Want to quit your day job and go full-time as a freelance writer? Working in your pajamas and having more time may seem like heaven, and it is. However you need to think carefully about what it’s like when you don’t have a regular pay check.
Firstly, the good news. There’s never been a better time to be a writer. Content is in high demand, so there’s an unlimited market for your work. There’s also a huge supply of clients who will pay well for your writing.
As a freelancer, you decide when and where you’ll work. If you want to take the morning off, or even a complete day off, you can. Your commute takes seconds: just stroll into your home office.
No home office? You can write on the sofa, with the TV on in the background, or in a coffee shop. There are no rules, you do what suits you, as long as you write.
Now, the bad news. You’re your own boss, and in the beginning anyway, your only employee. Mortgage payments, taxes, health insurance, house and car insurance… your writing pays for it all.
With that thought in mind, let’s look at four things you MUST do, before you quit your day job.
1. Get Regular Clients on Retainer
As a freelancer, you won’t have a paycheck. Here’s what you’ll have instead: both regular freelance gigs, and clients on retainer. Here’s why. Clients change their minds, sometimes. They can even go out of business when you least expect it. Magazines fold. Therefore, relying on one-shot projects is risky. You need regular writing projects and income.
You may have earned $15,000 a month for the past three months, but unless you have regular gigs, and retainer clients, you can’t depend on making $15,000 this month.
2. Make and Keep Connections, You’ll Need Them
Pick up the phone. Or fire up Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+. You need to make connections not only with graphic designers, marketing managers, magazine editors, and Web development companies, but also with other freelancers.
Introduce yourself. Chat, either on the phone, or in person. Have a network in place. Yes, this takes time. However, it’s quid pro quo. Just as someone is part of your network, you’re part of others’ networks. It’s easy to make connections; do it.
3. Develop Marketing Plans
Before you quit your job, create marketing plans now, and carry them out. Get comfortable doing this. You can make more money freelancing than you can make at any regular job, but only if you embrace marketing.
4. Pay off Bills and Get Money in the Bank
Pay off your debts. Get a financial cushion — save up six months’ day to day living expenses.
If you don’t have an accountant, now’s the time to hire one. Whatever your accountant’s per-hour rate is, you will save that a hundred times over each year. If your eyes glaze over when you look at a column of figures, put “make appointment with accountant” onto your To Do list today.
A Final Word
Freelance writers are creatives. The routine of a day job can crush your spirit. However, you may need someone to crack the whip over you. If this is the case, in your heart of hearts, you know this. Freelancing can be stressful, and may not be for you.
On the other hand, if you’re ready to embrace the freelance lifestyle, and are prepared to be your own (strict) boss, freelancing may be in your future. Do the four things above, and walk confidently into that future. In your pajamas, if you like.