Planning for Success, 7 Things to Consider before Launching Your Freelance Freelancing
In today’s interconnected world, freelancing has become the key for many people to achieve the lifestyle they have always wanted.
Freelancing is global and offers freedom. Freedom from an office cubicle, freedom from a strict 9 to 5 work life, freedom from a boss who demands you work overtime.
Freedom to work when you want, where you want, and how you want.
This dream is attractive, but unfortunately, many people quit their current job and jump into a freelance career without considering several important questions. Then, they wonder why their new freelance career isn’t all that they had dreamed.
I want to share with you 7 questions that you need to carefully consider and answer before launching headfirst into a new freelance career.
Also, if you’ve already taken the leap, it’s a good idea to hit the pause button, read through these questions, and see if you’re set up for success.
I’m not talking about seeing yourself sipping a cool drink on a white sandy beach (although, that would be nice!).
You need to seriously ask yourself, What do I want to accomplish?
Freelancers are often dazzled at the prospect of finally controlling their time and work. But, many don’t stop to consider what that means, and what they want from freelancing beyond breaking free from crappy office coffee and a boss who doesn’t recognize or value their work.
So, constructively, what are your goals?
Do you want to hit a financial goal or pay off debts?
Are you looking to build a career where you can work remotely and travel when you want?
Or, are you happy at your current job and want to make some extra money?
Your goals will determine how your freelance career takes shape, what type of work you do, what clients you take, how many you have, and so much more.
If you know, specifically and concretely, what you want your freelance career to do for you, it will help you make the right decisions about how to start and grow your career.
Your freelance career is what YOU make it, so what do you want to make it? You’ll have a mix of both personal and professional goals. Setting those goals (and writing them down) is often the first step to achieving them.
Freelancing will require time, effort, and energy. And lots of it!
Freelancing doesn’t just happen. YOU make it happen.
You’ll need to make practical decisions about how you do the work (like whether you do it before or after work, and what hardware or software you need to do it) as well as where you’ll do it (like will you need to set up a home office, or will you need to find a quiet place away from a noisy household) and when you’ll work (like whether you’ll get up extra early to dedicate time to freelancing, or will you be able to work after office hours or on weekends).
But, you also need to take stock of the constraints and obligations you currently have and how you’ll manage them while adding more to your plate.
Do you have children? How about a partner or spouse? Ignoring your family to build a freelance career isn’t good or healthy.
You need to consider how you will maintain these relationships and manage the long term commitments you have already.
If you don’t, you’ll find yourself quickly overwhelmed, and something will suffer.
Are there things you are doing now that need to stop? Are there good things that you simply can’t do because your freelance career needs to take priority, at least for right now?
No one has the time to do everything, and sometimes we all must sacrifice to build the career and life that we want.
So, think carefully about your priorities so that you don’t end up sacrificing something that’s too important in your life.
Many freelancers start their career with ambitions of becoming a full time freelancer. But, the road from full time employment to full time freelancing can be tricky.
Everyone’s path won’t be the same. What your path will look like depends on you taking stock of your current situation.
Especially if you’re still working at your current job, you’ll need to work out a plan that includes specific steps you’ll take to transition from that job to your new freelance career.
First, consider your current job.
Will your employer make you sign a non-compete clause? What level of income do you need to leave your job? How much would you need to charge your clients to make this income threshold?
Then, consider your experience and skills.
Do you need to get a certificate, do extra training, or develop certain skills that you are currently lacking? How long will this take? Do you have a timeline?
Before you go out and begin getting new clients, you need to decide what you want to accomplish and where you want to go. Then, you need to develop a plan to get there.
Things won’t always go as planned. But, that isn’t the point.
You don’t accidentally become a successful freelancer. You get there by creating a realistic, feasible plan and then taking real, tangible, and measurable steps toward your goals.
Too many “would be” freelancers quit their new ambition simply because they didn’t have a concrete plan to follow.
If you’re still juggling a full-time career and attempting to launch a new freelance career, read this article for some practical suggestions on how to launch and grow a freelancing career while working full time .
