The thought of freelancing is a daunting one. After all, you’re sacrificing the security of a steady paycheck for a chance to freedom and passion. You also have to handle it like a business — which means doing everything, from securing clients to filing taxes. In short, freelancing is a big challenge, and the risks involved can make you hesitant, especially if you don’t have any business experience.
However, it’s no secret that job security has diminished significantly over the years. Even in a large company, you can easily be shown the door for many reasons. On the other hand, with the internet it’s now easier than ever to venture out on your own. If you have the drive to learn new things and aren’t afraid to explore new opportunities, then the sky is the limit when it comes to working online.
Freelancing as a graphic designer is one such opportunity, and the perfect way to turn your passion into a professional career. If you’re determined to go down this path, then realize that sooner or later, you have to overcome your insecurities and take that first step. Like it or not, circumstances will never be perfect — but it’s never a bad idea to be prudent. With the risks involved, you should definitely take stock of your situation and consider all the possibilities before taking the plunge.
WHY YOU SHOULD FREELANCE WITH A FULL TIME JOB
If you’re still gainfully employed, consider staying in your job and using the extra time to improve your skills and knowledge in graphic design. By doing so, you don’t have to worry about your next paycheck. With better skills, you will provide more value to your clients — and secure higher-paying projects when you actually start freelancing.
For the more ambitious, you can start taking projects and make additional income on the side while working a full time job. Securing a client base gives you a head start when you actually make the transition. In fact, there are many freelancers who start off part-time, doing client work at night and on weekends. But take note that some companies don’t allow moonlighting, so check your job contract and make sure you don’t run into any trouble with your current employer.
Having a job also means you can save up emergency funds. You probably won’t be earning much income in the first few months of freelancing. As such, having money in hand will give you some breathing room and tide you over while you secure clients. As a suggestion, you should save enough funds to last for more than six months after factoring in expenditures such as rent, utilities and daily necessities.
Finally, freelancing while employed allows you to decide whether this path is really right for you. Reality isn’t as rosy as you expect. You might like the freedom to manage your own time and work, but you will most certainly end up sacrificing weekends to meet deadlines or catch up on accounting. Being successful as a freelancer takes a lot of hard work — and not everyone is up to the task.
DEVELOP FRUGAL HABITS AND ELIMINATE DEBT
For a freelancer, it’s vital that you manage your finances well. After all, projects — and paychecks — come and go. Since you’re self-employed, you’re very much responsible for your own finances. Even though you may earn good income in the future, having a frugal lifestyle will make your money go much further.
Being frugal is as simple as distinguishing between your needs and wants; it’s about spending less and saving more. As discussed earlier, you should have emergency funds before starting your freelance career. If you live frugally, you will be able to save the amount you need much sooner. In addition, developing frugal habits teaches you dedication, determination and discipline — traits that will help you succeed as a freelancer.
More importantly, frugality here means you must pay off as much of your debts as possible before even considering freelancing. You might not think it’s bad when you’re gainfully employed, but consider the prospect of paying off your debts on top of income insecurity as a freelancer . . . it won’t be pretty. Debt is a downward spiral and can ruin your freelance career if you don’t make sound financial decisions.
CONSIDER OTHER COMMITMENTS
You probably heard of stories where commitments get in the way of passion. It’s inevitable that you have to take on more responsibilities as you get older, whether it’s taking care of family or paying off the mortgage. In such scenarios, freelancing might not be the right move, unless you’re already close to financial independence.
But if you’re young and without commitments, then don’t be afraid to give freelancing a go. Having age on your side gives you the chance to turn back if things don’t work out. Even then, you would have gained invaluable experience that will benefit you in the future.
JUST DO IT
Being prepared definitely reduces some of the risks of starting out as a freelancer. But in that time, negativity might take over your mind. How much emergency funds are enough? Maybe I’m not talented in graphic design? What if things go horribly wrong? It’s easy to let such thoughts hold you back from freelancing. On the other hand, if you turn back now, you will regret not having the courage to pursue your dreams in the first place.
Sometimes, you just have to do it and worry about the risks later. Even when resources are scarce, it’s usually a matter of staying motivated and coming up with creative ways to overcome such problems. As the saying goes, you only live once, so don’t let it go to waste.
In fact, many people regret they didn’t quit their jobs and pursue their passions sooner. They wished they were confident enough to take the plunge instead of wasting their years tolling away in the same office cubicle. You don’t want to end up like them.
In the end, the first step to your career as a freelance graphic designer starts with believing in yourself. If you doubt your ability to succeed, then all the preparation in the world won’t ever be enough.
Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Clause. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?
— Jon Bon Jovi