Are you ready to start freelancing full-time?
There’s no magic formula for freelancing readiness. The point at which each person feels ready is different, and will depend on their lifestyle, goals, discipline, and target market, as well as a myriad of other factors.
There are, however, indicators that can suggest you might be in a good position to strike out and do your own thing. These five factors were the signs that told me I was ready to try freelancing full time.
1. You have more work than you can handle … and you’re thrilled about it.
We all have busy periods. But if you’re staring down the barrel of an ongoing busy period that will see you working so hard that you’re thinking of outsourcing some work, taking leave from your day job, or somehow injecting another eight hours into every day — and these thoughts inspire and excite you — then you might be in a good position to start freelancing full time.
The question you’ll want to answer, though, is how long this busy period will last. Landing a big job won’t necessarily justify leaving your paid job, but if you have more work on the not-too-distant horizon, and feel confident it’ll eventuate, full-time freelancing might look more like a viable option and less like a pipe dream.
2. You can’t see how you can achieve your life and/or career goals while in salaried employment.
Some people simply itch to run their own businesses. Others long passionately for the freedom to work the hours they choose in an environment they choose. Some daredevils feel a burning desire to buck the trend and break with the usual working conventions.
If you’re one of these people — if you do not believe that salaried employment will allow you to fulfill your dreams or, alternatively, you believe it will actively prevent you from achieving those objectives — you may be ready to look seriously at alternatives like going it alone.
3. When you think of freelancing full time, you feel secure.
Security is a relative concept, and its definition varies from person to person. Some see security as a roof over their heads and a buffer in the bank; others believe it’s about family and friends; still others see it as self-belief or education or talent.
Obviously, making a big life or career change is likely to put you on your mettle. Just thinking about it might send adrenaline through your system and set your mind racing. But is that excitement the product of dread or enthusiasm? As you launch yourself into full-time freelancing, you may well feel nervous about getting enough work, paying the bills, and keeping your clients happy. All of us face those kinds of questions.
The things you don’t want to have to worry about are imminent financial issues, relationship problems, health worries, and so on. These kinds of issues are the things that can, ultimately, cause you to throw in the towel when the freelancing fight is barely begun. If you feel secure in yourself and your life in a broader sense, you’ll be more likely to be able to cope with the stresses and concerns you’ll undoubtedly feel as you find your feet as a full-time freelancer.
4. You’ve talked it over with the people who matter.
The people who matter aren’t just your loved ones, or those who will bear the brunt of any impacts that your career change has on your broader life — though of course you’ll be talking your plans over with them! But perhaps you’ll also want to talk to your clients, peers, and freelancing friends. Perhaps you’ll also decide to discuss your plans with your bank manager, financial planner or accountant.
The people who matter include anyone whose opinion or advice is valuable to you. While I’m not saying that you should only go out on your own if others give you ‘permission’, trusted advisors can give you insights, suggestions, and help that can make the transition smoother and more successful than if you make the decision in a vacuum. If you’ve talked to the people who matter, and their advice has cemented your belief that you can succeed as a full-time freelancer, you may be in a good position to get started.
5. You feel ready.
No one has reliable secrets for freelance success. No one can say whether you’ll truly enjoy full-time freelancing — enough to stick at it through the tough times and make a success of your adventures. No one knows what’s in store for your future, and whether freelancing will remain compatible with the turns your life takes.
But if you feel wholly ready to try full-time freelancing, it won’t matter: you’ll want to give it your best shot. Whether your freelance career lasts five weeks or fifty years, you’ll know that you gave it everything you could, without hesitation, doubt, or half-heartedness. And while I can’t guarantee you won’t have any regrets, I’m pretty sure that, whatever happens, you’ll know you embarked on full-time freelancing wholeheartedly, for the right reasons.
These were the key signs that told me I was ready to try freelancing full time. What other indicators would you look for?