How to Become a Full-Time Freelancer - Get Out of Debt, Save More Money, and Retire Early | Scott Alan Turner

How to Become a Full-Time Freelancer

By Katie Cline

Aug 27

Making the choice to become a full-time freelancer provides you with the ability to work from home or abroad. Since it’s possible to travel the world on the cheap, many full-time freelancers have turned their work into a globetrotting way of life. Others use their full-time freelance business as a way to be closer to their loved ones.

One common trait shared by most freelance professionals is that they enjoy the freedoms associated with their lifestyle.

A recent study conducted by Upwork shows that 1 in 3 Americans is currently performing some freelance task to supplement their incomes.

With freelance opportunities becoming more mainstream, does it make sense for you to become a full-time freelancer?

What Is Your Motivation for Becoming a Full-Time Freelancer?

While world travels may be the motivation of many full-time freelancers, you may personally want to start up your freelancing business as a way to stay at home and spend more time with your family. Another motivating factor is that freelance work could potentially provide you with a significant pay raise since you will be able to set your own rates.

It is important to quantify your freelancing motivations to see if the lifestyle matches up with your intended end goal. After all, it’s possible that you could find a “Work from home” position through a large corporation if you wish to enjoy the work-from-anywhere lifestyle.

Regardless of your motivations, becoming a full-time freelancer provides unique perks and advantages that an office job may not be able to provide. Let’s dig deeper into how you can jumpstart your full-time freelance career ambitions.

Gauge the Overall Interest in Your Freelancing Services

Testing out interest might sound trivial, but you’d be surprised at the number of freelancers that don’t.  They fail because they neglected to measure the market’s interest in the services that they intend to provide. If you can provide specialized services such as application development, freelance writing or foreign language translation, your services will constantly be in high demand.

If your services are heavily reliant upon a particular niche, you may have a harder time finding clients.

Don’t let that discourage you; not all freelancing opportunities are the same. Carefully measure the appeal of your freelancing business to determine the overall demand and longevity of your enterprise.

Start Your Freelancing Business On The Side

Once you’ve found a freelancing business model that can provide you with enough income to live your life, it’s time to begin capitalizing on these opportunities. If you currently have a job, don’t turn in your two-week notice just yet. Use your day job as a way to keep your personal finances afloat while you begin cultivating relationships with businesses that would like to employ you as a freelancer.

Make it your primary goal to start locking your customers into annual contracts. When you have written agreements in place, you’ll feel more confident about making the switch from your day job.

As a general rule of thumb, build up at least six months’ worth of cash reserves to pay your bills in case something goes wrong. If you do not have six months’ worth of finances saved up, use your freelancing side hustle as a way to accelerate your savings plan.

Meticulously track your finances and continuously evaluate the success of your freelance business. If you get to a point where you have less than 90 days of cash reserves, you may need to reconsider the direction of your freelancing enterprise.

Build Your Own Freelancing Platform

If you wish to excel at freelancing and maximize your profits; it may be worth your time to begin building a freelancing platform for your new business. Here is a list of tools commonly used by full-time freelancers:

  • Basecamp – Freelancers use Basecamp as a way to keep their projects organized while simultaneously providing a platform for client feedback.
  • OneDrive – While some prefer Google Drive, OneDrive offers free web-based versions of popular Microsoft Office apps such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft OneNote.
  • FreshBooks – The FreshBooks platform could help simplify your billing and receivables. When tax time rolls around, simply provide FreshBooks access to your accountant and let them do the rest.
  • Stripe – Do you need to accept credit card payments? Stripe is one of the best payment gateways available to freelancers.

Build Up Your Full-Time Freelance Business Identity

Think about all the different ways that you can gain new clients. The first thing you should do is create a website that provides information about your services.

If you have a business name, try creating a domain name that references your business’s identity. If you do not, consider registering a domain name that is your full name. Since freelancing will be the main source of income, it’s never a bad idea to attach your name to your freelancing business.

Another idea is to invest in business cards with your contact info. When you tell people about what you do, it’s always a good idea to hand out your business card. VistaPrint and other vendors regularly promote free business card offers to help you get the word out about your new business.

Join All of the Popular Freelance Job Websites

Freelancers are blessed with a plethora of job websites that cater to their specific skill sets. Here are few websites that all aspiring full-time freelancers should know about:

  • Upwork – The largest freelance job website that has opportunities for every skill set imaginable.
  • Guru – Are you an application developer? Guru is the place to begin bidding on high paying development projects.
  • LiveOps – Jump start your freelance business as a work from home call center agent that represents reputable brands.
  • Freelancer – Like Upwork, Freelancer provides you with opportunities to connect with entrepreneurs who may require your services.

The Financial Advantages of Operating Your Freelance Business

Strongly consider the lifestyle you’ll be living when you become a full-time freelancer to determine where you can save money.

For example, if you will be primarily working from home, do you need that new car sitting out in the driveway? You could potentially save hundreds per month by ditching your car while using rideshare services and public transportation to get around your city.

When I first started working from home, we sold my truck and bought a $1,000 scooter for me to get around. – Scott

What about your cable package or cell phone plan?

The less you spend, the less you have to earn to make ends meet. Put less stress on yourself by living frugally until you have a way of budgeting your new freelance income.

Becoming a successful freelance professional requires a tremendous amount of discipline and self-control. Be sure to track all of your expenses and work with a tax professional to assess your liabilities. Pick your tax professional’s brain to get guidance on your specific situation.  Learn how you can reduce your taxes and increase profit.

For example, did you know that some freelancers could qualify for a “home office deduction” on their taxes? TurboTax recently published an article detailing the tax breaks for professionals that work from home.

Stop Making Excuses, Build a Plan and Execute!

If you’re ready to make the jump into full-time freelancing, it’s time for you to stop making excuses and build your escape plan now.

We call it an escape plan because many aspiring freelancers are looking to escape their current employer while replacing that income using their freelance revenues. Your plan should include:

Each week, set aside some time to evaluate your progress. Ask your clients what you could be doing better.  What services do they need in the future? The most valuable feedback that you’ll ever receive will come from the entities that are paying you. Be sure that you are always listening to your clients.  Then you can suggest services that can help them achieve their goals.

How would you like to earn more writing or discover the right way to get started freelancing? Check out Earn More Writingthe online course for online freelancers.

Here are more freelancing-related posts you should take a look at:

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