As you probably know by now, after working for the same employer for over 12 years I left in May and set myself up as self-employed. Becoming a social media freelancer was something I had wanted to do for ages but had never been brave enough to take the leap. Moving abroad forced my hand and now I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner!
It can be catch-22 though – you can’t give up your day job until you have some money behind you, but it’s hard to earn money freelancing while you are working every day.
If you’d like to make the jump into working for yourself, here are my tips on how to set yourself up as a freelancer while still working full time…
If you want to set up as a freelancer in an industry that you don’t have years of experience in then you’re probably going to need to retrain. Maybe you do have some work experience but no qualifications and would like to get them under your belt before you pitch to clients.
Either way, there are loads of fantastic online courses you can take in your own time to expand your skills. Some involve attending live webinars, others are pre-recorded courses, some require an exam at the end.
Set your rates
Before you start getting new freelance clients you need to decide how much you are going to charge. The best way to do this is often to start with the hourly rate – what hourly rate are you prepared to work for? How much do you need to earn to pay the bills?
You can also speak to other freelancers in the same industry to see what the average rates are.
It’s always best to go a bit higher if you are unsure on where to set your rates, that way if a client wants to haggle you have room to negotiate.
One of the hardest parts of becoming a freelancer is getting clients. You can’t leave your job until you have enough clients to pay the bills – but where to find them?
If you want to start freelancing work there are lots of websites to help you get started and find freelance jobs. I started using People Per Hour to get my first clients. Businesses post projects and freelancers bid for the work. It can be quite low paid but is a good place to start building your portfolio. My first clients found on PPH referred me to friends if theirs and I started to build up my client base from there.
When you’re self-employed you have to network in order to meet potential clients and get your name out there. It could be networking in real life, attending local events for small businesses or popping into local businesses to introduce yourself. If you are meeting people in person, get some business cards made up to hand out to new contacts.
There is also obviously a lot of networking that can be done online. Join LinkedIn and make sure you have filled out as much information on your profile as possible. Connect with relevant people and join groups for your type of business.
Set contracts with clients
When you have got yourself some clients don’t forget to set contracts with them before starting any work. A typical contract should include your rates, terms of payment, and a notice period.
It’s a good idea to purchase a contract template when you first become a freelancer, then you can tailor it to each new client.
Self-employed insurance is one of the things that many freelancers forget when they first start working for themselves.
If you’re going to be working for yourself you need to make sure you have adequate insurances in place. If you’re unable to work you won’t receive sick pay like you did when working for an employer. You also need to make sure you are covered in case a client were to sue you for any reason.
Make sure this is something you get sorted before you set yourself up as a freelancer.
Make sure working remotely is for you
If you’ve never worked from home before it can take some getting used to. There are many pros and cons to being a freelancer and you might find that working at home by yourself all day isn’t all you thought it would be.
Cutting down your hours in your job can be a good idea to allow you to ease yourself into freelancing gradually. It will also give you a chance to try working remotely and make sure that it really is for you.
Hand your notice in
Once you have clients and have made sure that working for yourself is the right move, it’s time to hand your notice in to your employer! Spend some time writing the letter and working out what you want to say so that you’re prepared.
If you are leaving a job that is similar to the work you’re going to be doing on a freelance basis, you could offer to help out while they find your replacement.
Now you know how to set yourself up as a freelancer are you ready to make the move to being your own boss?
Good luck with your plans whatever you decide!