients (before you make the leap).
The easiest way is to branch off from a full-time job. Once someone on the inside knows your skills, they’ll often want you to work with them when they move on to the next job. That was how I got my first freelance project. After that, I found that once word got out that I was freelancing, even people in-house would start referring me. “Oh, my husband’s company needs a writer for some projects, do you have some time?”
If you’re already working in design, you will be approached by co-workers and clients of your company periodically for help on a side project. For the designer who hadn’t thought about freelancing before, these can be great starter jobs to get familiar with the process and build confidence in taking on more.
However, if you’ve done your share of random side gigs and you are looking to transition, the best way to do it is to start billing yourself as an independent designer and going after some select clients you want to work with. Create a web site that talks about exactly the industry and type of design you do, and showcase your work in an easily-navigable portfolio. Consider a call forwarding service, like Google Voice or Skype, to forward to your cell phone, so you can take calls for your business if something comes up. Clients want to know you’re available to them, so even if you’re not jumping right on their project till later, they feel better about working with you if they can communicate during their business day.
If you’re thinking of going from full-time to freelance, the Creative Freelancer Conference (June 23-24, 2011 in Chicago) is the best place to get started. (Early bird deadline is April 1st. Register now (or soon).