Getting a Fresh Start as a Freelancer

Are you hoping to get a fresh start as a freelancer? Or, are you a freelancer seeking to switch gears?

Both freelancers and non-freelancers alike look at freelancing as a chance to get a fresh start–with good reason. Freelancing does give you the chance to try something new.

There’s no doubt that freelancing offers a lot of opportunities. Freelancers have a great deal of control over their careers. But the transition to freelancing from employment or from one area of freelancing to another isn’t always easy.

In this post, I’ll address what you should do if you are relying on freelancing for a fresh start.

Moving from Full-Time Employment

So, you hate your job. And you’ve always wanted to be a graphic designer. Should you quit your job and become a freelance graphic designer (or writer, or whatever)?

Maybe.

If you did quit, you’d be in good company. Many freelancers started out as full-time employees. But if your full-time position wasn’t in graphic design (or whatever), you may be in for a rough ride.

Here are some facts to keep in mind before you ditch your day job:

  1. Competition among freelancers is fierce. There are already a lot of freelancers out there doing exactly what you want to do.
  2. You need samples of your work to get work. If your full-time job wasn’t in the area where you plan to freelance, you may not have any samples to show.
  3. It’s harder than it looks. Freelancing may seem like a wonderfully flexible lifestyle (and it can be), but it also requires discipline.
  4. Most freelancers don’t earn a living income at first. It can take weeks, or even months, to build up a client base large enough support yourself.

Okay. I admit that those facts seem pretty discouraging. After thinking about it, you may feel that freelancing is totally out of your reach.

But wait, your freelancing dream need not die. There’s a better way.

Here’s an easier way to make the transition to freelancing from full-time employment:

  • Take a course (or two) in the field in which you hope to freelance. This serves the dual purpose of developing your skills and helping you to build a portfolio.
  • Keep your day job and freelance on the side. You can build up your client base and still enjoy the perks of a full-time job.

After a few months of freelancing part-time you’ll get a better idea of whether you’re cut out for the challenges of freelancing. You’ll also discover whether you’ll be able to support yourself as a freelancer.

And remember, as a freelancer with a background in another industry you may actually have an advantage.

Who better to write a medical article than someone with a nursing degree? Or who better to design an online store than someone with retail experience?

What if you’re already a freelancer, but you want to freelance in a different area?

Changing Your Freelancing Specialty

If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you may decide it’s time for a change of pace. You want to continue freelancing, but you’re also ready for something new. Changing your freelancing specialty might be the answer.

Don’t worry. There are plenty of successful freelancers who move from one specialty to another.

I know of former graphic designers who become writers and former writers who decide to open an online store. You too can make a successful change in your freelancing direction.

Although you already understand what freelancing is about, in many ways your steps to a fresh start are a lot like those of someone coming from full-time employment:

  1. Take courses in your new field. The additional training will help you to build a case for yourself as an expert in your new field.
  2. Consider starting a new, specialized website. You probably already have a freelancing website, but if you’re switching gears you may wish to create a new website for your new niche.
  3. Don’t drop your old specialty. At least not at first. If you’re financially dependent on your first specialty, you’ll need to build up your client base.

Your Turn

Have you used freelancing to get a fresh start? Did you transition from full-time employment to freelancing or did you switch freelancing specialties?

Share your experiences in the comments.

Image by Randy Son Of Robert

Comments

  1. says

    Some great tips here, Laura. I am one of those who transitioned from an employer-based career (30+ years) to freelancing. Well, transitioned is a bit too mild a term – jumped might be more accurate. :-)

    One thing I said I wished I had when I started was content to share from the get-go – like free ebooks, reports, whatever. It takes time to build those so in hindsight, it would have been nice to have something when I launched my business site.

  2. says

    Cathy Miller,

    Great tip! If you have any kind of advance notice, it would be a good idea to start developing free content. A blog is probably the easiest way to go.

    Of course, most freelancers probably start freelancing first and worry about having something to share later.

  3. says

    Great tips, especially, “Keep your day job and freelance on the side.”

    I would also recommend attending networking functions to expedite building up your client base. Many meetings start before the average workday begins, so you will find groups that fit into your schedule while you are still working full-time. Some start as early as 7:00 a.m. Others meet after the workday ends – after 6:00 p.m.

    Good luck!

  4. says

    I was a freelancer for 10 years, I really enjoyed it until the economy took a slight turn. I really like the sound of having a full time job whilst keeping your freelancing on the side. Sounds like the best of both worlds without the risk.

  5. says

    I agree completely with you.

    For someone who is new to freelancing getting work/projects can be quite a challenge. Few important things for a getting a good head start in freelancing in my experience,
    Try built a profile describing the nature of work, relevant past experience (if any), certifications linked to the services you offer. If you are a writer, photographer its good to have some sample of you work which can be shown/displayed
    If there is no specific past experience that you carry, do not worry, however be realistic of the prices that you quote. You may start with something very reasonable. With experience you can quote better rates.
    Get your self registered on some good freelancing websites. I believe this is the most important as projects are spread far and wide and you stand a chance to get them from any part of the world. One such good website with abundant projects that I could probably recommend is http://www.freelanceindia.com
    Be focused, sincere and diligent work surely will come in

  6. says

    Matrace Dormeo – Ortopedické matrace, zdravotné matrace, penový matrac.
    Vychutnajte si pokojný, zdravý spánok. Akcia matrace: doprava ZADARMO + darček.

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