You can go from freelance to full time if you have a plan. Better yet, you can achieve that goal in 99 days or less. Here’s how:
Day 1 through Day 3 – Figure Out How Much Money You Need To Make.
In order to make the leap to full-time freelancer, you need to know how much you absolutely have to make in order to support yourself. If you launch your business without having this information you run the real risk of pulling the plug on your current employment too soon. And if you make that mistake, you will run across the same coral-reef that wrecks 90% of all businesses in their first 6 months – not having enough cash flow.
The best way to know your cost of living is to start tracking it right now. I recommend that you use YNAB (You Need a Budget). I have been using this software to track my spending for several years and I just love it. But you can use any software you like – including Excel – as long as you do track your outflows.
Review your spending for the last several months (at least). Then you’ll know how much you have to make with your freelance business each month in order to go full time. You’ll also be able to make the decision (if you so choose) to cut your spending in order to make your full-time freelance dream come true that much sooner.
Day 4 through Day 8 – Is It Reasonable?
Next, figure out if your freelance business has enough potential to become a full time gig. Let’s say you want to become a full time freelance writer and that you spend, on average, $4500 a month. Assume that you get paid $100 per article. Can you write 45 articles per month? If not, can you earn more money per article? If not, you’ll find it really hard to develop this part-time gig into a full time career. It may be time to find a different occupation.
But if you can see the potential for your business, it’s time to move ahead. This is exciting!
Day – 9 through Day 15 – Plan Out What Has To Happen.
Make a list of everything that has to happen in order to realize your dream. That list might include:
a. Getting an office.
b. Finding start-up capital to get the equipment you need.
c. Hiring staff.
d. Finding more customers/clients.
e. Putting a small business bookkeeping system in place.
Each of these topics is a post (or series of posts) unto themselves and I’ve already written about many of these. Break each goal down into actionable tasks and go for it. The good news is you can probably put most of these items in place in very little time and you can work on many of them at the same time.
Day 16 through Day 80 – Grow Your Income
Let’s assume your big obstacle is finding more demand for the services you provide. There are several easy and inexpensive (or free) ways to market your freelance business.
Start with websites like Craigslist, Fivvr, Elance and Guru.com. List your service on all these sites. Also, make sure to bid on existing jobs even if they are small. You never know what will develop.
I needed someone to design a business card for me ($65 job) 9 years ago and placed an ad through one of these sites. I found a person to do this job through the ad and she did a fantastic job. As a result I kept giving her more and more work. In fact, her role has expanded from graphics to client service administrator. At this point she’s working every week for me and I give her as many hours as she wants. This opportunity enabled her to toss her other job in favor of the freedom of having her own business.
You may not want to work for one client and you won’t have to if you work the websites I listed above (and provide really world-class service).
I found a software developer through a different site and he also delivered fantastic service and pricing. As a result, he has become an integral part of my team and I am his customer for life. Now, he turns most new business down and customers have to get on a waiting list to obtain his services – at $100 per hour.
The most important success ingredient here is to treat every client like your only one. If you agree to take on a new client, deliver 110% service and turn them into raving fans.
Day 81 – Resign
Assuming you took the steps detailed above, you could very well be at a point where your freelance business is generating enough income in order for you to quit your job and go full-time.
Notice that the big focus has to be on growing your business. Take advantage of all the avenues available to meet new clients and deliver service that far exceeds their expectations. This is the best thing you can do if you want to be a full-time freelancer in my experience.
What other steps are important for those people who want to be self-employed? If you are thinking about going this route, what is your greatest concern?