The thought of freelancing is a daunting one. After all, you are sacrificing the security of a steady paycheck to pursue your freedom and passion. Freelancing is essentially a business, so you have to handle it like one, from securing clients to filing taxes. In the end, freelancing is a big challenge and the risks involved can make you hesitate, especially if you don’t have any prior business experience. So when should you start freelancing as graphic designer?
It’s no secret that the concept of job security has been diminishing over the years. Even if you are working for a well-established company, the higher ups can easily show you the door for many reasons. However, the good news is that venturing out and starting an online business is now easier than ever. 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 and making money online.
If you are passionate about graphic design, then freelancing is the perfect way to turn that passion into a profitable business — the only caveat is that you have to be determined enough to overcome your insecurities and take that first step. Like it or not, circumstances will never be perfect, though it’s never a bad idea to be prudent. You should begin by taking stock of your situation, financial or otherwise, and reducing any possible risks.
Tips on When to Start Freelancing
WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A FULL TIME JOB
If you are gainfully employed, then I would recommend that you stay in your job and use any free time to improve your prospects as a freelance graphic designer. By going this route you can take the time to build a professional portfolio and level up your skills — all without having to worry about your next paycheck. And when you finally quit job and start freelancing, with a solid foundation already laid out you will be able to provide more value and secure better projects.
If you have the time and energy, it’s possible to take a few small projects and make some side income while working a full time job. Having a client base beforehand will make the transition to freelancing smoother. 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 there won’t be any trouble with your current employer.
Furthermore, having a job means you can save up emergency funds. Based on my experience, you probably won’t be earning much income in the first few months of freelancing. As such, having some money saved up will give you breathing room while you secure more and better clients. As a suggestion, save enough funds to last for around six months after factoring in expenditures such as rent, utilities and daily necessities.
Finally, freelancing while employed gives you a chance to decide whether this path is really right for you. The reality is that being a freelancer is far from a bed of roses. You might be drawn to the freedom, but you will most certainly end up sacrificing weekends to meet deadlines or catch up on mind-numbing tasks like squaring your accounts. Being successful as a freelancer takes a lot of hard work — and not everyone is able to endure till the end.
DEVELOP FRUGAL HABITS AND ELIMINATE DEBT
For a freelancer it’s vital that you manage your finances well. After all, projects come and go, and there will be dry periods when you have to make every dollar count. So even though you may be making good money now, having a frugal lifestyle will ensure that your business is sustainable in the long run, as you will have the funds to overcome bad times and grow during good ones.
Being frugal is as simple as spending less and saving more, while taking a hard look at your needs and wants. If you live frugally, you will have enough saved to weather through any situation. Frugality also involves taking active steps to pay off any debts you have as soon as possible. In fact, I highly advise you to be debt-free before starting out as a freelancer. You might not think it’s a big deal when you are gainfully employed, but as a freelancer trying to pay off your debts on top of income insecurity is the definition of living hell. Debt is a downward spiral and will ruin you financially if you aren’t prudent with your money.
CONSIDER OTHER COMMITMENTS
You have probably heard 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 are already financially secured.
But if you are young and without commitments, then don’t be afraid to take the plunge. Having youth on your side gives you the chance to explore other options if freelancing doesn’t work out for you. Even then, you would have gained invaluable experience that will benefit you in the future.
In my case, I decided to get into freelancing when I was in my late 20s. Back then I didn’t have any commitments and was living with my parents, so my mindset was to give it everything and pursue my passion with no regrets — which brings me to my last point…
JUST DO IT
Being prepared reduces some of the risks of starting out as a freelancer. But in that time, negativity might take over. How much emergency funds are enough? Maybe I’m not that good at 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 give up now you will definitely regret it in the future.
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 — there are probably people around you who are wasting their lives away when they could be pursuing their passions and living their lives to the fullest. You don’t want to be like them.
In the end, the answer to the question of when to start freelancing really depends on how much you believe in yourself as a freelance graphic designer. If you keep having doubts in 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