How to Make the Transition From Full-time Employee to Freelancer

by Laura Cole June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016

While it may be convenient to see the spectre of Brexit as a purely British dilemma, it is one that will have a huge impact on labour and financial markets around the globe. On a deeper level, it also appears as the rejection of globalisation, which began when the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989 and drove the free movement of people and capital across unified markets.

This freedom of movement was one of the key reasons behind the rise of the freelancer, which has changed the face of Western job markets across the globe. An estimated 40% of U.S workers are expected to be freelancers by 2020, for example, with companies increasingly keen on creating flexible workforces that draw from a global talent pool.

Making the Transition from Full-time employee to Freelancer: How to succeed in the current market

So while the vote for Brexit may represent one nation’s growing distrust of globalisation (and restrict the freedom of movement between the UK and the EU), we can expect to see the number of freelancers across the rest of the Western world increase consistently over the course of the next decade.

For these individuals, the main challenge remains making a successful transition between full-time work and operating as a freelancer. This is a process that must be managed carefully, while it also demands insight, determination and a tremendous work-ethic as an individual.

Aside from this, how else can you make a successful transition between full-time work and freelancing in the current market? Here are some ideas: –

Making Planning your Watchword

Unless you are legally bound by a full-time contract that prohibits you from undertaking any type of freelance work, it is wise to adopt a proactive approach and begin your journey whilst employed in a 9-5 job. This can alleviate much of the financial pressure associated with starting out as a freelancer, particularly in an increasingly strained global economy.

This also affords you time to plan your freelance career in careful detail, as you determine the viability of your goals and consider the most effective executions. In terms of the former, you should establish the ideal annual income that you hope to earn through freelancing, taking into account the loss of full-time job security and other benefits such as employer pension contributions.

By then projecting earnings growth over time, you can assess whether freelancing is a worthwhile pursuit and establish a time-frame for leaving your full-time job.

When it comes to executing your plans, you will need to embrace the mind-set of an entrepreneur. More specifically, it is crucial that you clearly define the service that you will offer to clients, while also establishing a target market and the rates that you will charge. Pricing is particularly important when you are first looking to carve a niche in your chosen market, so it may be better to create a simple model that is driven by a single, hourly rate.

So long as you consider these elements carefully and plan in intricate detail, you can move forward confidently and work within realistic timeframes.

Organize a workspace and Working Schedule

Initially, you may only be able to commit a few hours each day and over the weekend to establishing your freelance venture. Despite this, it is crucial that you operate in a professional and organised manner from the outset, as this will help you to scale your efforts when you eventually begin to freelance full-time.

The first step that is central to this is the creation of a viable workspace. There are numerous options available, whether you set-up an office at home or work in communal space such as coffee shops and libraries (or even combine the two). Ultimately, you will need to select an option that suits you, although being able to create an organised and secluded office within the home negates travel costs.

For those with a busy home life where distractions are plentiful, however, you may be better served targeting more studious, communal workspaces such public libraries (which are free to access and ideal for those looking to concentrate).

The cultivation of a working schedule is also important, as this dictates your work-life balance and creates fixed time-frames in which to complete specific tasks. Your working hours should also be included as part of an overall, daily schedule, including regular breaks from the screen and physical exercise. The Pomodoro Technique is a particularly popular method of breaking work down into intervals, encouraging you to work in intense chunks of 25 minutes before enjoying five minutes of down time.

This can help you to optimise your time from the outset, while similar techniques can also be used as your scale your efforts.

Use your Existing Industry Contracts and Build an Initial Client Base

In most cases, freelancers will market a viable skill that they have developed over time. In these instances, it is fair to surmise that they also also built a solid foundation of industry contacts during this period, offering them access to potential clients and engaged business-owners.

If you have a more introverted outlook and have not developed strong industry contacts, this should be a key aspect of the transitional process. This enables you to build relationships and directly market your freelance services to interested parties, as you gauge market demand and hopefully earn your first contracts. Such a process also allows you to adapt to market trends and amend the details of your pricing or service as required.

Regardless of how many contacts you have when transitioning between full-time work and freelancing, however, it is crucial that you leave nothing to chance and continue to build your network progressively.

In terms of best practice, LinkedIn remains your most potent networking tool as a professional. The key to optimising this platform is to understand its core nature, as LinkedIn requires you to draw contacts in with your credentials and profile rather than actively pursuing targets and aggressively marketing yourself. So long as you use this platform to clearly define your proposition as a freelancer and write in an active tense, you should be able to access opportunities as they arise.

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