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Successful Freelancing – Prepare for the Transition

6 min read
FREELANCING

Prepare for the Transition

The most exciting and eagerly anticipated phase of freelancing happens after all the planning and we haven’t quite reached it yet! There’s a good reason for putting the brakes on until we know exactly where we’re going a freelancer who has built a solid foundation of planning has a far better chance of surviving than a freelancer who hasn’t prepared for the plunge.

Establishing Goals and Milestones

Deciding How Far to Jump

Now that you’ve made the decision to become a freelancer, we’ve reached the point of short-, medium-, and long-term preparation. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to jump in running as fast as you can. However, it’s been proven time and again that to ensure the best chance of success, you should expend plenty of effort in planning and preparation. This raises the question of which work mode to begin your freelance life with: full-time or part-time.

If you’re a student nearing the end of your studies, you’ve got a distinct time to work towards. (That said, I recommend that unless you have run a business previously, don’t go freelance straight after graduating spend some time in employment in your chosen field first, to get those skills polished.) This also applies if your current work is coming to a close you may be on a fixed-term contract, or the company you’ve been working for is winding up. However, for many people, the entry to freelancing is a case of juggling full-time employment with preparations to exit the rat race.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both situations, and you’ll need to weigh these up carefully. Let’s take a moment to look at some of them.

Freelancing on the Side

There’s a lot to be said for freelancing “on the side,” at least in the beginning:

  • This is a great way to test the waters without making that big jump.
  • You can spend as much after-hours time as you need on planning your business.
  • You can save just-in-case money for as long as it takes for you to feel comfortable before venturing into the unknown.
  • You’re able to be choosier with the work you take on, as your salary is still coming in to help with costs.
  • If you don’t have any good recent work to show, part-time freelancing allows you to build a great portfolio before you move to full-time.
  • The clients you groom now are likely to be with you once you make that leap, helping with immediate cash flow.
  • It allows you to take your time to fit out the home office, without blowing your starting budget.
  • Freelancing part-time after hours, as well as holding down a full-time position, gives you the authentic taste of a busy week as a freelancer. This can help you determine your ability to cope with that amount of work at any given time.

There are a few disadvantages to this practice, though:

  • Depending on your employment contract, you may be restricted from doing work that directly competes with the services offered by your employer. It’s best to approach your boss to discuss this.
  • Most clients will want to contact you during their workday hours, which tend to be when you’re busy at your full-time gig.
  • You lose out on the all-important downtime hours of evenings and weekends. If you attract lots of work, you may end up exhausting yourself trying to work two jobs.
  • You’ll be cautious of growing too fast, given you have restricted hours in which to work. It can become tricky trying to keep everyone happy, and you may have to turn down new work in order not to fail existing clients.

Freelancing Full-time

There are some compelling advantages to jumping in with both feet:

  • You’ll have the freedom to set up your freelance life, instead of juggling it with a full-time job.
  • Full-time start-up mode means that you have plenty of time in which to network, make important contacts, and meet prospects.
  • There are no issues with your employer being aggrieved about you working freelance on the side, and you’ll have no hesitation in taking on as many new clients and projects as you can handle.

There are, however, some disadvantages to full-time freelancing straight away:

  • Nothing feeds self-doubt more than work failing to come in during those first few weeks.
  • The cash drain, while you rush around making contacts and courting business, can really hurt your back pocket.
  • The all-important planning tends to be the first casualty when those projects come in understandably, you’ll be more interested in taking an opportunity to earn some much-needed money than mapping out your legal business structure.

Taking Time to Plan

“Failures don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan,” says best-selling author and business motivational speaker, Harvey MacKay.

If you are planning to start freelancing part-time, you should have the time to put together all of the plans and start saving for the just-in-case rainy-day money. On the other hand, if you plan to move straight into full-time freelancing, remember that you’ll have those looming deadlines as soon as you take on projects. Even so, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore planning or preparation.

Many freelancers and small businesses fail in their first few years, and it’s widely agreed by experts that the number-one reason for such failure is because those businesses had little or no form of planning. This planning document doesn’t need to be a huge tome of numbers and words; it really is the summation of what you have been thinking, committed to paper.

Your plan could be just a few pages, or it could be dozens, but unless you have grand plans to circulate it for investors or financial institutions to read, avoid using buzzwords and reams of useless blue-sky figures. The plan is for your eyes only, so keep it succinct and to the point, and an honest appraisal of the “who, what, when, and how” of your plans.

There are many elaborate methods for writing a solid business plan, but let’s start by creating a text document, and answering what questions we can from the list in Example 2.1. For those questions to which you don’t know the answer yet, just write the question, reminding yourself to add that material as you go.

Example 2.1. Business Planning Questions

Summary

  • What is the initial concept?
  • What is your current situation?
  • What will your key success factors be?
  • What are your longer-term vision and goals?
market analysis

  • What does the current market look like?
  • What is your target market?
  • What are the characteristics of your perfect client?
  • What do your target clients require?
competitive overview

  • What does your industry look like?
  • Are there many competitors?
  • Who are your five closest competitors?
  • What products or services do they offer?
  • What opportunities do you have to be unique? (Can you fill a niche or be different from your competitors in some way?)
  • What are the risks and threats?
sales and marketing

  • How will you attract clients?
  • How can potential clients find you?
  • What marketing activities would you consider?
plan of action

  • What do you need to do in order to kick things off?
  • What should you do in the medium term?
  • What are some longer-term plans?

A SWOT ANALYSIS

WHAT IS AND WHY FREELANCING

THE SKILLS REQUIRED FOR BEING A GREAT FREELANCER

This post contains the content of book The Principles of Successful Freelancing By Miles Burke below is a link of the complete book The Principles of Successful Freelancing

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