Are you considering a career change but need help figuring out where to start? If so, you’re not alone. According to McKinsey, by 2030, around 500 million freelancers will be working through platforms and making money online. Luckily, this blog post can help you navigate this new landscape.

It’s worth noting that one of the reasons why young individuals seek the flexibility of freelance work is because they value “comfort”. However, being a business owner or freelancer can also bring uncertainty and the fear of not knowing when the next income will come in, leading to sleepless nights. So, if you’re leaving a 9-5 job due to stress, be prepared to face new challenges as a freelancer. This blog post will guide you through the steps from successfully transitioning a 9-5 career to freelancing. If you find it helpful, consider subscribing to our e-mail list for more resources.

What is Freelancing?

Freelancing School says freelancing means working as an “independent company”, where you are “self-employed” and work as an independent contractor.

Why Freelancing?

Why choose freelancing? Let’s picture your typical day: waking up to the sound of the alarm at 5 a.m., rushing to get dressed and brushing your teeth while looking in the mirror and wondering what kind of life you’re living. Then you put on a Beyonce song to motivate yourself, but deep down, you’re not happy because you have to deal with a grumpy boss, annoying HR, and workloads that you have no say over, with no time to develop your skills.

That’s where freelancing comes in. It offers the freedom to work on your terms, implement your ideas as you envision them, choose your projects, and earn more. 

According to Upwork’s Freelance Forward report, flexibility and freedom are the top motivators for new and existing freelancers. For example,

  • 68% of new freelancers say that “career ownership” is a top draw. 
  • 54% are attracted to the ability to work remotely.
  • 78% of skilled remote freelancers cite schedule flexibility as a key reason for freelancing.
  • 73% cite location flexibility.
  • 73% say freelancing allows them to pursue more meaningful work.

If you are also considering freelancing, feel free to share your reasons in the comments below.

How Much Money Can You Make Freelancing?

As a freelancer, the pay is not fixed and varies depending on factors such as expertise, niche, and country, but rather a range. The estimated total income for a freelancer per year can vary in the United States.

$64,046 /yr

Writer

$88,946 /yr

Senior Writer

$85,018 /yr

Lead Writer

Know these Two Things

Don’t panic, and Stay Patient.

Don't panic and Stay Patient

The first few weeks may be challenging, and you may sometimes feel lost. You may need to figure out where to start or how to proceed, and you may also be concerned about the costs of courses and other resources. However, feel free and remember that progress can be made even in small steps.

Step-By-Step Guide 

1: Self-Assessment

Before embarking on a career transition, conducting a thorough self-assessment of your skills, interests, and goals is crucial. As the famous saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” To do this, you should conduct research and answer the following questions:

  • Why do you wish to leave your current job?
  • What are your marketable skills?
  • What do you enjoy doing the most?
  • What industries or niches are you interested in?
  • What are your financial objectives as a freelancer?
  • How would you describe your current financial situation?

Talk to someone about it: If you’re struggling with the decision, talk to someone you trust and who has your best interests in mind. Share your fears, concerns, and reasons behind your decision. You could also seek guidance from respected freelancers or watch YouTube videos to hear about other’s experiences. However, remember that your validation is essential, too. Remember to prioritise your thoughts and feelings.

You can choose the right freelancing path by clearly understanding all these factors.

2: Build a Solid Skill Set

Once you have researched the niche, industry, or market you intend to pursue,

  • Determine the skills required to excel in your chosen freelance field.
  • Spend time enhancing or acquiring these skills through online courses, workshops, and self-education.
  • Connect with experts in your desired industry.

Step 3: Establish a Financial Backup Plan

As a freelancer, your income may be slow at first. It is recommended to save at least three to six months’ living expenses before quitting your 9-5 job. This emergency fund will provide a safety net and lessen financial pressure during the transition.

Try to live within your means by cutting costs, enabling you to afford essential expenses such as data connection, electricity bills, tech devices, and more.

Step 4: Build Your Personal Brand

When you are ready to leave your 9-5 job, start working on your brand by establishing an online presence through professional websites and active social media profiles.

Put into practice what you have learned by sharing your journey, and be bold about being a beginner while improving your skills.

To build credibility, showcase your skills, portfolio, and testimonials. You can contact friends and family who own small businesses and offer to implement your knowledge in exchange for a review or testimonial.

Step 5: Begin Freelancing Part-Time

I’ve heard of individuals who balance their 9-5 jobs with freelancing. After getting good pay and results from freelancing, they leave their 9-5 job and focus solely on freelancing.

Please do note that if you need more preparation for the workload or have many responsibilities and people depending on you, it can be risky to transition from a 9-5 job to freelancing abruptly. It’s wise to consider freelancing part-time while maintaining your full-time job. This approach will allow you to gain experience, establish a clientele, and determine if freelancing is viable.

Step 6: Build a Portfolio

A Freelance Portfolio is a collection of your skills, projects, work, and accomplishments for clients. It showcases how results-oriented and suitable you are for other jobs.

Build a diverse and impressive portfolio to attract clients. Please include your best work and keep it up-to-date. Having a solid portfolio will be beneficial when you decide to go full-time.

Resources: Free Freelance Portfolio websites

Step 7: Set Your Freelance Rates

To ensure fair pay, research industry standards and set freelance rates that cover your expenses, be transparent with clients about pricing.

Resources: 

You’re probably calculating freelance rates all wrong — so follow this strategy instead.

How To Set Your Freelance Rate: The Comprehensive Guide | Upwork

Step 8: Create a Business Plan

Now that you have experimented for a while, it’s time to carry out “Strategic Marketing”. Where you start treating your freelancing as a business: Outline your goals, target clients, marketing strategies, and financial projections in a comprehensive business plan. This roadmap will keep you focused and organised. Start sending in strategic Business Proposals and pitches to small business owners.

Step 9: Network and Market Yourself

Leverage your network and join relevant professional groups or online communities. Attend industry events and use social media to connect with potential clients. Effective networking can lead to valuable freelance opportunities.

Step 10: Quit Your 9-5 Job

Once your freelancing income is stable and sustainable, you can then proceed to resign professionally from your 9-5 job.

Step 11: Manage Your Finances

As a freelancer, it is crucial to manage finances carefully by tracking income and expenses, setting aside funds for taxes, and seeking assistance from an accountant or financial advisor to ensure stability.

Step 12: Stay Committed and Adapt

Freelancing can be challenging, especially in the early stages. It’s essential to stay committed to your goals, be disciplined, keep learning, and be willing to adapt your strategies based on market trends and client feedback.

MY TWO CENT: 

Growing up, I read a book called “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki, and the lessons I learned from it have stayed with me throughout my life. Whether I’m working a 9-5 job, freelancing, or helping out on my parent’s fish farm, the book’s teachings have been invaluable: 

  • One of the book’s key takeaways is that money is imaginary, and to achieve financial success, we must continually educate ourselves about money.
  • The book also emphasises the importance of building passive income streams that cover your expenses, saving, diversifying income and investments, not spending all of your income, and reducing costs. 

Following these principles, we can break free from the “Poor Dad” cycle and become a “Rich Dad”. 

Conclusion

Transitioning from a 9-5 career to freelancing is a significant step that requires careful planning and dedication. By following these steps and staying focused on your goals, you can successfully shift to freelancing and enjoy its freedom and fulfilment.

We also have another blog post on

9 to 5 or freelancing: How do you balance the two?

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