The way employment has changed in the last 25 years has created a much larger working population of freelancers. They may operate as sole traders or limited companies, but they are trading their professional wares independently. If you are considering exploring this way of working, here are some tips to get you started and help you succeed:
You must really want to do this. Getting set up can be hard work, the type of hard work that will benefit from your passion and enthusiasm for making it happen. You will likely be taking some sort of risk in changing up your career and deciding to go freelance, so it is a good idea to do your research and find out as much as you can about the freelance lifestyle; how it differs from your current situation, what your priorities are, and whether it is something you really want. Once you have experienced the independence of freelance work, it can be a difficult adjustment to go back to permanent or contract employment should you decide that freelancing is not for you.
Freelancing can often get off to a slow start, so it is easy to become disheartened early on if you assume that getting your freelance business is going to take off overnight. Freelancing is all about growth; building a portfolio, a network, a client base, a brand and a reputation. You should set small and steady goals and try to keep yourself on track, grounded and accountable. Being realistic and pragmatic are fundamental elements to your success.
Think about what it is you are setting out to do and plan well. Be sure to set up your working arrangements effectively. This includes your banking, your computer hardware and software, your website, any marketing or personal branding you need to have in place, and so on. If you organise these things properly, the chances of freelancing success are going to be higher for you.
Know not just what your products and services are, but also who it is you are targeting. You need to be sure that there are people out there who are going to buy whatever it is that you are selling. If you can find your first clients before you even start freelancing, so much the better. Having a clientele from the start gives you both confidence and cash flow early on in your freelance career.
You may be parallel running with your freelance plans while still employed, in which case your employer may be able and willing to help you make the transition by being your first client. Those who manage to leverage their current or most recent employer in this way tend to get off to a strong start in the freelance world.