How To Become A Full-Time Freelancer Part 1

How To Become A Full-Time Freelancer Part 1Now that I have finally switched to full-time freelancing, I have received many e-mails from others asking how they too can freelance full-time.

This is a loaded question to answer, as there is no right answer for the steps that a person should take before they make the freelancing switch.

I have only been freelancing full-time for a couple of weeks, but I have been building it up for a couple of years and have been working on it for over 40 hours a week for quite some time. I feel very prepared for my freelancing future.

When deciding whether to freelance full-time, there are many things to think about.

Start your freelancing as a side job if you can.

This is what I did. I started my freelancing services on the side, which helped me grow my business but not have to rely on my income in order to survive. It definitely took off the pressure.

However, not everyone can start it as a side job. There may be circumstances where you have to leave your job immediately or you are let go from your job. However, if you can, definitely try to build your freelancing on the side to see if you even like what you are doing (and to see if it is profitable).

See if you can realistically afford it.

If you are thinking about freelancing, figure out if you can truly afford to make the switch. Being your own boss is great, but there are many expenses that may pop up.

Start by creating a realistic budget and realistically totaling your income after taxes each month. Is that enough to survive, save for retirement and live the life that you want to live?

Don’t forget about taxes.

When adding up your budget and expenses, do not forget about taxes. It may be easy to forget about taxes because you only have to pay them quarterly/yearly, but you should be accounting for it once you receive money.

Could you survive if you had a bad month? 

As a freelancer, there are most likely going to be bad months. I don’t know of many freelancers who can say that every single month of freelancing is perfect.

If you had a bad month where your expenses far exceed your income, would you be able to survive?

Have an emergency fund.

That leads to my next point, make sure that you have an emergency plan. This may not be possible for everyone (depending on the reasons for why you are leaving your job), but you should still attempt to build your emergency fund if you can.

We made sure to have a well-funded emergency plan. It helps protect us in case we have a bad month so that we can focus on work and not on how we would scrounge up the next dollar.

Have a business plan.

You might think “Oh, I can just make a business plan later.” However, having a business plan now is important. Maybe your freelancing services are going well now, but are they sustainable into the future? What are your plans for the future? Where do you see your business taking you?

Have experience.

Having meaningful experience is important if you plan on switching to full-time freelancing. It is easier to get work if you have good experience and contacts.

Know how to network.

As a freelancer, networking is very important. Networking can help you land contracts.  Networking can help you find out about future jobs, projects, ideas and so on.

Maybe someone who you have networked with will need your services later on, and they hopefully will think about you and your services. Most people would rather use someone who they know or someone who they know of instead of a stranger, and this is where you come in.

Is your plan to freelance full-time or to be your own boss? What tips do you have?



How To Become A Full-Time Freelancer Part 1 — 35 Comments

  1. Good stuff. I’d love to do freelance web development at some point, and I see networking as my biggest hurdle. Closely followed by accounting. My plan is, like you, to start double-timing it before I ever get out of my day job, so that hopefully I can hit the ground running.

  2. Good tips. My main advice is to stop looking for excuses and DO IT. I know so many people who’d like to try, but they don’t really have the courage etc. Just go for it and see if it’s OK. If not, you have not lost anything, just gained some experience.

  3. Hey Michelle, Thanks for the tips. My ultimate goal is to be my own boss one day. I’m working on gaining some experience now online and also have been thinking of some things I can do offline as well.

  4. Good advice! I did decide to jump into it before giving it a try and fortunately everything went well eventually, but I had some pretty dry first 6 months, so you have to be prepared for that 🙂

  5. I’d really love to make freelancing my full time job in between acting gigs. I could maintain the freelance work even when I was busy with a show- as long as I can work remotely. The last few months I’ve slowly been building a client base but I’ve got a long way to go before I can make a livable income.

  6. Hi Michelle, Great read! At some point, I read that you were going to do an article on estimated taxes. I think this would be super helpful for many new business owners. I would love to see how you estimate what to pay when the income is variable etc.

  7. I’ve recently started freelancing on the side but I’ve found it’s hard to keep up with freelancing and working my job. Lately I’ve been coming in an hour early so I can take 2hr lunches and meet with clients/do my side job. It hasn’t affect my performance but I wonder if my coworkers suspect anything. I have a few thousand dollars of credit card debt to tackle in the upcoming months and then I might make the switch. I’m just not sure yet…

  8. Great points. I am in a unique position because I have very few expenses, live at home, and work sporadically for different people. It’s been really beneficial for getting my freelancing off the group as well as coming up with ways to diversify my income.

  9. I agree with all of your tips…especially about taxes. It’s easier to set 1/3 of your income ahead of time. That way, you don’t have to scramble to come up with the money when your taxes are due! =)

  10. That’s really great advice, Michelle.

    I’m in my first year as a self-employed person. I am working on building a business that aligns with my passion, but I’ve also done consulting work to extend the life of my savings. When I say savings, I mean the amount of money I earmarked for getting my business to a financially-sustainable place. I’m not dipping into money that I’ve set aside for retirement. That’s a hard and fast rule!

    When it comes to planning for taxes, any income I receive get’s split up as follows:
    – 40% to cover quarterly taxes
    – 10% for retirement
    – 50% for living/business expenses

    I may be over allocating for taxes, but I would rather do that and then shift the extra into retirement funds at the end of the year.

    Congratulations on your full-time freelancer career!

  11. I’m working on switching over to full-time. Right now, I have a financial situation that’s making it really difficult, but I feel like I can’t give up on my dream.

  12. Pingback: Update: Working From Home Week 1 (Plus Freelance Jobs)

  13. Pingback: Post-Halloween Yakezie Blog CarnivalBudget For Health

  14. Excellent tips. I think my biggest hurdle would be dealing with an uncertain income amount each month, probably easily solved by establishing a cushion for those lean months.
    I can certainly appreciate having a plan…its good to know what someone is working towards and whether its even possible and sustainable in the long run.

  15. Pingback: Carnival of Financial Planning « Planting Our PenniesPlanting Our Pennies

  16. Pingback: How To Become A Full-Time Freelancer Part 2 | Making Sense Of Cents

  17. Pingback: How Can I Become A Full-Time Blogger? | Diversified Finances

  18. Pingback: Aspiring Blogger – Personal Finance Carnival #19 – November 15, 2013 | Aspiring Blogger

  19. Pingback: Carnival of Financial Independence #36 - Frugal Rules

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *