The prospect of being your own boss—setting your own hours, rates, and deciding on the kind of work you do is exciting—and incredibly daunting! We know you got this—but before you can kick back with your laptop working from a hammock, there are a few things to consider. Ditching the security of a regular paycheck to enter the dicey and competitive world of freelancing takes guts—and planning!
Here’s five questions you need to ask yourself—and some help from us for finding the answers—if you’re considering full-time freelancing as a creative professional:
1. Do you have enough saved up (or have the financial support) for at least the first 3-6 months of launching your freelance biz? This is the most important question to ask yourself as in the beginning, you’ll need some capital to set up your business and, most importantly, get through the lean times before you score your first big gig. This will also help make a stable nest egg as you work to drum up clients. It’s always good to have a plan for the worst-case scenario, while working for the best!
2. What’s your budget? Making a budget, along with figuring out your projected revenue, is pretty much the second most important thing you need to figure out before embarking on your freelance adventure. You should give serious thought when setting your rates—answering questions like, should you go hourly or per project? There’s also calculating overhead and the market value of your work—how much do similar products and services out there go for?
3. Do you have a list of potential clients ready? Whether you’re doing graphic design or content marketing, identifying a niche market, or even reaching out to potential clients who may be interested in your services, it's a good idea to map out where your first few gigs may be coming from.
4. What are you offering? What’s your niche and brand? Zeroing in on what you’re offering will help you market those services to the right potential clients. Additionally, you’ll want to strategize a brand for yourself (even though it may be just you, you are the brand now!), and a visual presence, whether on social media, or in the form of a website, describing what you do and providing examples of your work. It’s good to note that even without a website, there are tons of platforms out there specific to your field where you can post your work : Behance for designers, Contently for writers, for example.
5. What are your corollary skills? In addition to your niche specialty, it may also be worth brainstorming a set of complementary skills that can help become your bread and butter. For example, some freelance journalists do copywriting on the side (as long as there’s no conflict of interest), and filmmakers will lean into their editing skills to produce corporate training videos.