Starting Out

Can Freelancing Be a Full Time Career?

Have you noticed how the gig economy is booming lately?

It’s like everyone and their neighbor is jumping into the freelancing pool, and for good reason!

Can Freelancing Be a Full Time Career?

The freedom to choose your projects, set your own schedule, and work from anywhere (yes, even in your pajamas) is pretty appealing, isn’t it?

But hold on a sec, I know what you’re thinking.

Making the leap to full-time freelancing can be a bit daunting.

There’s that nagging voice in your head asking, “Can I really make a steady income?” or “What if I can’t find enough clients?”

Trust me, you’re not alone in this.

These are common dilemmas that many of us face when considering a full-time freelance career.

So, let’s dive into this together!

We’ll explore the ins and outs of freelancing, debunk some myths, and tackle those dilemmas head-on.

Who knows, by the end of this, you might just be ready to take the plunge and embrace the freelance life!

Understanding Freelancing

At its core, freelancing is all about being your own boss.

It’s like being the captain of your ship, steering your career in whatever direction you choose.

You get to enjoy autonomy, which means you’re in charge of your workload, your clients, and, yes, your coffee breaks.

There’s also the flexibility to work from your cozy home office, a bustling café, or even a beach in Bali (as long as there’s Wi-Fi, of course).

But let’s not get too carried away by those Instagram posts of freelancers chilling on a hammock with their laptops.

While freelancing does offer a ton of perks, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

There are challenges too, like the uncertainty of income, the need to constantly market yourself, and the lack of a traditional support system like HR or IT departments.

For example, take Sarah, a freelance graphic designer.

She loves the freedom to choose projects that resonate with her style, but she also has to deal with the occasional dry spell when work is scarce.

Or consider Mike, a freelance writer who enjoys working from his quaint cabin in the woods but sometimes feels isolated from the outside world.

So, while the flexibility and autonomy of freelancing are fantastic, it’s important to acknowledge that it comes with its own set of challenges.

Making the Transition

Let’s tackle the big question: How do you make the transition from traditional employment to full-time freelancing?

It’s a big shift, so here are some steps to consider.

The first step is to assess whether or not you can do freelancing as a full-time career.

This involves evaluating your skills, the demand for your services, and your ability to manage a freelance business.

It’s important to have a realistic understanding of what freelancing entails and to determine whether it’s a viable option for you.

Once you’ve decided that freelancing is feasible, the next step is to build a financial safety net.

This means saving up enough money to cover your living expenses for several months, providing you with financial stability as you start your freelance journey.

For example, if your monthly expenses amount to $2,000, aim to have a savings buffer of at least $12,000 to cover six months.

Finally, think about transitioning to full-time freelancing gradually and slowly.

Start by freelancing part-time while still working your regular job. This is moonlighting and can help you get a feel if freelancing is really for you at the end of the day.

This also allows you to build your client base and income at a pace that suits you.

As your freelance work becomes more stable and lucrative, you can reduce your hours at your traditional job until you’re ready to commit to freelancing full-time.

For instance, a graphic designer working a 9-5 job might begin taking freelance projects during evenings or weekends, eventually moving to part-time work and dedicating more time to freelancing, until they’re able to freelance full-time.

Building a Successful Freelance Career

Ready to make the transition to be a full-time freelancer? Let’s look at the steps you need to take to make this a successful – and viable – business for you.

1. Finding Your Niche

Focus on a specific area that aligns with your skills and interests.

You might enjoy editing or you might enjoy creating your own stickers.

Specializing in a particular field helps you stand out and attract clients looking for your expertise.

For example, if you’re a writer with a passion for technology, you might concentrate on tech writing.

A focused portfolio will showcase your strengths and draw in the right clients.

2. Effective Networking

Building professional relationships is essential for freelancers.

Use social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with potential clients and showcase your work.

Go ahead and connect with the people who hire freelancers. These might be content managers, communication managers or editors.

Attend industry events and workshops to meet other professionals in your field. Networking helps you find new opportunities and grow your client base.

3. Securing Long-Term Projects

Aim for projects that provide ongoing work rather than one-off tasks.

Long-term projects offer stability and consistent income.

You can find these clients on freelance sites too.

Build trust with your clients by delivering high-quality work on time and maintaining good communication.

Satisfied clients are more likely to offer repeat business.