What type of services will you offer? Even if I focus on helping developers launch their freelancing career, there are many other professions and skills where freelancing is a great career path.
Will you work as a full-stack developer? If you’re considering this, read Should You Become a Full-Stack Developer .
Will you work with certain types of clients or only on certain types of products, like websites?
What type of work will you be doing, and why do you want to do that?
Deciding on your niche is important, even if it changes and develops over time.
There’s a phrase that is always good to remember, “The riches are in the niches.” If you are a specialist, you’ll be able to make more money and do better work.
So, pick one. Consider your experience, your passions, your strengths. Decide on a type of freelancing that appeals to who you are and what you envision yourself doing.
This follows the idea of picking a niche in Question 4, but basically, What makes you special?
That’s sometimes a hard question, but it’s an important one.
Let’s face it. There are a lot of freelancers out there. As a new freelancer, you’ll face a ton of competition for new clients.
And, every potential client will be asking themselves why they should work with you, so you better have an answer ready.
It can be anything from special skills or experiences you’ve acquired to something simple like “I will work harder than anyone else.”
This question also refers to creating a brand that helps you decide what sets you apart and how you will differentiate yourself from the crowd.
I emphasize the importance of branding and give you some practical pointers to help you create a brand in this article .
If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor. The right branding is going to help launch your freelance career successfully.
Many new freelancers have never had to deal with actually setting rates and charging clients.
So, this may be new territory for you.
But, deciding how much you charge and how you’ll bill your clients are some of the most important decisions you will make.
You can’t leave these decisions up to chance, and you’ll need to have a solid plan in place before getting your first client.
Setting prices and billing clients will change over time, gradually increasing as you get better, establish a track record, and improve your skills.
Pricing is tricky, but it is also dynamic because YOU set the prices. Set them too low and you will be working without achieving the financial results you want. Set them too high, and the clients you need can’t afford you.
But, pricing is all contextual.
For the client, it’s based on their perceived value and the impact you make on their business.
For you, it determines how busy you are and what financial goals you want to achieve.
Read How to Price Your Services as a Freelance Developer for advice on how to work through these decisions.
Once you’ve worked through the first six questions and feel that you have a solid plan in place, you’ll then need to consider how to get that first client.
The first client is the hardest. But, get that one, and you’ve launched your freelance career!
So, where will they come from? How will you connect with potential clients?
Will you join the chamber of commerce in your area, providing training and support for businesses in need? Will you go to a regional conference? Will you build a website and pay for some digital ads?
Sometimes, you’ll need to think outside the box or move out of your comfort zone in order to reach potential clients. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
But also, don’t sell yourself short or agree to work with a client who pushes you to deviate from the services or expertise that you offer.
Stick to your plan and stick to your brand. The right clients will appreciate and pay for your services, especially if they are convinced that what you offer will bring value to their business.
There are so many ways to reach that first client. Read this article Generating Leads and Referrals for lots of ideas.
All you need is one client, and you are off to races.
The key to successfully beginning a new freelance career is to have a well-thought-through plan.
Freelancers often get into trouble when they don’t consider the practical steps they’ll need to take to quit their day job and start this new endeavor.
Remember, freelancing doesn’t just happen. YOU make it happen!
So, ask yourself:
- What is my vision?
- What do I need to change about my life in order to start freelancing?
- What is my “exit” plan?
- What is my specialty, and why?
- Why would someone want to hire me?
- How much will I charge?
- Where will I get my first client?
If you carefully work through these 7 questions, you’ll set yourself up for success and be able to enjoy all the benefits and freedom of freelancing!
Thanks for reading!
Juan Cruz Martinez
Juan has made it his mission to help aspiring developers unlock their full potential. With over two decades of hands-on programming experience, he understands the challenges and rewards of learning to code. By providing accessible and engaging educational content, Juan has cultivated a community of learners who share their passion for coding. Leveraging his expertise and empathetic teaching approach, Juan has successfully guided countless students on their journey to becoming skilled developers, transforming lives through the power of technology.