Taking the leap into becoming a freelancer can be both scary and exciting. The exciting part is that you are finally branching out on your own, doing what you want to do and setting your own goals. The scary part is — what if you fail?
With this in mind, it’s absolutely crucial to get things off to a flying start, so that when you take that clifftop leap into the freelancer lifestyle, you find your wings quickly.
Here are four tips for doing just that:
- You need to network, network, network — then network some more
When you’re a freelancer, your contacts are going to be absolutely everything to you. And don’t just think of contacts as sources of work either — they can also become your mutual referral network, recommending you for jobs and setting up introductions. For instance, if you are a freelance graphic designer, then that freelance writer contact you met last week could end up mentioning you to their clients, and vice versa.
So aim to attend at least a couple of networking events a month and make sure you are equipped with some decent business cards while you’re at it. Obviously, choosing ethical cards are the best way to go. For instance, 95% of Vistaprint products are printed on paper sourced through responsible forestry.
- You need to get yourself a website — fast
After all, you’ll need something to print on those shiny new business cards, won’t you? A website is something that really can’t be put off to a later date, as it’s crucial in setting up a professional presence. It doesn’t have to cost you a ton of time or money either. For instance, free website providers such as Wix can get you started with a simple, one-page site. And of course, you can create something more elaborate at a later date.
- You need to be super-disciplined
In order to succeed as a freelancer, you will need to have structure and a schedule from the outset. So, for instance, if you have been used to getting up at 7.30am and hopping into the shower straight away for that 9 to 5 job, then why not keep up that routine as a freelancer? Aim to get up at the same time every day, sit down and do a solid eight hours work. Try to avoid the working-in-your-pjs trap, or the not-opening-your-laptop-until-midday trap, as it won’t make you feel motivated or focused.
And if you don’t have much (or any) work coming in at first? Simple — you can spend those eight hours a day building contacts, researching your industry and creating that sweet website. Of course, you could also spend it blogging about your profession, which will help you to establish your presence, identity and authority.
- You will feel lonely at times — and that’s normal
If you are leaving a typical bustling open-place office space, then it’s natural that having nothing but your own company to deal with every day will be a shock to the system. So much so that it could even have you questioning whether you have done the right thing in going solo (and introverts, no matter what you think, this will affect you as well).
Thankfully, there are a couple of ways to tackle any creeping loneliness. The first is to actually embrace the quiet — notice, for instance, how much more you can achieve without office distractions. The second is to get yourself into a more social environment at least once a week. So you could look into local co-working spaces, which are also great for making contacts, among other benefits.
Alternatively, you could find a freelancer-friendly coffee shop (strong WiFi and multiple socket points are crucial) and head there whenever you are feeling a bit of cabin fever. Plus let’s face it, the coffee there will probably be much better than yours.
Taking the leap into being a freelancer can be an incredible experience, but the key is to start strong. So get networking, get a website, create a disciplined schedule and, most importantly, don’t isolate yourself from others.
You’ve got this.