Making the switch to the gig economy comes with a range of tempting benefits. Instead of heading into an office at a specific time each day for a certain amount of hours, you get the freedom to work where, when, and how often you want. Rather than reporting to a manager, you get to be your own boss and have the final say in the kind of work you take on. As an alternative to doing one type of job or working on one field, you can dabble in many different niches to keep things interesting.
That being said, freelancing isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. To make this career move, you need to prepare, have discipline, and stay organized to ensure your success. After all, being in charge means you’re the one responsible for your own income!
If you’re thinking about making the switch to working freelance full-time, consider the following four questions first so you can make sure you’re starting on a solid foundation. Once you have these answers in mind and with a little help from a salary calculator, you’ll be on the path to becoming a professional freelancer.
How Many Clients Do You Have?
It’s much easier to make the switch to freelancing full-time if you have a steady source of money coming in that you can survive off of as you look for more clients. If you are currently working a full-time job and are freelancing on the side, take a look at how many clients you have and what kind of income they’re providing you. If you haven’t started working as a freelancer, see if you have some potential clients in the pipeline you can count on so you don’t have to run through all your savings from the get-go.
There’s no magic number to how many clients you should have as a freelancer. You could have just three clients who pay you a significant chunk of change significantly (also called “anchor” clients), or you could have 10 “smaller” clients whose payments end up equaling the same amount. The important thing is that you want to start off on the right foot by having some clients, or at least one, before you leave behind your secure source of income.
Are You Able to Bring in More Clients?
While the flexibility of freelancing is a big part of what makes it fun, it also means there can often be uncertainty about how much money you’ll be bringing in each month. To freelance full-time successfully, you need to be able to regularly acquire work so you don’t get stuck in a dry spell without any cash.
As a freelancer, you can’t be afraid to use your network to find projects and build professional connections. For example, you could contact old places of employment to see if they have freelance opportunities, join professional groups on Facebook to learn about new gigs, and do some advertising to promote your business. Remember that part of the job is finding working.
What is Your Desired Yearly Salary?
As a freelancer, you’ll get to set your own rates, which means you shouldn’t forget to factor in how much you want to make each year while negotiating with new clients. While these rates should be in line with industry standards for your services and your experience, they should also be enough to live off of if you want to take the plunge to full-time freelancing.
When you’re figuring out how much to charge as a freelancer, start by deciding how much you want to earn in a year. Then, use that yearly salary to figure out how much you should be making in an hour, depending on how many hours per week you want to work. If you’re slightly stumped at how to convert your salary, GIGA Calculator’s free online salary converter can easily tackle these calculations for you! Once you know your target hourly rate, you can make more educated rate bids when taking on new freelance work.
Though, keep in mind, freelancing often requires you to work your way up, so you may not be getting the best pay at first.
What is the Cost of Living Where You Live?
You may be living comfortably with your current salary, but you need to take a hard look at your cost of living against your projected freelance salary to ensure you don’t get caught without enough money to pay the bills. Add up the cost of your rent or mortgage, utilities, phone, food, insurance, transportation, and other expenses to make sure you’ll still be able to maintain your standard of living.
If your cost of living is too high for what you’re expecting to make as a new, full-time freelancer, you can either find areas to cut costs, re-assess whether you can charge a higher rate or take on more clients, or consider moving to a new place more suitable for your new lifestyle. There are many freelancers or remote workers who have become “digital nomads” and live in countries that have cheaper costs of living than their home country.
If you’re interested in becoming a full-time freelancer, start smart by building up a client base, having a reasonable yearly salary in mind, and making a budget so you know you’ll be able to cover your living costs. When it comes time to take on new work, use a salary converter to help set your rates so you know you’ll hit your financial goals and find success while freelancing.
Cindy is a freelance writer and editor with previous experience in marketing as well as book publishing. Along with her content writing for a diverse portfolio of clients, Cindy’s work has been featured in Thrillist, The Points Guy, Forbes, and more.