7 Tips For Starting A Successful Freelancing Career

Do you find yourself in your office cubicle, dreaming of a day when you can quit your day job and freelance full-time? While taking that leap can be exhilarating, it’s also a pretty big change to navigate. Here are 7 tips from Skillshare members who’ve made the transition to freelancing full-time. While they’ve never looked back, they definitely have some advice you don’t want to miss.

1. Plan Ahead

“As a freelancer, you have to kind of realize that you won’t just be a designer, you have to be the accountant, the secretary, the project manager, which can be quite the learning curve”, says freelance graphic designer Faye Brown. Be sure to brush up on your business chops before making the move to full-time. Another important to-do before giving your 2 weeks? Line up some clients before quitting your job so you can start doing work —  and paying the bills — right away.

2. Budget Wisely

As a newly self-employed person, it can be important to not have all your eggs in one basket. There might be weeks or months where work comes in slower, so it’s important to think at least 2-3 months ahead in regards to money coming in and going out. Additional and passive income streams can be a crucial lifeboat for keeping your freelance career afloat. For art directorAndrea Campos, “teaching really balances out how much money i make per month when I have less client work.” Check out this list of additional income streams for creatives.

3. Build Your Brand

Without a company behind you, you become the brand. It’s important to dedicate time to marketing yourself. Start with a nice website and build up a content strategy. Maybe it’s writing on Medium, tweeting out articles, teaching on Skillshare or speaking at events. Become an authority in your community and people will reach out to work with you.

4. Know Your Worth

While the landscape can feel really competitive at times, be sure not to undervalue your time. Setting your price too low can often attract the wrong type of client. One way to guarantee your time is being valued? “Make sure you have a contract,” motion graphics artist Jake Bartlettrecommends. “Don’t allow clients to even have the option to take advantage of you by protecting yourself with a contract that states exactly how much work you’ll do. They’re paying for your time, and you have to decide how much your time is worth.”

5. Join Communities

Working alone all day can get, well, a little lonely. One way to stay social as a new solopreneur is to join new communities from local meetups to online communities like Skillshare. Not only can groups like these be a great way to get the feedback and advice you might be lacking out of an office environment, they can also lead to client referrals. Faye recalls, “I was approached to do a few projects I knew we’re right for me, I’d recommend friends be better suited for that role, and they’d do the same for me.”

6. Find Your Space

Now that you aren’t working in an office everyday, finding a calm and separate workplace is crucial to the success of your new career (and your sanity). For Illustrator Tom Froese, this was his biggest challenge when starting his freelance career. “At first, I was working at home in our mud room. It was tiny and my 1.5 year old daughter was constantly discovering me. Not great for  trying to concentrate or sustain a professional phone conversation.” Investing in your own studio or even renting a desk in a coworking space can pay off tenfold in productivity.

7. Stay Consistent

Juggling one-off jobs can be a great way to get your toes wet with client work, but having to constantly drum up new clients can be a huge time suck. Freelance photographer Phil Ebiner’s advice? “Try to work with companies and clients that have their own consistent work and bigger budgets. I started out freelancing by taking on as many little jobs as possible, but once I hooked up with actual companies that have consistent work, my freelancing took off. I get the benefit of consistency that a big company has, but also the benefit of being your own boss because I can always say no to a job.”