4. Setting Competitive Rates

Determine your rates based on your experience, the project’s complexity, and industry standards.

Remember to account for the additional costs of being self-employed, such as taxes and benefits.

Be transparent about your pricing and open to negotiation to find a fair agreement for both you and your clients.

5. Marketing Yourself

Promote your services effectively to attract clients as a new freelancers.

This will help you get noticed.

Create a professional website that showcases your portfolio and highlights your skills.

This is the #1 way I find clients easily.

Engage with your audience through content like blog posts or videos that demonstrate your expertise.

You can create topics that would help your client. For example, if you are a freelance artist and you want to create art for a book author you can write about:

  • How to create a high converting book cover
  • Why a freelance artist can save you $1,000 on your next book launch
  • Best tools to create an eBook to sell

Effective marketing increases your visibility and helps you attract more clients.

Managing the Logistics

Navigating the logistics of freelancing, especially when it comes to taxes, can be a bit tricky, but it’s crucial for running a successful freelance business.

As a freelancer, you’re responsible for managing your own tax obligations.

In the UK, for example, this means registering for self-assessment with HMRC and paying income tax on your earnings.

You’ll also need to pay self-employment tax, which covers Social Security and Medicare, and be aware of business taxes that may apply to your freelance work, such as sales or property tax.

While tax specifics can vary depending on your location, the general principle remains the same: stay on top of your tax responsibilities to avoid penalties and ensure you’re not overpaying.

In addition to handling taxes, it’s wise to seek professional advice on legal matters and financial planning.

Consulting with experts like accountants or financial advisors can help you navigate the complexities of freelancing, from understanding tax deductions to making informed financial decisions for your business.

They can provide valuable insights and guidance to ensure you’re managing your freelance logistics effectively and legally.

So, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help when needed – it can save you time, money, and a lot of headaches in the long run.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Freelancing comes with many common challenges and that means you need to be prepared.

Here are some hurdles you might face and how to tackle them:

  1. Isolation: Working independently can sometimes feel lonely. To combat this, consider joining online communities or forums related to your field. Engage in social media groups or attend virtual networking events to connect with like-minded professionals. Regularly scheduling video calls with friends or colleagues can also help maintain a sense of connection and support.
  2. Negotiation Skills: Negotiating rates and project terms is a critical skill for freelancers. To improve your negotiation skills, do your research to understand the market rates for your services. Practice clear and confident communication, and don’t be afraid to assert your value. Remember, negotiation is a two-way street, so be open to finding a compromise that benefits both parties.
  3. Maintaining Work-Life Balance: It’s easy for the lines between work and personal life to blur when you’re freelancing. To maintain balance, set clear boundaries for your work hours and stick to them. Use tools like calendars and task lists to organize your day and make time for breaks and leisure activities. It’s important to prioritize self-care and ensure you’re not overworking.
  4. Time Management: With multiple projects and clients, managing your time effectively is crucial. Break down your tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and prioritize them based on deadlines and importance. Use time-tracking tools to monitor how much time you’re spending on each task and adjust as needed to stay on track.
  5. Client Communication: Clear and consistent communication with clients is key to a successful freelance career. Keep your clients informed about the progress of their projects, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or clarify expectations. Establishing a regular communication schedule can help ensure that both you and your clients are on the same page.

Looking to the Future

Looking to the future, two key factors can significantly impact the success of your freelance career: adaptability and continuous learning.

In a rapidly changing market, staying relevant is crucial.

This means being open to new trends, technologies, and approaches in your field.

Investing time in learning new skills or updating existing ones can help you maintain a competitive edge. For example, if you’re a web developer, staying current with the latest coding languages and web design trends is essential.

As you grow in your freelance career, there’s also the potential for expanding your business into a larger enterprise.

This could mean hiring other freelancers to work with you on bigger projects, offering a wider range of services, or even starting your own agency.

The key is to think strategically about your long-term goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them. With the right mindset and a commitment to growth, the possibilities for your freelance business are endless.

Ready to Be a Freelancer Full-Time?

I hope you found this helpful! Let me know if you have any questions and I can help you.

Elna Cain is a B2B freelance writer  for SaaS businesses and digital marketing brands and the co-founder of Freelancer FAQs. She's been featured on Entrepreneur, The Ladders, The Penny Hoarder, Leadpages and more. If you want to learn how to freelance write, check out her free course, Get Paid to Write Online.

Leave a Reply