Are You Really Ready to Go Full-Time as a Freelancer?

Want full control over your work schedule? Tired of your micromanaging boss? If so, you’ve likely considered quitting your job to become a freelancer – someone who’s self-employed and works for different clients, often on a project basis.

You like the idea of having full control over:

  • your working hours
  • the projects and clients you accept
  • what you wear
  • when and how you get paid
  • whether you’d like a part-time or full-time arrangement

Plus, there’s no shortage of work. Lots of businesses need freelancers with one of these skills: graphic design, writing, software development, videography, administration, customer service, or more.

Tempted to start hustling from home on a full-time basis?

Before you quit your day job, here’s what you need to know. If you can’t accept the following trade-offs (and change your mindset), being a full-time freelancer might not be for you.

1. You won’t get clients overnight

1. You won’t get clients overnight

Work won't come banging on your door as soon as you declare yourself open for business. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t find work in the first few weeks (or even months). You’re new and have to establish trust with potential clients.

But, don’t worry. You’ll get there soon, but not right away.

2. You still need structure and a schedule

2. You still need structure and a schedule

As your own boss, you are responsible for keeping up with deadlines and client demands.

Even if you’re free to choose your work hours, you have to set up a schedule to remain productive. Knowing that things to be done at a specific time of the day will make your workflow smoother and help you meet deadlines. Otherwise, you’d end up procrastinating.

What do experienced freelancers do?

Prioritize – Set internal deadlines and the level of importance for each project. This helps you easily identify the ones that should be prioritized.

Be transparent about your schedule – Keep open communication. Tell clients ahead that the deadline can’t be met and set realistic expectations. Doing so establishes trust between them and you.

Don’t be afraid to say “no” – You are running a business as a freelancer. You’re not an employee. So feel free to say “no” to projects and unrealistic expectation. If you’re afraid to lose a project, try saying “maybe” with conditions. Leave room for opportunity in case you finish something early and get more time to work on the one offered to you.

Outsource work or help – Never hesitate to ask for help if there are tasks you can’t handle by yourself. Consider it as an opportunity to learn something new from those who already have experience and further knowledge. Teaming up also widens your connections and partnerships.

3. You’ll have to do your own marketing to find clients

3. You’ll have to do your own marketing to find clients

You’re your own boss as a freelancer. Not only do you have to do the actual client work, but you’ll also have to actively find clients.

What do experienced freelancers do?

It takes time for potential clients to trust a newbie freelancer – especially when you have nothing to show for.

So, create an online portfolio website to showcase your best work. Then, get recommendations from people who’ve worked with you via LinkedIn. Display those recommendations on your website.

Tip: Use Sitebeat to build a portfolio website.

After those basics, attend networking events, do cold emailing, be active on LinkedIn and niche Facebook Groups, and more.

4. You’re in charge of finances and admin matters

4. You’re in charge of finances and admin matters

And that means having to track income and expenses, and handle all administrative matters. Taking care of all aspects of your business becomes your responsibility. If things flop, that’s on your shoulders.

Yes, it doesn’t sound like it comes from the carefree place where freelancers live in, but it’s true. Independence sounds great until you find yourself handling tasks that are unfamiliar to you.

What do experienced freelancers do?

Many freelancers outsource accounting and admin matters to a virtual assistant and accountant. Others simply use apps and spreadsheets to save time on these matters.

5. You’re a business owner – not an employee!

5. You’re a business owner – not an employee!

Newbie freelancers find it hard to switch from the employer-employee mindset to that of a business owner. They end up accepting nasty clients with unrealistic project deadlines and workloads.

What do experienced freelancers do?

Remember! you want to quit your job to be in control. Assert yourself as an equal partner to your client and set expectations with them. You’re a boss, not your client’s employee. Negotiate terms for mutual benefit.

6. You’re running a business – not a hobby

6. You’re running a business – not a hobby

To emphasise, you need to make money from your freelance career as soon as possible. You have bills to pay and food to put on the table.

What do experienced freelancers do?

Think like a business owner who needs profits and be resourceful in reaching your income goals.

7. It gets lonely at times

7. It gets lonely at times

There will be times when you’d miss having co-workers to talk to. Feeling isolated may distract you from doing work, trigger mood swings, and hinder creativity. You’ll encounter this issue and learn how to address it.

“I’m a freelance writer, and I work alone at a big desk in the living room of my apartment. There are many days when I don’t utter a single word to anyone but my husband.”

Robin Marantz Henig

Freelance science writer and contributor for New York Times Magazine

What do experienced freelancers do?

Get out and meet people. The conversations you have may spark creativity.

Consider working at a co-working space for freelancers and entrepreneurs. And attend Facebook events where you can meet like-minded people.

This way, you get the drive to finish what you’re working on and meet people who can benefit your freelancing business.

8. You can’t get over your loved ones’ perception of freelancing

8. You can’t get over your loved ones’ perception of freelancing

There’s a stigma that freelancing isn’t a real stable job, and some of your loved ones likely think you’re on the wrong path. If you let this affect you, you won’t make it work.

And, by the way, here’s the reality of freelancing – it’s not going away anytime soon.

What do experienced freelancers know?

"Sometimes there are solopreneurs that build everything they need using freelancers and they run the business on their own. Even large businesses are using freelancers as part of their contingent workforce."

Nikolas Badminton

Author, researcher, and keynote speaker for Futurist

Although most freelance clients are start-ups or smaller businesses— big companies are now eyeing them too. This trend has broken the stigma that if you’re in the world of freelancing, you will never get a ‘steady’ job. In fact, some projects now last from six months to a year.

Takeaway: Freelancing may be stressful, but it’s rewarding

“The only really committed artist is he who, without refusing to take part in the combat, at least refuses to join the regular armies and remains a freelance.”

Albert Camus French philosopher, author, and journalist

Knowing that you’ve got everything nailed down, starting from looking for clients to finally finishing the project and getting the pay for it, is truly a fulfilling feeling.

Plus, the freedom of choosing when and how you operate comes second to none. Through hard work and discipline, you’ll truly go a long way in the world of freelancing.

If you’re ready to jump into freelancing full-time, read this to begin. Beat the ordinary!

Skip to section

1. You won’t get clients overnight
2. You still need structure and a schedule
3. You’ll have to do your own marketing to find clients
4. You’re in charge of finances and admin matters
5. You’re a business owner – not an employee!
6. You’re running a business – not a hobby
7. It gets lonely at times
8. You can’t get over your loved ones’ perception of freelancing