10 Things To Keep In Mind When Starting Out As A Freelancer

So you’ve realized after many years that your day job is not giving you what you want and you know you have the skills to start earning money on your own. You know people out there are already doing it… and doing it really good. Think you could do it too?

Well, you definitely could and if you’ve decided to take the plunge then go for it. But before you start your freelancing career, here are 10 things you should keep in mind. I hope these will help you in your freelancing journey.

1. Don’t Quit Your Job Too Soon

Mind you, I am not saying that you should continue with your day job during the initial stages of your freelancing career. That’s because I quit my day job 3 months back and started out as a web worker and it’s been an enjoyable experience so far.

If you want to take the risk then do it but make sure you’ve done your research well and you’re confident that you’ll be able to survive without your job during the first few months. If you have any doubts then it’d probably be better to start freelancing on the side. You should not quit your job in haste. Make sure you only take calculated risks.

2. Be Prepared For The Toil

Experienced web workers know that freelancing is no child’s play and it’s hard work, usually harder than the day job. Hence if you’re determined to go solo, you should also prepare to burn the midnight oil and work a little harder, at least for a couple months. You’ll have to learn to wear many hats: accountant, marketer, customer service, etc…

3. Start Managing Your Time from Day One

Time management is probably the most common of all the problems freelancers face and keeping that in mind, try your best to manage time from day one. Make everyday schedules and stick to them. If you decide to work from home, you’ll see distractions are everywhere! Only this time you won’t get paid if you take longer breaks.

4. Avoid Procrastination

The realization of the fact that you are your own boss can further lead to a loss of self-discipline and hinder your progress as a freelancer.

Remember, you are still accountable to yourself, to your clients and of course, to your bank account :). No more paychecks every 2 weeks.

5. Be Frugal

It’s important to be frugal and invest wisely during your initial days of freelancing. The more you save, the more you’ll have to invest in future projects, marketing and growing your business.

6. Network Like Crazy!

Networking with others is essential and as a freelancer it can help you to get more work. Network as much as possible and focus on building relationships. Make friends with other designers or writers, read blogs, comment on blogs, send emails, give business cards, attend conference. You get the idea! :)

7. First Project

Your first project is very important and you should put your heart and soul into it (in fact, in all your projects). A good testimonial from a client will certainly motivate you, give you an inherent satisfaction and also help you get more clients. Think ‘long term‘.

8. Don’t Stress Yourself

Under no circumstances you should compromise your health. If you stress yourself or even get sick then you could potentially lose a lot of money. Don’t go overboard with your work and lose sleep over it.

I know it’s easier said than done, but the proverb still holds true – ‘ Health is Wealth ‘. Moreover if you stress yourself, then you’ll soon start thinking that freelancing is no better than a day job! Manage time and enjoy freelancing without being stressed. Try yoga or meditation, and take some time off for yourself (not in front of the computer!)

9. Acquire Skills

Whether you’re a blogger, a photographer or a web designer, you have to be well versed with at least the basic technical skills required to make things work. Of course, always work on sharpening your skills, but don’t stop there, keep learning new tricks and techniques.

10. Learn To Unlearn

As you start freelancing, you’ll find that a lot of your assumptions were wrong and things are not exactly like you thought they would. The catch here is that as you go on to learn and adapt to new things, you should also quickly unlearn things which you thought were useful initially but don’t seem to help anymore. You’re not at the day job anymore, things are a lot different now that you’re on your own. Try to get rid of some of the bad habits you developed when you were working 9-5.

What Do You Think ?

I hope the points will prove to be useful for budding freelancers. I’d like to know your experiences and thoughts and what else should one keep in mind when he’s starting out as a freelancer?