Starting a freelance career sounds like the ultimate dream: working independently, whenever and wherever you want, as well as choosing who you work with. If this appeals to you and you want to quit your full-time job to take that big leap, becoming a freelancer is a great idea. I know, it sounds scary! But like any other challenge in life, it will require you to create a new mindset, be persistent, and use your creativity in ways you’ve never imagined.
Once you’re on track, the benefits are extremely satisfying. Being a freelancer can be difficult at times, and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But for me, however, freelance work has been an incredibly rewarding journey. I have more flexibility, I pick my own clients (and also fire the bad ones), and I can choose my own assignments. And honestly, you will be the best boss you ever had.
So if you’re like me, grab a hot cup of tea, relax, and follow my four pieces of advice to someone who is about to start a career as a full-time freelancer.
#1 Get comfortable with inconsistency.
One important step in the process of becoming a freelancer is to shout it from the rooftops! Yes, let everyone know that you have transitioned to independence and are ready for business. Go ahead and do as much networking as you can, gain confidence by selling yourself, showcase your portfolio, and have a marketing plan ready. Building your personal brand is essential to gain recognition and make people want to hire you.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you will encounter clients who just can’t seem to pay on time. You can be the best, most trusted freelancer in the world, completing projects on time, and keeping track of invoices, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean your clients will do the same. It’s important that you are financially prepared for hiccups like these and save enough funds to cover until you get paid.
#2 Adopt a CEO mindset.
When you transition from full-time employee to full-time freelancer, a shift takes place from thinking like an employee to thinking like a business owner. As a freelancer, you are your own boss, bookkeeper, business developer, HR department, and project manager all in one. As I became a more experienced freelancer, I started to think of myself as a CEO. I began to act more professionally, which resulted in attracting better clients. I also hired a lawyer who could help me with contracts, and doing this made me feel more confident controlling my business.
Freelancing is a way of working that offers you a lot of freedom. You could be a freelancer who prefers to do smaller projects for many different clients. Others like to work on long-term projects for one client for a number of months. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with. Most importantly, as an entrepreneur, you want to develop the skills you need to lead and work with efficiency and focus, and to set your priorities for your projects.
#3 Keep up with taxes and paying your own benefits.
Ask any freelancer about self-employment taxes and you will surely hear a big sigh. Many freelance business owners consider keeping up with taxes to be one of the most daunting and important parts of being self-employed. But don’t worry, after a while, it will become routine. Paying your taxes on time can also have a positive impact on your credit score.
Keep track of your business expenses (from furniture, to travel and lunch with clients) so you can write these off at the end of the year. Efficiently monitoring your finances, invoices, expenses, and taxes will give you peace of mind. There are also many useful tools to help you complete these tasks, such as Quickbooks.
#4 Know the importance of networking and building a portfolio.
It is essential to build a good network of people who appreciate you, potential customers, and people who can connect you with others. Find where your customers are moving. I advise you to do your research on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, professional associations, etc. Networking takes time, and if you are consistent and gain confidence selling yourself, sooner or later, you will start to make meaningful and authentic connections with people you admire and trust, and someone may end up referring you or even hiring you.
About the Author: Silvia Cantu is a Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary art director and visual artist. She is always looking for new stimuli, whether it is for work or style. Passionate about beauty in all its forms, Silvia is an all-around designer. She’s made a full-time job from her obsession and now she’s an eclectic artist with a strong eye for digital design. Silvia graduated with a degree in fashion design from Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan where she cultivated her talent for design and art direction. After university, she started working freelance with national and international clients in London, Sydney, Los Angeles, and Toronto in the fields of fashion and beauty. Her clients include big names such as Nike, ELLE Magazine, For Love and Lemons, Casio, and Dr. Roebuck’s.