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The thought of working from home is a dream for many people. How amazing would it be to set your own schedule, do work that you enjoy, spend more time with your family and pets, and not have to take orders from anyone?
It’s important to be aware of the reality of freelancing and working from home though. It’s not something you should jump into without first preparing for it.
If you’re dreaming of the freelance life, read on to learn what steps you need to take before quitting your job and becoming a freelancer.
1—Decide what you want to do
The first step is deciding what service you’re going to provide. If you’re not sure what you would like to do, then brainstorm some ideas. Ask yourself the following questions:
What are your existing skills? Is there something that you’re really good at that people compliment you on?
Could you do the tasks you do for your day job? In my former day job in the financial services industry, I was responsible for proofreading my division’s contribution to a quarterly report that was published on the company’s website. This was the highlight of my job and something I looked forward to every quarter. So it was a no-brainer when it came to deciding what I wanted to do when I started freelancing. Other transferable tasks from your day job that you could do include writing, social media management, accounting, project management, etc.
Could you turn your creative hobby into a business? Are you a really good photographer? Do you like making jewelry? If so, maybe you could set up a shop on Etsy, start a wedding or portrait photography business, or sell at markets.
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2—Evaluate your finances
Taking the leap into freelancing full time is SCARY because you don’t have a regular paycheck to rely on anymore.
Of course, the potential is there to earn even more than you did at your “real” job! But it will take a while to build up.
Before you take the leap into full-time freelancing, you need to have some savings built up to tide you over until you start to earn enough money.
I recommend saving up a year’s living expenses. Six months goes by so quickly. You’ll barely be getting started after six months. A year’s savings will give you breathing space to work on your business without panicking that money is going to run out.
To figure out how much money you will need to get you through the year, track your expenses for a couple of months and see what you’re spending your money on.
Some expenses can be reduced or eliminated as they’ll no longer be relevant once you start to work from home. You won’t need to use public transport as much. You can eat breakfast and lunch at home. Invest in a coffee machine and start making coffee at home. Although, working from a coffee shop every now and then will be good to get you out of the house.
Related Content: How to survive on an irregular income as a new freelancer
You don’t need to buy work clothes anymore. Hello, pajamas! Only joking. I think it’s better for your productivity if you get dressed properly every day so that you’ll be in work mode. I do wear my slippers when I’m working though. They’re so comfy!
You should really freelance on the side of your day job for a while before you quit your job. This will allow you to build up contacts, testimonials, and clients and ensure that you’re bringing in income right from the first month after you quit your job.
I did not do this. My circumstances were a bit different. I moved from Ireland to Canada in early 2017. I knew I didn’t want to get another office job when I moved, so I decided to use my existing skills and set up a proofreading business. Because I didn’t have a full-time job it meant I was living off my savings before I started making money. This wasn’t an issue as I had saved for a couple of years to fund my move to Canada. However, I would recommend that you overlap the two jobs for a while before you quit your day job.
Related content: The Ultimate Guide to Setting Up a Freelance Proofreading Business
3—Write a business plan
You need to make sure that your business is a viable one. Asking yourself a number of questions will make sure that you’re prepared.
- What are your goals?
- Who are your ideal clients?
- How will you attract them?
- What services will you offer?
- How much money do you need to earn?
- What will you charge?
- Do you need further training before you start your business?
- Are there any professional organizations you should join/conferences you should attend?
Download my free Business Goal Setting Workbook to help you set and track your business goals!
4—Create your brand/Start advertising
Before you quit your job, you need to start creating your brand and advertising your services. Having a website to advertise your services is hugely important. You may get some work through word of mouth or through networking locally, but if you want to attract international clients, you will need a website. They need a way to find you. You aren’t awake 24/7, but your website is!
Don’t let the fact that you’re not a technically minded person stop you from setting up a website. It’s possible to set up a simple website without too much difficulty. I wrote a step by step guide to setting up a website based on my own experience (it includes screenshots!). In that post, I talk about choosing a hosting package, purchasing a WordPress theme, and which plugins you might need.
You’ll need to choose a name for your business as well as a domain name. This is something you should invest a little bit of time into as it’s a huge part of your branding.
Unfortunately, there’s no getting away from it. You will need to set up social media accounts. Social media will be the most important part of your marketing plan. You need to get people to your website so that you can convince them that they need your product or service. But if you don’t promote your website, it’s unlikely that anyone will ever find it.
Social Media will be the biggest driver of traffic to your website, provided you actively engage with people on these platforms. Don’t just post and run. Ask questions or comment on other peoples’ posts.
PRO TIP: Don’t try to promote on every single platform at the same time. Pick one or two and really focus on growing them. That being said, it would be wise to register accounts with your business name on the other social media platforms even if you’re not going to use them. You don’t want to come back in six months time and find that someone else has taken the name. If you’re not ready to actively use the platform you can use apps to schedule your posts or else put a note in your bio to let people know what platform they can find you on.
You should tell the world and her mother that you have a freelance business. You never know who you’re going to talk to that might need your services or be able to refer potential clients to you. Don’t be afraid to let people know that you’re available to help them out.
Take the time to write an elevator pitch. This is a short one-minute pitch that describes what you do and how you help people solve their problems. It should be short and straight to the point in order to hold people’s attention.
Mine is still a work in progress, but it goes something like this:
Hi, I’m Catherine. I’m a freelance proofreader and copyeditor. I work with self-publishing authors, bloggers, and brand consultants to make sure that their content is clear, consistent, and free from distracting errors.
There is an endless list of places you can network. You can join Meetup, visit your local library to see what talks they’re holding, join a professional society, or join your local chamber of commerce. You can also network online through Facebook groups.
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6—Take the leap
Now it’s time to take the leap and quit your job! Don’t let fear hold you back. If you’ve followed the steps above, you’ve laid the groundwork for running a successful freelance business.
If you’re not quite ready to take the leap, then check out my post on how to balance a side hustle with your 9-5!
Who’s ready to start their freelance business? Comment down below and let me know what you do.
Not sure what kind of small business you want to start? Here are some ideas to get you started!
FREE Ultimate Guide to Starting a Freelance Proofreading Business
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