Ahh, the transition from full-time to freelance. It’s a daunting experience for even the most confident entrepreneur. You’ll have to give up your security of a confirmed salary but the benefits you’ll get in return made it an easy swap for me.
Here are the six steps you need to take before making the transition from full-time to freelance to boost your confidence and make it more secure:
1. Look at your employment contract
Before you find yourself day-dreaming at your desk of a freelance work from home life, it’s important to know if your plans are actually realistic.
Many businesses will include a niggle in their contract where you agree to not work for anyone else. This includes yourself as a freelancer, so you may be going against the terms you agreed to if you start freelance writing whilst still at your full-time job.
Take a look at your employment contract and see if you agreed to any terms like this before you run the risk of being sacked and having more pressure to make your freelancing biz work!
2. Speak to your boss
I’m currently working as a full-time copywriter at an online marketing agency and I’ve arranged a deal with my boss where I cannot do freelancing for competitors, which totally makes sense (conflict of interest and all that!).
My boss also knows how hard-working I am and has recommended me as a freelance writer to his connections looking for content. I’ve had a number of clients through this.
Word of mouth is the best form of referral, after all.
Having a good, open and clear relationship with your boss will make things easier both now and further down the line when you’re ready to leave and make the transition from full-time to freelance.
3. Set up a plan
Once you’ve agreed that it is legally possible to start your freelancing business whilst you’re in a full-time job, I’d always recommend that you set up a plan or road-map of where you see things going. It helps both your boss and yourself know what’s happening, and doesn’t leave you in a mess when you tell your boss that you’re leaving when they expected you to stay for another few months.
Your plan doesn’t have to be long-winded; simply put an average time on when you’d like to make the transition from full-time to freelance. This can be calculated by thinking about:
- How many clients you’re able to take on (working around your 9-to-5)
- How much you’re going to charge per type of project
Once you’ve determined that, you should get a clear picture of how many clients and how often you need to be working in order to be generating equal (or more) income as a freelancer.Think about the amount you can write and pricing BEFORE leaving your full-time job Click To Tweet
This is the time when you might want to put as your rough guide on when to leave your full-time job.
Personally, I’ve added a couple more months onto this deadline just to give me more flexibility if one month goes quiet!
4. Essentials and rebranding
Yay, you’ve got your plan together. Now it’s time to start putting it into action!
If you know where you’re heading, it’s time to start letting other people know, too. Make sure that the you’ve got the following set-up and start to re-brand yourself as a kick-ass freelance writer that’s ready to take on new clients.
If you’ve not created a website before, don’t panic. But, a website is essential for any freelance writer. It’s where you can house your work, services and portfolio.
Plus, it gives you a space to write your own blog and show potential customers that you’re passionate at writing.
Creating your own website doesn’t have to be a massive expense. I use a 1&1 WordPress package and for hosting plus my domain name, it’s around £6/month.
At the bare minimum, here’s what your freelancing website needs to include:
- Homepage: This should instantly tell people that you’re a freelancer and give a brief run-down on what you do.
- About page: Here’s where you should go in-depth with you. Feel free to toot your own horn as much as you want… If people are here, they’re wanting to learn more about you. Give them as much info as you can!
- Services: Now, the juicy part. Your website is there to make sales, so create a page that lists your services and the price of each.
- Portfolio & Testimonials: Link to this page from your Services page OR include it in your main services page to show a prospective client that you can write. Pack it full of writing samples (more on that later!) and nice words that people have said about you and your writing. You can get this from your co-workers or your boss if you’ve not worked for direct-end clients before.
- Contact: Whilst it may not be necessary to dedicate an entire page to your contact details, make sure that your email address and social profiles are easy to find.
- Blog: Even if you can only commit to a blog post once every week, having an active blog will show a visitor to your site that you’re still alive and kicking… Well, writing, I mean.
Once you’ve launched your freelancing website, it’s time to start letting people know about it and that you’re ready to take on work. The best way to start? Social media!
Here are a few quick ways to rebrand yourself:
- Update your LinkedIn: Bio, headline and job position. You could also write an update to announce that you’re accepting freelance clients.
- Update your Twitter bio to include “freelancer”.
- Create a Facebook page for your website/professional services.
- Start a Pinterest profile and pin relevant content to your blog.
Social media is a great way to find new clients and as time progresses, you may find that it becomes your biggest source of inbound leads.
5. Building your portfolio
Before you dive straight in with pitching, make sure that you’ve got a portfolio of relevant content to back you up. Let’s face it, someone isn’t going to want to hire you if you can’t prove that you can do the work!
If you’re currently in a full-time job, building your portfolio is hard. Trust me, I’ve been there and done it. But, it’s manageable.
The best way to start is to define your niche and handpick some publications that post related content. Write a relevant piece and pitch it to an editor there.
Don’t get a response? Don’t worry – write another piece and try pitching to another contact.
Soon enough you’ll have a list of high-profile publications that contain your bylines that you can use to fill your portfolio.
You’ll have to work for free to begin with, but in the long-run it proves your knowledge and can even pick you up a few new clients along the way.Getting your portfolio set-up can be started BEFORE you leave your full-time job! Click To Tweet
6. Looking for freelance gigs
Now that you’ve got everything together in order to set you up, it’s time to do some actual work!
If there’s one thing you should know about starting to freelance, it’s this: stay away from content mills.
Your work will be devalued, you won’t be earning the money you deserve and it can quickly seem pointless to put so much effort into it for so little return.
Instead, try cold emailing or look online for contacts to pitch you. Think about your freelance writing niche and the types of business you’d like to write for.
I did this by narrowing my niche and clearly defining what I wanted to write about (whilst still making it profitable). Once I decided that I loved to write about careers and business, I put together a list of UK companies with blogs that were stagnant or simply didn’t have one at all. Then, I found the contact details for the content marketing manager or Head of Content at the company and sent them a quick pitch about my services, rates and how I can help them.
Cold-emailing like this is a fantastic (and proven) way to find new, high-paying clients when you’re starting out. It’s actually how I got my first ever freelance client and I’m still working with them to this day.
You can even try some freelancer job boards such as FreelanceWriting and Problogger. Although these boards still get some ridiculous 2p per 1,000-word requests, there’s some good’uns if you dig hard enough!
So, there we have it! My ultimate guide on how to transition from full-time to freelance. What is your best tip? And what were you worried about before you made the jump?
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. View my full disclosure here.