Last week I started a series called “Freelance 101” and wrote a quick post all about ‘How to get Started’ with freelancing. Go take a read and come back here to follow the train of thought on, if you haven’t already.
So now that you’ve determined, ‘yes I do want to pursue this life of freelance’, here are some tips to get you going:
First up, let’s just tackle this monster called, money, which tends to be at the forefront of most pre-freelancer’s concerns.
Question: ”How realistic is it to make a living from freelance work? How long does it typically take to get established enough to stop working other jobs? Any tips for money- and time-saving strategies when you’re starting out?”
My journey of how I got started was probably slightly different than most people. For some reason when I took the leap I didn’t really care about money, I didn’t work a part time job (which I probably should of!) because I was broke as hell, didn’t have much of savings, living pay check to pay check and earning less than your average retail job. But for some reason I just felt I was called to focus on this lifestyle of believing and trusting that I would somehow have enough money to live- perhaps naively I believed- but somehow I did survive and made enough! Now two years in, I’m finally making a pretty steady income month to month. I definitely feel much more confident to rely on my freelance work to provide for my rent, living and life.
Realistically though, I would say stick to your part time job, don’t quit it just yet. Unless it’s really that unbearable, then quit. Nothing bugs me more than people that hate their job- because I so strongly believe that what takes up most of our lives should be an extension of what we love and enjoy. A part time job would work best, so you have a bit of steady income but also have time to work on your freelance work. Don’t quit until you have at least 6 months- 1 years worth of savings that you can live on, the more money the better obviously. But why I say 6 months is because probably for the first 2-3 months you’ll be trying to build your cliental and learn the ropes of the freelance lifestyle, most likely not making very much income. Come 6-8 months in, I believe you should be able by now to have made somewhat of an income. This is in no way tested, just my personal experience so don’t kill me if it doesn’t work out the same for you! Or if your like me, and just want to risk it all- I would highly suggest just taking the jump- quitting what you currently have, and just living life as it comes. The great thing about risking it all- is that the higher the risk the more you hustle to make it work for you instead of rely on something else to provide.
Most of time when you first start off, you’ll probably just have a handful of clients who are your friends and family and your best tool for more work will be word of mouth. Don’t be afraid to tell your previous clients to pass your contacts on. Word of mouth works wonders, but while you’re having this word of mouth work for you, get on your social media game asap. Hands down, this by far has been the biggest money saver- free marketing. Start getting to know the online community around you, post good work often, and work hard to get your name on as many blogs, websites, and platforms possible. The key is to build a good online presence so that other people that don’t even know you, will be asking to work with you!
Read More, Internet Less
I’m getting ahead of myself by talking about social media- so back onto the topic of getting from your current job to the freelance job you want to be at, below are a couple of great reads.
1. The Self Promo Handbook by Computer Arts
This magazine-book was on sell early January 2012 in the UK, so it’s a while back and I don’t know if it’s still in print, but I believe you can get it online. Essentially, it’s a great book all about social media/self promo and breaks down the steps really simply for you. Creative Bloq gives a brief summary about the book which you might be able to get something from.
2. The Overlapping Technique by Sean Wes
You can get it in podcast or book form, where Mr. Wes goes into real detail as to how he overlapped work with ‘play/passion’ to get him to where he is now- one of the world’s leading hand lettering artist. It’s real practical to digest and follow.
Though I might be speaking to those who are thinking of freelancing specifically in the areas of graphic design, I believe that any stream of freelancing has so much in common and we can definitely learn from each other in some way, weather it be a freelance makeup artist, food stylist, interior designer etc. Shout out to my girl, Emma Holmes for brainstorming and discussing some of these thoughts with me!
Next week we’ll talk about the practicals like business plans, contracts, and such!
Let me know your thoughts and what you think, feedback is always awesome. Again, I hope this was helpful!