Make it Work
Make It Pay
Becoming a full-time freelancer is no easy feat. For many writers, an office job and supplemental income are necessary to sustain their standards of living until they can officially declare themselves independent.
With careful planning and strong will, a writer can successfully get out of the cubicle and into her own schedule. Although it may take time and sacrifice, it isn’t impossible. In fact, according to the Freelancers Union, 42 million or “nearly one in three working Americans is an independent worker.”
Let’s take a look at some tips that will ease the transition from the full-time to the freelance life.
Clients won’t be knocking at the door, or better yet, filling up a writer’s inbox overnight. It takes time and patience to build a portfolio and a client list. In the mean time, there needs to be money in the bank. “Try to have about six months worth of living expenses saved up and be mercilessly conservative about dipping into this supply. Eventually, you can ease up, but as your first start freelancing full time, leave it alone,” MintLife blog’s Nicholas Pell wrote.
Find Affordable Health Care and Benefits
Taking the leap from a full time job with a 401k, dental, and health care is scary. Unfortunately, until the Affordable Care Act kicks in starting in 2014, freelancers may still have difficulty being able to pay for health care.
There are still options out there for independent workers, however. Currently, the Freelancers Union is offering health, as well as dental, disability, term life, and retirement insurance at group rates, depending upon where a worker is located.
States themselves also offer health care plans. In New York, for example, there’s Healthy New York, where individuals can pay a lower-than-average rate for quality care.
Figuring out the best option takes ample research and some creativity, but the effort will pay off, considering that sitting at a desk all day is unhealthy, anyway.
Establish a Routine
In the beginning of the switch from full-time to freelance, a writer may be tempted to completely turn his or her schedule around and keep late hours. But this is not recommended. In fact, working during office hours is still advisable.
Samar Owais of HongKiat.com advised, “If you sleep and wake up late, your entire day gets realigned. Instead of working through the morning, you’re working through the night. Not only is that unhealthy, it turns all your waking hours into working ones.”
Owais highlights the fact that clients won’t be up all night, so neither should the writer. If the writer isn’t accessible during the day, this could lead to a rift in business. Plus, in general, if writers aren’t sleeping enough, it will be detrimental to their mental and physical health.
Before diving in, prospective freelance writers need to establish connections with other people in their fields and clients. “You need people in your field to recognize your name and respect your work,” Freelance Switch’s Allie Freeland said.
Freeland also points out that getting to know other independent workers, such as graphic designers, is going to lead to more work, “Having experience working with designers can make you a shoo-in for future projects. Employers believe there is a greater chance of receiving a cohesive, well-constructed project, with you involved.”
To search for clients, networking events are helpful, as is reaching out to other freelancers for advice. Making personal connections online and offline should be the focus, as opposed to sizing people up for opportunities. “The key to finding and retaining writing clients is to develop relationships with people,” “Don’t see them as a sale. Don’t see them as a way to connect with top editors at magazines. They’re human beings, not commodities,”All Freelance Writing’s Amandah Blackwell said.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Matt MacGilivray