9 Tips for a painless transition from day-job to full-time freelancing

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Everyday, more and more people decide to leave their 9-5 job for an amazing life of freelancing.

According to a new survey, 34% of the total U.S. workforce is made up of freelancers; that’s 53 million people!

That means if you’re considering freelancing, you need to do everything you possibly can to get ahead from the start, and transitioning from a full-time 9-5 job to a full-time freelancing job is a great way to do that.

Freelance veterans! What made your transition a success? Share with us in the comments!

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

Why you should transition (not switch)

It can be a risky situation to immediately quit your job on a whim so that you may begin freelancing.

  • What happens if you don’t get enough clients?
  • What will you do if things seem steady and then you hit a wall?
  • What would you do if you realized that freelancing isn’t for you?

That’s why transitioning into freelancing has many advantages.

Throughout the transition, there are several steps that you can take that will help you create a successful freelance business.

Before the transition…

Prepare

One of the best things that aspiring freelancers can do to ensure the success of their business is prepare.

Preparation will not only better educate you about properly running a freelance business, but it will also help you overcome any unexpected obstacles.

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If you take the time to prepare for your freelance business, you’re chances of success will shoot up dramatically.

Have a few things set in place, like what to include in a contract, a marketing plan, and how to manage your projects. Then you’ll be ahead of the game and well on your way to freelancing success.

Below are a few great articles that will help you prepare for the freelancing world:

Learn from others

You should always be learning from the world around you.

Whether it’s a friend, classmate, family-member, or co-worker, everyone has some bit of knowledge or even an opinion that you could benefit from.

For example: My father has his own construction business. When I started my freelance business, I went to him for insight. Even though we are in two unrelated fields, I was able to benefit from his knowledge of running a business.

Just because someone might not have the same field of study or interests as you doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something from them.

Never stop learning.

Check out these posts on getting great advice:

Set up your business

There are a lot of different factors that all help make up your business and trying to tackle them all at once can be daunting, to say the least.

That’s why it’s important to start by focusing on the big tasks one at a time.

One big task that is a great (and fun) starting point is naming your business. Read more here to find the perfect name:

Another big task you need to knock out is setting up your business structure. Most beginning freelancers register their business as either a Sole Proprietor or an LLC. Setting up as a Sole Proprietor is fairly cheap, but an LLC provides more legal protection.

Below are two fantastic articles to help you fully understand the differences:

Pro Tip! You should always have a separate bank account and credit cards set up for you business. Doing so will save you a lot of time and frustration when it comes time to file your taxes.

When setting up your business, it’s also important that you try to save as much money as possible. Check out this article for some fantastic tips on how to save money from the get-go.

Make the jump

While preparation is good and necessary to start a successful business, it’s important that you don’t get too caught up in preparing.

You’ll never be 100% ready; at some point, you’ll need to take a risk and go for it.

During the transition…

Focus on quality, not quantity

When you’re just starting out freelancing, the quality of your work is worth way more than the quantity of work that you do.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that at this point, you are shaping your reputation as a freelancer. You want to make sure that you are taking the best care of your client(s) that you possibly can.

  • Always have your projects completed on time.
  • Under-promise, over-deliver.
  • Respond to emails/ calls/ messages in a timely fashion.
  • Go above and beyond for your client, every time.
  • Be honest.

Check out these posts on how to build a strong reputation:

Find the right balance

Working from home presents an entirely new set of challenges.

No longer do you have a boss looking over your shoulder or have the walls of an office to stop you from watching a little Netflix.

On top of all the distractions, there is actually a danger of working too much. You don’t have set hours anymore and won’t have a boss yelling at your for overtime they don’t want you to get.

By transitioning into freelancing, you’ll allow yourself to better assess the situation of working at home and make the necessary adjustment to ensure maximum productivity.

Here are a couple of really helpful articles that will help you more efficiently work from home.

Manage your finances

Just because you may not be freelancing full-time doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep detailed records of your finances.

You should be tracking every single expense and every bit of income you receive. The better you do at tracking your finances now, the more it’ll pay off in the long run.

After the transition

Continue to increase your skills

Just because you will be busy managing multiple clients, sending out invoices, writing contracts, and marketing your business doesn’t mean you should stop learning!

If you fail to grow your skill set, you run the risk of becoming obsolete.

Seek better clients

Even if you don’t feel you can take on any more clients, don’t stop looking.

You might find a new client that will pay you more or provide better projects for you to work on. If that’s the case, you’ll need to fire another freelance client to make room for the new one.

When firing a client, it’s absolutely essential that you do it the right way. Below are a couple of fantastic articles that will show you when and how to fire a freelance client.

Don’t be afraid to take smart risks

You took a risk in starting a business from nothing, building it from the ground up.

In the world of business, you can’t be afraid to take a well-calculated risk.

Yes, it will be scary.

Yes, you’ll be unsure of what will happen.

However, if you don’t take a risk now and then, you’ll never grow as a business or as a freelancer.

Remember, you did it! In no time, you’ll have survived your first year of freelancing.

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About Alex Solomon

Alex manages Millo’s most recent side-project, The Freelance Report–where he manually sorts through all things “freelancing” on the web and includes only the best resources for freelancers in an email newsletter every Monday morning. Learn more here.

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  1. Like you said, it’s important to be prepared for the transition. Changing your work style in a short period of time can be quite a shock.