5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Going Full-Time Freelance
Over the past few years I’ve received a ton of questions, both unsettling (yet motivating) and uplifting, that have helped shape my journey as a self-employed marketing consultant and web designer. While my ‘title’ and business name/vision have shifted a bit, my core purpose and goals have pretty much stayed the same. Now that I’m on year 3 of full-time freelance (and with the current conversation about that word - my definition simply is: the ability to work with multiple companies and businesses as your own, self-employed business), I felt like it’s time for a check-in.
I’m excited to share a bit more of the realness for those ready to give into full-time freelance to give you the courage to take the leap if you feel like these questions are all lining up for a big Y.E.S.
Here’s How I Knew It Was Time To Dive In to full-time freelance:
I had a PURPOSE & A GOAL.
After working at a few agencies along with great college job experiences under my belt – I had a clear idea of what I wanted to accomplish with my own business when the time came.
It just so happened that I relocated to a new city to be with my then boyfriend, now husband, and didn’t feel called to start the job hunt again. At that time, I didn’t know how long we’d be in this city, so I reached out for creative connections to feel the job landscape before I fully chose the path of full-time freelancing. I didn’t feel connected to what I was researching and I knew that I had an opportunity to start fresh with my personal brand. With the support of my other half (and less personal bills TBH), we agreed that as long as the bills are paid – I could try this out. I did, however, need to connect with the creative community to start networking and showcasing my services. Through that process, I did make a great connection to a friend that I’m now pumped to be partnering with on a brand new project. AH! (More on that later!)
My purpose when I first began, was to work directly with small businesses & entrepreneurs on their marketing and social media management. I was their token marketing support and I would do it from afar or in person, eliminating a large ‘agency’ budget that these businesses might not have.
This then led me to becoming a virtual assistant and taking on a LOT (more than I should’ve at the beginning) of tasks for multiple businesses on monthly retainers.
Overall, my end goal was to be able to work with small businesses I believed in, while being able to live anywhere in the world. After all, moving is inevitable as a military spouse and I knew that I wanted to carry my work with me wherever I went.
So now that you know a little bit of my back story, let’s talk about how to set yourself up success. To be transparent, while my ‘salary’ has grown year over year, I have not matched a base salary of what I deem average for my skill set. But the trade off of flexibility, owning my own client base and working with clients around the world has definitely made the trade-off worth it.
Do you have a purpose or goal you’re working towards?
Like you read above, having a purpose, mission, goal, or whatever you’d like to call it, is so important to guiding your direction if you want to begin freelancing or turning your side-hustle into a full-time business. What do you want to accomplish, why are you making the leap, etc. Write these down so you can reference them whenever times get tough, because, they will. You’ll thank yourself later. ;)
Have you honed a skill set you’re ready to showcase?
This is a no-brainer but, to go full-time freelance you’ll want to have at least one main skill set you have NO problem selling to someone who could use your service. You need to have confidence to put this on paper, on a website and if you have ‘em, build case studies. It might shift throughout your journey, but having a mission statement and work showcase to guide what you want to offer is key to starting off strong.
Do you have potential clients in the cue?
With my purpose of working directly with small business and new entrepreneurs, I knew how to find them through social media (#hashtag, they work!), so I was able to start with social media, my personal network, and still help out with past agencies. These projects helped build my portfolio for those dream clients to come along. Before you leave your full-time job, work on building up potential clients and pitching your new services to them. It’s also not bad to be transparent with your current or previous employers to say ‘hey, if you enjoyed what I did for you – we can still work together on a contract basis’ which will hopefully keep some steady income under your belt as you grow your ideal client base.
Do you have support & resources to help you grow?
Being surrounded by a community who truly understands what it’s like to be self-employed is KEY to starting off on the right foot. Once you make the leap it’s very isolating, scary, and exhilarating, so having this community will be very important to answering questions, guiding your path, and just having an ear to listen. Facebook groups are the first place to start but there are freelance communities popping up all OVER the country right now. P.S. I co-founded this community to share the TRUTHFUL side of owning your own biz - not just the ‘6-figure overnight success’. ;)
Have you created a service + pricing structure you’re confident in?
This is a more tangible task in my opinion, but I do think it’s important to start researching your value and have cost in mind for your services. The only way you’re going to be able to branch out and gain new business or clients is by owning your offerings and being confident in what you’re selling. Draft a simple outline of what you’d like to offer, how many hours those projects take you, and add an extra 20% for taxes and expenses. Just a rough outline for ya - but really research your financial plan and be willing to take extra pay cuts, pay out of pocket for expenses and understand that taxes will rule you unless you have great systems in place. Start now!
And just for fun here are a few more:
Are you ready to work longer and harder than any 9-5er + put in over 60 hour work weeks?
Are you ready to stick to a hard budget?
Are you ready to have your business questioned by many, but still persevere?
If you’ve answered YES to all of these questions, then in my opinion, I think you’re just about ready! As a millennial, I know how eager we are to pave our own way, whether its challenging the status quo or clashing with current employers, but I will say take ALL the value you can from your current jobs, learn, question and grow there as much as you can – then transfer all of those skill sets to what your dream goal is. It may take longer than you want, but that knowledge will stay with you forever.
In my next post, I’m going to cover systems I use to help get your business started off on the right foot. Let me know what you want to see more of, below!