The Ultimate Guide to Transitioning into Freelance
If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need to be convinced about all the plus sides of freelancing—choosing when, where, with whom, on what, how much and for how much money you work. Ahhh, sweet freedom!
But, as sweet as it is, freedom always comes with a price. There are skills to learn, doubts to overcome, clients to deal with, and arrangements to make.
Whether you’re wondering if you’re really cut out for freelancing or worrying how you’ll manage it all, this round-up of resources puts together in one place all the information you need to get started as a freelancer, one step at a time.
It doesn’t happen all at once. In this post, you’ll get the steps of transitioning into a full-time freelance career broken down into 4 manageable phases:
- Learning the tech skills you need to get started.
- Getting into the freelance mindset.
- Building a career safety net (so you can say goodbye to your day job!)
- Quitting your job!
For each phase of transitioning into freelance, you’ll find TONS of useful articles and resources to get you on the right track.
Read through them now to help you wrap your head around all the aspects of working for yourself, and then download the guide for handy reference whenever questions pop up later as you’re making your way in your freelance career.
1. Get the technical skills you need (Hint: Learn to code!)
The first step to being ready to be your own boss is to get a set of in-demand skills, and the hottest skills today are tech skills. Clients and companies are constantly on the look out for talented professionals to design and develop websites and apps. So, if you’re ready to change your life, your first step is to learn some valuable tech skills.
For web design, that means UX and design fundamentals, and, for web development, HTML and CSS.
And if you’re ready to level up, you can go beyond the basics to amp up your skills with systems like WordPress and frameworks like Ruby on Rails.
To see if you’ve got what it takes already, check out these convenient checklists complete with resources and more references:
Or, if you need to brush up on your skills, join us for the Skillcrush Blueprints – the perfect way to get the foundation you need in tech!
2. Think like a freelancer
Now that you’re ready to wow the world with your fancy new tech skills, you need to make sure your way of thinking is also primed and polished to deal with the challenges of freelancing and that you’re prepared to handle working with clients all on your own.
You might be surprised that the way you think has more impact on your success as a freelancer than your current skill level. Learning to think like a freelancer, from getting into the developer mindset to working past self-doubt, is the difference between quitting after your first setback and learning from it.
- How to Think Like a Programmer: The Developer Mindset
- 6 Things Every Awesome Web Developer Knows How to Do
- How to Stop Second Guessing Yourself Immediately
Already got your head in the freelance game? Awesome! But you’re not the only person you have to worry about it. A lot of new freelancers struggle with or worry about the prospect of working directly with clients. Read up on how the most successful freelancers communicate and interact with clients:
- 9 Ways to Make a Great First Impression on Your New Client
- 21 Steps to Making Grumpy Clients Happy
- 9 Free Email Templates to Get You Out of Sticky Situations with Clients
- What to Do When Your Friend Becomes Your Client
And as most freelancers will tell you, the key to a stress-free relationship with your client is to make sure you get everything on paper first. Be sure to talk to a legal professional before nailing down a contract to use with clients, but first check out resources to figure out what to watch out for when it comes to the legal side of freelancing:
3. Build your safety net
Even if you’re mentally prepared to tackle problems like a pro and keeping clients happy, you should still create your own job security by learning to avoid common freelancing pitfalls and getting your rates right from the start. Building a safety net means you won’t end up in a bind, unable to make rent or find another client, for example.
And creating your own job security as a freelancer comes in 2 phases.
First, get familiar with the freelance landscape. What expenses can you expect? How much money do you need to make? How much can you charge for your work? Get answers to questions like that in these articles:
- 14 Ways to Stop Relying on Job Benefits
- The Real Cost of Going Freelance
- 14 Things You Need to Know About Freelance Taxes
- The Ultimate Guide to Setting Your Freelance Web Design Rates
- How to Get Paid as Much as You Deserve
- The Foolproof Formula for Calculating Your Price
- 5 10-Minute Tricks to Make More Money Freelancing
And once you have a good idea of the logistics, take some time to ensure you don’t get caught in common pitfalls.
- 50 Tools You Need to Get Your Freelance Business Started
- 5 Mistakes New Freelancers Make
- 7 Common Mistakes Freelancers Make
4. Go for it!
You’ve done what it takes to get this far. Even if you don’t feel 100% ready, you have to start sometime. Either way it’s time to stop dreaming and start freelancing!
First, gain experience and build up your portfolio by doing smaller projects in your free time:
- 5 Freelance Projects You Can Do for $500
- Do You Need a Freelance Job now? Send These 5 Emails
- 13 Ways to Make Your Unpaid Project Really Pay Off
- 10 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand (and why you should)
- How to Build an Impressive Portfolio When You’re New to Tech
And when the moment comes and you’re finally ready to kiss the cubicle goodbye, make sure you quit your job the right way:
So don’t wait! Download the guide below and take the first steps towards building your freelance career right this minute.
She was both one of the first Skillcrush students and one of the first Skillcrush team members, starting as our customer support manager and now serving as our Operations (aka HR) Manager, a writer for our blog, and a career counselor.
Kelli is a Texan living in Finland who loves tech, podcasts, Corgis, emoji, gifs, and, most of all, practicing for and going to catalan style line dancing events all around Europe.