Freelancing on the side is a great way to make a little extra cash or pursue a hobby. But for some passionate creatives and entrepreneurial types there comes a time when they wonder if they should make the move to full-time freelancing .
Deciding to quit your day job and freelance full-time is scary. I should know. I just quit a great full-time job to freelance. But I decided that the benefit of being able to work for myself on projects that I love would be worth the risk.
You can do it, too. With the right amount of preparation, information and courage, you will be ready to quit your day job and commit to a full-time freelancing career. Here are the steps to take to get started.
1. Have a vision.
The first obstacle on the road to starting a freelance business is the largest: overcoming the mental hurdle that’s telling you, “You can’t and you won’t do it.”
To overcome that imposter syndrome (the idea that you’re masquerading as someone you’re not and aren’t worthy), show yourself that freelancing can be reality. Your idea isn’t a whim; it is a business plan. Start the process by establishing a business name and creating a vision for your company brand.
In The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki suggests asking, “Why am I starting this organization? Why should customers patronize it?”
This will help you create a mental picture of your business and give yourself a clear, real path to follow.
2. Decide on a form of business.
You can operate your freelance business as a sole proprietorship as an unincorporated business run entirely by one individual. Or you can set up a legal entity for your business, such as a limited liability company or corporation.
Many freelancers choose to set up an limited liability company as it bestows the benefits of a legal entity without the complexities of a corporation. Consider your business goals and educate yourself on the types of benefits that come with each business type. Then set the wheels in motion and set up your business.
You can decide to change the form of business later, but it’s good to have a plan from the start so you can properly arrange the accounting and tax plan.
Related: 5 Reasons Why Zero-Hour Contracts Are the Future of Work
3. Create marketing materials.
Lay the groundwork by developing marketing materials. This way you can start to establish buzz before officially launching the firm. At a minimum, set up a website, create Twitter and Facebook accounts and order business cards.
As you begin to tell family, friends and contacts about your new venture in the weeks or months before the launch, you will want to have materials that inform them about it.
Start networking and building interest right away. You may be surprised by the referrals that family and friends can generate when they fully understand your business and know where to send potential clients.
4. Prepare a portfolio.
Never launch a freelancing career before you have experience creating the products or providing the services you plan to sell. Wait to launch until you have multiple quality samples of the work you will sell.
If you can’t compile a portfolio of samples that accurately represent your work, then push the brakes. A portfolio will be instrumental in marketing your products and services, so be sure you have quality work to show off beforehand.
Generating samples for your portfolio isn’t hard, but it might take time and resources. If you have no paid assignments or previous work to put in a portfolio, create some. Offer your services for free or just manufacture some generic samples in your free time.
5. Set up financial processes.
Before the work starts rolling in, be sure you’re prepared for it. Set prices, create invoice templates, establish an accounting plan and consider how much to set aside for taxes.
It’s easier to keep up with your accounting along the way than to deal with it all later. So create processes