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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard mPeror's Avatar
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    Question The right time to start freelancing?

    I'm considering quitting my day job and start freelancing, because having to lower my standards and do what others want in web development is just killing me.

    I've saved up enough money that will help me survive for over a year without a job. Would it be wise to quit and start a business now? or shall I start working on it part-time every day until it makes a decent income then quit?

    I'm pretty excited about freelancing, and can see a lot of opportunities in my area, which makes me want to quit my job ASAP, but I thought I should seek advice first.


    Appreciate your input

  2. #2
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    Well at the moment it looks like many countries are going into recession which could turn into a global recession, so I would say that now is not the best time to quit your job.

    I would work on it part-time until you get enough reputation that clients start coming to you, rather than you having to market yourself.

  3. #3
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    I agree with 2day. Work at it part time until you have a good portfolio, have honed your marketing techniques to a fine edge, have some solid clients under your belt, and see RFP's in your inbox on a regular basis.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  4. #4
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    First of all, is freelancing right for you? It's not as secure as an average job in Web Design/Development and it's considerable work trying to get your feet off the ground. Plus, there will be hard times when the money isn't coming in like it should. Freelancing is hard, especially when it's your primary income. Perhaps just finding another gig elsewhere is the best idea for now.

    If you're sure that you want to go, then do it as soon as you possibly can, not without letting your employers know why you left in the first place. They might even surprise you and offer to fix your problems with a raise or rectifying the situation.

  5. #5
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    As the others have said, I'd work on it "on the side" until you have a steady portfolio, clients on monthly hosting and retainer (maintenance) contracts (for residual income), and people coming to you.

    Companies are starting to really tighten their budgets right now all over the world, so now would be a good time to get some clients paying you for maintenance and other services that you can sell repeatedly to keep the money coming in while you're working your day job.

    Save up as much money as you can, don't spend your yearly savings yet, and just let the day job pay the bills while you stash away as much as you can from freelancing for in case you do lose your job, your clients shut their doors, and you suddenly find yourself having to live off of your savings just to survive day-to-day.

  6. #6
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    You lot are so boring and sensible... Where's your sense of adventure!? Anyway who said having a full time job was secure!? Surely if companies are tightening their belts they might have to make redundancies!? How big is your company? Can they ride the wave or have to make cuts!?

    I also think that working on the web in a time of a recession might not be such a bad thing, after all our overheads are extremely low and anyone wanting to setup a business online (and needs a website) can do so for considerably less... People might shop online more as it saves petrol and time. People look for bargains more and shop online as a consequence...

    If you were asking if now was a good time to setup a high street shop then I'd say possibly not.

    On the other hand I'm not sure about this comment:
    "having to lower my standards and do what others want in web development is just killing me"

    Believe me, going freelance is no pic nic and you'll just have to abide by even more rules and 'bosses'. We started our own company a few months ago and it's going ok so far, although it is still very early days. I was lucky because my employer let me go part-time for a few months, so I could put my toes in the water and get a taste for it... I also have a partner who can support me if it all went/goes wrong.

    Consider your options carefully and go slow, but don't let too many worries hold you back either. Only you know your situation the best.

    "start working on it part-time every day until it makes a decent income then quit?"

    Could be an option - Don't burn bridges!

  7. #7
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Starting a business is the worst time to have a sense of adventure. You need every penny you can get, and you need to make sure you can keep as many of them as possible. Why else do you think that 80% of businesses fail shortly after starting up?

  8. #8
    Function Curry'er JimmyP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz View Post
    Why else do you think that 80% of businesses fail shortly after starting up?
    Did you know 90% of statistics are made up? ... LOL ... Just kidding Dan ... Don't punish me

    On a more serious note...

    mPeror, I agree with most of the other comments on this thread. I think you know as well as we do what the right decision is... You're probably just bubbling with anticipation which makes you want to quit right now.

    I would stick with it for a while longer. Your freelancing endeavor does not necessarily have to be a drain on your savings. If you quit your job now then you're straight down to ZERO level income... OTOH...If you do it 'on the side' and get a nice flow of work in then you won't have to worry about your income sinking too low. You can quit your job and still retain a fair level of income.

    I would take some time and establish yourself as a professional freelancer in your area. This post on freelanceSwitch has some great tips on starting up: "5 Steps to Making the Switch from Side Gig to Full Time Professional"
    James Padolsey
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  9. #9
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    the wise thing is that u start a part time freelance business, and keep it part time

    never quit ur job, even if doesnt pays u

    ur profession is not freelance
    Last edited by web67; Apr 15, 2008 at 20:12.
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  10. #10
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    Everyone has to "lower their standards" when doing this kind of work for someone else. I do graphic/web work for car dealerships. Yeah, those people at the car dealerships that sell you your cars, telling me how they want their website. Imagine that! A friend of mines who works at Avenue A Razorfish and he has his moments where he doesn't agree with other people but has to do it anyways. Just gotta take it for what it is, if it's not hard to do especially. I do my freelance off of work and I'm happy with that!

  11. #11
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by web67 View Post
    the wise thing is that u start a part time freelance business, and keep it part time

    never quit ur job, even if doesnt pays u

    ur profession is not freelance
    Unless you're a personal friend of mperor's you sure are making a big assumption. It appears that you are saying that freelance can't be a profession. Many self-employed people in every aspect of life and in every spot on the globe would certainly disagree.

    I work freelance and have done so for nine years. I wouldn't have it any other way.

    But, mperor... just so you know. There were times during these last nine years when I did wish I had a steady income and thought the only way to get it was from working for someone else. Several times, I took part-time jobs but that didn't work because they interfered with my ability to run my business in the way I wanted to run it.

    However, once you are established in freelance and have that steady flow of clients, there is no better life than freelance. Now I have money coming in nearly every single day. No living paycheck to paycheck.

