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From Full Time to Freelance – 7 Tips to Make it a Smooth Transition


Buzzzzzz…it’s 7:00am.

Wake up, get dressed, drive to work, drive home, go to sleep, repeat.

If you’re tired of the repetition in your day-to-day routine working a full time job and you’ve got a constant case of the Mondays (and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays), it might be time for you to consider an alternative.

While many people enjoy the steadiness of a full-time job, others wish for more flexibility and control over their schedules. That’s where the world of freelance comes into play.

Yes, the thought of the transitioning to the freelance world after a steady 40-hours-per- week-guaranteed-paycheck gig might be a little frightening at first, but once you learn about what it takes, you can succeed as a freelancer. More than 35% of the US workforce already does (according to Freelancers Union), so we’re confident you can, too!

But before you up and leave your full-time gig, be sure to check out these tips and tricks to help make the jump into freelance go smoothly.

1. Create a savings plan

This may not come as a major surprise, but just like you’d save for retirement or a big vacation, the same type of planning applies to making the leap into freelance. Because starting out as a freelancer is oftentimes unpredictable, you’ll want to create an emergency fund if times get rough.

Take into account all of your daily, weekly, and monthly expenses, and estimate what you would need to bring in to sustain your current lifestyle. This includes everything from rent, mortgage, student loans, health insurance, car payments, food, gas, etc. If you have a budget—on a spreadsheet or in Mint or Quicken—work off that. If not, you’ll need to make a budget so you can have those numbers in front of you. (Check out NerdWallet for budgeting advice that won’t make you want to pull your hair out.)

2. Consider putting a side hustle in place before leaving your full time job

Try getting some freelance work on the side and building your client base while you are still working full time to make the transition a lot smoother.

Unless you already have a booming freelance business, it can take some time to build up a sustainable client base and/or work consistently through an agency, so getting a head start while you are still earning a steady income will give you more peace of mind.

That extra money can go into your emergency fund!

3. Update your portfolio

This goes hand-in-hand with tip #2. It can be much more difficult to attract interest if you don’t have any recent work to show, especially if you are in a creative field such as graphic design or copywriting.

Start by compiling any significant accomplishments or projects you’ve worked on recently to showcase your talents, and then consider how you’d like to rebuild your portfolio site. There are lots of resources out there, including more than a few of ours. Take time to make sure it reflects a wide variety of your work to show people your full potential!

4. Set up informational meetings

If you’re wondering what others have experienced when making the transition to freelance, reach out to people in your network to hear their stories. This is your chance to ask thoughtful questions and really think through if this is the right move for you.

LinkedIn is a great place to start. Regardless of what field you’re in, you can look up connections in your industry who have their own freelance business or who work regularly as freelancers, and reach out to request an informational interview. Most of these people will be flattered you want to learn about their successes, and you’ll be surprised at the amount of resources you can take away from these meetings.

5. Make a list of goals

You’ve got legitimate reasons that you want to make the jump to freelance, right? While you are still working full time, consider creating a list of goals you would like to accomplish as a professional freelancer and what you would need to do to work toward those goals. Start with small goals and work your way up. For example, you might have a goal to get one client before leaving your job.

6. Treat working at home like your 9-to-5 job

While it can be glorious to be able to set your own schedule, stay in your pajamas all day, and be your own boss—or think of a day without a gig as a vacation day—it’s still important to develop some sort of routine you can stick to that works for you.

In other words, don’t rely too much on the fact that you don’t have to report to anyone or be at an office between certain hours. Making sure that you are sticking to your goals will help you stay focused and motivated. Check out this piece at Designer News where working freelancers share their daily schedules and come up with one that works best for you.

7. Become an expert networker

Networking in the professional world can provide so many benefits to your brand. If you’re not doing so already, consider attending local networking events in your area that are catered to your desired industry and talk to other like-minded professionals. Who knows, they may even become a client one day!

Do you have any additional tips for making the jump from full time to freelance as smooth as possible? Share your insights below!

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