The fear of ditching a 9 to 5 job is all too real for those contemplating freelancing full-time. A predictable pay schedule, health insurance, and a 401K afforded by a day job are securities that rebuttal the option of freelancing. However, as a freelancer, you can have all of the aforementioned and other perks like flexibility in your schedule, avoiding hostile work environments, and the stresses of dealing with your nagging boss. If you are afraid you won’t be able to make ends meet as a freelancer, think again. It’s possible to not only survive but to thrive as a freelancer.
Start by understanding what you’re good at. You would be surprised at the niches available to freelancers and how well they pay. Think about your hobbies and side hustles that you enjoy doing for fun. Chances are your niche is totally outside of the scope of your degree, but you’re passionate about it and would do it for no pay. Then there is the possibility that it might be tailored to your degree, and you just aren’t sure if you can make it without the backing or established structure of a major corporation ( i.e. your job). Whether it’s coding or freehand drawing, there is a freelance market waiting for your talent.
Once you’ve decided on a niche, look for companies that need your skill. This may take a bit of research and Google searching, but it will be worth it once you start landing gigs. During this step, don’t forget about the lost art of networking via word of mouth. Ask friends, family, and other freelancers if they are aware of any opportunities. Utilizing other freelancers is a great strategy for landing gigs because many know of opportunities that fall outside of their skill set, and you might be a perfect fit. Cold emailing gets a bad rep, but it won’t hurt to try. When cold emailing, try to find an “inside email” other than the one posted on the company’s website. Although the website email is good, its not great. Do some digging via social media and LinkedIn to get in contact with someone who would otherwise be unreachable.
Perfecting your pitch can go a long way in the world of freelancing. It isn’t enough to reach out and say, “Hey, I [insert skill]. Can you hire me?” You have got to sell it! Being able to present your skill with swag and confidence stems from believing you have something to offer and that something is dope! Surviving as a freelancer takes a high level of self-esteem and belief in your talents. Research how to pitch and then add your own unique touch to the standard format.
Now that you’ve landed a gig — don’t stop looking for more. Many freelancers fail at this step and revert to the 9 to 5 because they are not generating adequate income. As a full-time freelancer, chances are one gig or customer is not enough (unless you hit the jackpot!). So, don’t stop at just one. The goal is to build a solid portfolio and/or clientele base that will provide financial security. If your skillset is a one and done type of talent such as logo design or website development, build around that skill by offering similar services to each customer or company. For example, if you design logos, offer to design other promotional items that might be needed, such as Instagram/Facebook posts or visual communication pieces for the advertisement of upcoming events.
Organizational skills are crucial to thriving in the freelancing game. Outside of the obvious tasks, like keeping track of deadlines and ongoing projects, it is important to also keep track of potential leads and new ideas. By staying organized, you won’t forget about following up. Many times as a freelancer, you will have to follow up on a potential lead to secure the deal. You don’t want to forget about a promising gig all because you weren’t organized enough to remember to follow through. Whether you’re old school and handwrite your to-do list or manage your calendar with the latest technology, make sure to stay on top of your organizational skills.
On a final note, freelancing is a viable and lucrative option for you. Surviving and thriving outside of a day job is a big possibility, so go for it!