Transitioning from employee to freelancer: How to cautiously make the leap?

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There is a global revolution going on. All over the world, and in many sectors, people are shedding the 9-to-5 jobs and trading them in for life as a freelancer or self-employed contractor. Freelancers come from many walks of life, and they are designers, developers, writers, consultants, and everything else that can be done at home, from a coffee shop, or even on the run. The internet and all the technology that is supported by it have allowed people to do many things that were once only available to medium-to-large organizations.

Cloud services make it easy to store data sets, large, medium, or small while sifting through and analyzing it. The Internet of Things (IoT) allows people who are self-employed to stay ever connected to digital assistants and other applications that make their work easier. All of this and more are paving the way for freelancers.

Employee to Freelancer

If you have been toying around with the idea of becoming a freelancer or self-employed contractor, here are some quick tips to help you get your career on the right foot.

Think and plan realistically: Decrease unneeded spending.

The first thing you need to start preparing for before you quit your day job is the struggles that come with freelancing. You might have these pictures of people sitting on the beach, sipping a piña colada and a laptop on their lap (hence the term “laptop”). Oh, no! It is far from that glamorous – at least in the beginning.

Before you schedule a date in which you will put your company on notice, you need to get all of your expenditures down as much as you possibly can. If you are single and live in a normal apartment, maybe you should consider a cheaper studio. However, if you are planning on working abroad, you can potentially find cheaper apartments to stay in as you begin your freelancer life, you just need to know where to look. Checking out apartments in lisbon portugal or in Paris, for example, will show you what is available and how it can work for you. Some people stay in their own country when they go freelance, others want to expand their reach and turn it into a travel/work situation.

It would also be a good idea to change any habits that will cause you to spend money where you absolutely don’t need to. If you are paying a lot for a modem or mobile data plan, search for the best internet service providers.

Start spending time learning all you can.

You might think that you have what it takes to be your own boss; you might think that you know there is to know about your chosen field of expertise.

The fact is, you can never know too much. Often times, people worked as IT for companies, then decided they wanted to work freelance, but soon found out after venturing on their own that there was a lot they didn’t know. This is because as we work for a company, we are often kept in a proverbial box. We are not exposed to the same challenges that freelancers or self-employed people face on a daily basis.

For example, as a writer by hobby, I thought that becoming a freelance copywriter would be a sinch. I was in for a huge surprise when I found that there was a lot I didn’t know about copywriting specifically. Learn the game before you quit your job and jump head first into an empty swimming pool.

You’re not an employee anymore, remember that.

Though the line between employer and client starts to seem thin, the fact is, you are not an employee anymore. Clients can actually be more demanding than working for an employer, which can become stressful after some time. This means you have to learn and set a whole new set of rules to follow in order to stay balanced.

When you work as an employee, your schedules are set for you. You know and understand without being told what time to be somewhere, how to dress, etc.

But when you are a freelancer or a self-employed contractor, there is no one there to set your schedules and reprimand you for screwing up.

What will happen, on the other hand, is your client will just choose to work with someone else, which is kind of like getting fired (hence the thin line between client and boss).

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