    But here's the definitive point it takes lots of time (both in the short run and the long term) and a real commitment to the freelance career you choose.

    Working freelance, you won't be successful if you cut your 8 hour day to 7 hours or less. In fact, you'll probably find, at least in the beginning, that 10, 12, 14 or longer hour days seem neverending. An entire weekend off will seem like a week's vacation.

    You'll be your own boss, but you'll have a world full of bosses that want their projects done yesterday and put your work under a microscope when they get it.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  12. #12
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    well, i am a medical student, and work as a freelancer as a webdesigner, and i felt that my identity is medicine, not the freelance
    Last edited by web67; Apr 15, 2008 at 19:56.
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard angilina's Avatar
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    I suggest you start working at freelance sites plus try to find some other business too.

    For example, I do freelance work, plus I am running few websites. I am earning half my income from freelancing and other half from adsense.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard mPeror's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. I appreciate your input.

    It seems like I let the thought of being "free" (which means "work from home" for me) take over me. I guess I'll have to do the switch carefully after I actually start making some money.

  15. #15
    Galactic Overlord gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    Sounds like a sensible plan Mash. Good luck with it.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    mPeror, being freelance doesn't make you free, in fact, it can often make you a slave to your desk far more so than with an FTE role. That said, and judging from your other posts, it does appear you really are attracted to the freedom of setting your own hours, maintaining your schedule, etc... and it probably makes sense for you to pursue the opportunity at least to see how you like it.

    As others have said, freelancing is really one part working and two parts business operations; you're on the hook to prospect, pitch, manage, invoice, collect, file, measure and grow. There can be a lot of fun in these tasks but for some people, the thought of having to sell themselves, create and bill for invoicing, manage projects rather than just build them and become a client manager is scary or downright sickening. Thus dipping your toes in is a great idea -- recession or not. As a designer you also have an opportunity to continue to pick up experience and build crucial contacts now. The longer your resume reads FTE, the better you'll be able to go back if things don't work or you just don't like them (and keep in mind you want to have a good period of time in that first job, leaving quickly isn't a good thing, but I'm not sure how long you've been at your current gig so that may be a mute point).

    This isn't a matter of being adventurous versus conservative, it's about making the right decision. If you came here and said "i've got a killer business idea, 12 months of full living expenses saved but need to work full time to get it launched" I'd likely give you completely different advice. However, when your motivation is freedom and your method is freelancing but you've not done it before full time, getting a feel for the upsides and downsides makes a whole lot more sense to me. And frankly, if you pull together a few gigs, love it and see more work, there's nothing stopping you from making the move in the very near future.

    Good luck!
    - Ted S

  17. #17
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    mPeror, What is the worst that can happen? It doesn't work out and you go back to your old job. At least you gave it a go.

    I started freelancing part time. In fact, I did it part time for about 2 years. Didn't want to quit my good paying job. That would be just silly, so everyone kept telling me. It got to the point where my freelance business was getting so busy I offered it for sale here on Sitepoint because I was too scared to quit my job.

    Then a client offered me $20,000 over 6 months to develop several large sites. That was the one that pushed me off the fence into full time freelancing and it is the best thing I've ever done.

    That was over a year ago and I'm now turning jobs down due to my work load and life couldn't be better.

    People who advise you to play it safe do so because they don't have entrepreneurial spirit. Of course they are going to tell you to stick to your job. It makes perfect sense... to them.

    But you are not them. Don't listen to them, listen to what's in you.
    John Pitchers
    Viperfish Media

  18. #18
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    Couldn't agree more with the poster above. That's totally what happened to me and so far I'm really loving it, best thing I've done. But you have to make sure it's right for you.

  19. #19
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by viperfish View Post
    mPeror, What is the worst that can happen? It doesn't work out and you go back to your old job. At least you gave it a go.

    I started freelancing part time. In fact, I did it part time for about 2 years. Didn't want to quit my good paying job. That would be just silly, so everyone kept telling me. It got to the point where my freelance business was getting so busy I offered it for sale here on Sitepoint because I was too scared to quit my job.

    Then a client offered me $20,000 over 6 months to develop several large sites. That was the one that pushed me off the fence into full time freelancing and it is the best thing I've ever done.

    That was over a year ago and I'm now turning jobs down due to my work load and life couldn't be better.

    People who advise you to play it safe do so because they don't have entrepreneurial spirit. Of course they are going to tell you to stick to your job. It makes perfect sense... to them.

    But you are not them. Don't listen to them, listen to what's in you.
    Ah... what if his old job won't have him back if it doesn't work out?
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  20. #20
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    That is such a negative attitude to live life by... Then he gets another job.

  21. #21
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by larkin View Post
    That is such a negative attitude to live life by... Then he gets another job.
    No... not negative. Practical. I'm not saying he shouldn't freelance. I'm saying that if he does, he shouldn't burn his bridges. The economy right now is in a global slump or haven't you heard? Competition is hot for even poor jobs. (Maybe not in mpereor's location, but certainly in much of the world).

    In viperfish's post (the one you agreed with) he admitted he didn't quit his job until he was established (busy).

    Starting out in freelance isn't easy. I know. I've been in this business for near nine years and it's just in the last few I have made a viable contribution to my family income. You have to be committed to investing time and money in your business to make it work.

    Keeping or taking a job you don't necessarily like may well be a part of that investment. Playing the workplace game, biting your lip, and keeping your nose to the grindstone are all experiences that will help you when you have to deal with a number of bosses (your clients), each with their own different expectations and personalities.

    Before you can succeed you need a solid portfolio of sold work and a healthy base of happy, satisfied clients. When you're stressed out over income, it's very difficult to stay upbeat and creative; to be the self-starter that freelance clients expect.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown


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