Quitting Your Job to Become a Freelancer

The day you’ve been dreading has finally come–your alarm goes off at 5:30 to get you up for work and instead of jumping out of bed to greet the day you groan and through a pillow over your head. You no longer look forward to getting out of bed at the crack of dawn, fighting hour long traffic and going into work just to be stuck in pointless meetings all day.

It’s true, you’ve hit a job rut. So, what do you do? If you’re like most people, you start looking through job websites for another full-time job. A year later, you’re back at the same place. Now you know just going from job to job isn’t satisfying you. What do you do? Perhaps it’s time to start freelancing.

It’s important to know that freelancing isn’t for everyone, but perhaps it’s for you. I wanted to start freelancing because I was tired of never getting to work on what I really wanted to. I was forced into doing design work, when all I wanted to do was code. It was time for a revolution.

Identify the Enemy

The first thing you need to decide is why you really hate your job. Do you just hate the people you work with or the clients they hold? If so, perhaps you really do just need a job switch. But, what if you want to control your own potential for making money, choose your own kinds of projects and decide where and when you want to work? Then freelancing might be perfect for you.

A good way to succeed in your own business is to watch other businesses, so before you decide to leave, do some reconnaissance. What  does this business do right and what are the mistakes they make?

For example, the last place I worked at was a joke. They refused to pay their employees a fair wage, they held back yearly raises and yearly bonuses they claimed were part of the “benefits” package. The clients were a joke as well. They charged businesses an upwards of $20,000 for a crappy designed site that barely worked. They also refused to hire a designer once the regular designer quit, or a developer once I quit. So, now they have two employees doing all of the web work.

However, they did do some good things. They had a yearly fun trip they took their employees on. The people who worked there got a long very well and we often went out to lunch together.

This helped me to realize several things when I decided to go freelance. First, I knew I would be partnering with other freelancers when my clients wanted services I couldn’t provide. I would make sure I paid a fair wage to all of them, instead of paying them the minimum so I could keep the rest. I made sure that clients would get the quality of work they paid for, and I would never overcharge or give them subpar work. I would also turn down projects I wasn’t interested in.

Prepare Your Camps

If you’re going to start freelancing, it’s important to have a quiet place to work. Not only that, but it’s important to enjoy the place you work. When I worked downstairs, it started to drive me nuts because the office was dark, cold and bare. I’ve moved into the sunniest room in the house. It’s actually decorated nicely and I look forward to going into work every morning.

It’s also important to make sure you have a couple of office spaces outside the home. For me, I prefer the cafe in the local Books-A-Million or the Starbucks. Working from home is great, but you’ll find that every once in a while you get a bit tired of being home all the time, so it’s great to have a place you can go and work in quiet.

Round the Troops

When first starting out, it’s good to partner with a few other freelancers. Not only will they be someone to refer your future clients to when they ask for work you can’t provide, but they may end up being the source of your first clients. You should aim to partner with a few freelancers of each service, in case your first choice is out of budget or overscheduled.

Declare War

You can prepare for freelancing as much as you want, but if you never actually start, preparation is pointless. Decide when you want to start and do it–and don’t make excuses. Yes, you may have a family, mortgage and kids to pay for. Did you think that all freelancers are single, homeless and childless?

Freelancing can be scary, but take solace in the fact that thousands have done it and succeed it. The most successful entrepreneurs didn’t get to where they were by taking the easy, predictable road. The jumped into the abyss with both feet and eyes closed.

If you’ve made the decision that freelancing is right for you and you’re ready to take the next step, make sure you give your two-week notice at work, or a month’s notice if possible. You don’t want to burn any bridges and I’ve heard that a lot of freelancers were able to have their previous employer as their first client.

What Next?

So this is it–you’ve put in your two-week notice, quit your job, got your office and your contacts, now what? Here are some articles that will help you get started.

Your Thoughts

How did you quit your job to start freelancing? If you’re stuck on whether or not to do it, what’s holding you back?

Image by Chris Denbow