Dissatisfied with your current career path? Why not go freelance?
It’s easier said than done these days. Nontraditional careers are on the rise, and more and more individuals make a living through freelancing, consulting, or microjobs, all of which are doable from the comfort of one’s own home.
But before you pack up your desk and storm out in a huff, heading off for bigger and better things, there are a few ways to prepare for embarking on your own unique career experience.
First of all, you will need to ensure that you are financially stable before starting the transition. Even with a solid plan, the first few months of starting in freelance circles will likely be difficult. Three month’s worth of savings is recommended, but more could be set aside depending on your uncertainty with finding gigs after ending your full time job.
Next, appraise the skills you have and the industry you’d like to work in. What do you hope to accomplish by starting a freelance career? You’ll want to do something that your know always brings you joy, something that you can do for hours without exhaustion. Beyond that, you’ll want to focus on the skills you know you can leverage. Study the market and find other businesses with similar offerings. What do they do well that you can emulate in your efforts? Conversely, what don’t they do that you can provide yourself? Entrepreneurs have a tremendous amount of flexibility in their businesses, and this allows you to be agile and position yourself to fill a need that a larger company might not be able to address. It’s a risky approach, but one that can be incredibly successful if there is a market for the niche that you are attempting to fill.
You should also spend some time to update your web presence. Examine all of your social media feeds closely and eliminate anything that paints you in an unfavorable light. Additionally, take the time to use the web to connect to others in your position, in your area or otherwise. Networking is important—it’s one of the central tactics for having a successful career, and it’s more important than ever for freelancers. Finding other freelancers in similar positions can make the transition much less scary. Listen to individuals you meet rather than extolling your own achievements, and think about the value you can provide them. If you are helpful and generous with those you meet, you will gain a strong reputation and others will repay you in kind.
This is, not coincidentally, one of the central tenets of successful entrepreneurship. Consider the value you offer your audience and, just as importantly, who your audience is. Existing industry research is easily accessible online, but the best kind of research is often the kind you conduct yourself. Consider building a set of personas to aid your search for the ideal audience. A persona is a profile of a potential audience member, complete with all basic demographics along with a short biography about their lifestyle, dreams, and habits. When thinking about the products and services you offer, consider the desires of the personas you have built.
While there are a million different things that go into freelancing and being your own boss (Exercise! Practice good scheduling! Don’t forget to eat!), the most important, and the one that separates successful and unsuccessful freelancers, is conviction. Recognize that your vision of success is attainable, and that your hard work has the very real potential to pay off in the future. You may be faced with failure when setting out to freelance or start your own company, and your determination is what will allow you to bounce back and not give up at the first setback or inconvenience.
Remember, the ideal job for you exists out there somewhere. Even if you have to make it yourself, the flexibility and variety of modern job options allow entrepreneurs of all kinds to stake a claim doing something they love.