Taking the Plunge- Freelancing

Becoming a freelancer is a huge decision. You need to be ready to take the perks that come along with working independently, as well as the disadvantages that you may also suffer. Only you will know when you are truly ready to take the plunge, but as a newcomer to the Freelance game, I can share my experiences with you and hopefully give you some guidance in the process.

When Should You Quit?

If you currently have a 8-5 full time job, complete with a reasonable salary, excellent health benefits, stock options, and a 401k all set up and growing, you may find it hard to walk away from safety and towards the deep, unpredictable abyss that is freelancing. For this reason, the individual needs to be truly prepared and committed to his decision.

However, the plunge into freelancing can provide you with a more flexible, more profitable, and more enjoyable career that can be well worth giving up any benefits and feelings of security that your current job gives you.

Suggestions for Freelance Preparations

So, when should you quit your job and start freelancing? I have a few suggestions.

  • Keep a Fund Reserve: Although many suggest that it is not needed, I think you should have at least 6 months of your monthly living expenses saved up just in case. Now this could mean saving for a few months before you quit your job, or taking out a loan, or borrowing from friends or family. If you have a great business idea, or have always wanted to own your own business or work from your home, then you should take the risk. However, it doesn’t hurt to have your reserve fund just in case it takes you a little longer to start profiting from your experience and abilities.
  • Keep an Emergency Fund: If you only have enough money for a basic health insurance plan, then you want to have an emergency fund for any unforeseen bills you may have to pay for, whether it be ambulance bills, or simply several doctors visits.
  • Purchase an appropriate health insurance plan that covers you and your family. I would suggest finding one that does not cover small doctor visits’ bills, but will cover you or a member of your family gets into a serious accident or requires a few nights in the hospital. Opt for paying $50 doctors visits bills instead of a $10,000 hospital bill.
  • Have a plan– don’t step into your future blindly. Develop an action plan and strategy. How are you going to differentiate yourself from those companies or individuals offering the same services / products you are?
  • Don’t be afraid to spend a small amount of marketing dollars: people can’t discover how wonderful you and your products are until they know about you. Spend a few hundred dollars to advertise / market yourself in both online and offline areas. To achieve the highest ROI, find some areas that fit your niche. For example, if you are a nutritionist that will provide customized menus and recipes for individuals, search for some quality nutrition / diet / health blogs and purchase an ad in their sidebar.

Any other Freelancing Suggestions?

Does anybody else have any advice for taking the freelancer plunge? Feel free to leave them in the comments section. Disagree with any of my suggestions? Please refute them!

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This post was inspired by Freelance Folder’s Birthday Contest, in which we were challenged to share our most helpful freelancing advice.

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12 thoughts on “Taking the Plunge- Freelancing

  1. It also would be a good idea to start using social media sites before you quit your job. It can be a great way to do some free marketing or testing of your ideas. I have found it pretty easy to find people with similar interests to myself via Twitter, Plurk, Stumbleupon to name a few. Then seeing relevant articles, conversations or just asking these new friends for some input is a great way to get cheap and unbiased insights on your ideas.

  2. Most importantly, it’d be wise to quit, when you can live off your product. I see no other reasons to jump the ship without a proven, working business model, unless you want to be seeking a job again.

  3. Start part-time. Don’t quit your job until your income from freelancing meets or exceeds your income from your day job for 3 consecutive months. For added security, wait 6 months.

  4. I agree, that working on it part-time while keeping your day job is the best option. This way, you still take advantage of the salary, health options, etc. Then you can focus on your work, rather than how your going to come up with some money to get by. Once you are making enough off of your business, then it is time to say bye bye to your old crummy job, and start working for yourself!

  5. The idea about marketing is great, it is important though to develop a brand and an image, I have seen to many people underestimate the power of perceived perception and have tried to make their own logos, fliers, web pages ect.. they seem to think that they can do the work of a professional designer and this makes their business look incredibly unprofessional. It is hard to overcome the first impressions of potential customers. it is a good Idea to at least consult with a professional when developing a company’s image. It can be worth the money to make the company look like the real thing rather than a some fly by night operation with high school newspaper and filled in template looking graphics.

  6. Excellent advice. Here’s one more suggestion … Even your part-time income exceeds the full income income for 6 months and more, think about this before you tender your resignation. Do you have the discipline and perseverance to be an independent? You don’t have to go office at 9am, you can have a 2-hour coffee break and there’s nobody to say you can’t stop working for 3 weeks. Drive, passion, discipline and perseverance will determine how successful you are as an independent. Our expertise and skills are hardwares, our inner self is the software.

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