7 Must-Know Tips for Transitioning from a Remote Job to Freelance Work
To be successful at freelancing, you need to make sure you are good at controlling your own time.
In the last few years, many people who never thought they’d be the work at home type got a big taste of ditching the daily commute. They're now able to show up at their computers from home to complete their work tasks.
According to Pew Research, 60 percent of the people that are working from home now would like to continue working from home in the future. And based on my conversations with people in my consulting work, I know that there are many that would like to make the jump from working remotely for someone else to doing freelance work for clients.
Right now it’s easier than it has ever been to become a profitable freelancer. Between the large freelancing platforms and many businesses who desire hiring freelancers with specific expertise, there are many lucrative opportunities ready to take advantage of.
Here are some tips that I’ve used myself. I've also given these to my clients to help them make the transition from working a remote job to working as a freelancer.
Understand your value
If you’ve been working remotely, then it’s very likely you have a skill set that is marketable as a freelancer. Whether you are an accountant, an engineer, part of support staff or an SEO expert, there are many businesses that are willing to pay a premium for your services.
Skilled freelancers can generally command much higher hourly rates than traditional workers; one of the reasons that freelancing is so appealing to people.
The beginning balance
As you are transitioning from a remote job to freelance work, you are going to need to figure out how to get new clients while maintaining your current workload. For most people, this means maintaining your regular work schedule for a while as you learn to acquire new clients. Generally, that means focusing on client acquisition and freelance gigs in the early morning, evenings and weekends.
It’s a lot of hard work, but in the end it can make transitioning much easier. Once you’ve lined up enough client work to cover your basic bills (and have six months of living expenses saved) and are skilled at getting new clients, that's when I typically advise my clients it’s time to make the transition.
Own your schedule
One of the hardest things for people to do when they start freelancing gigs instead of working on the clock is taking control of their own schedule. I find that letting the calendar be my boss works the best. Other people focus on to-do lists. The most important thing is that you own your schedule. When you say you are going to work, then work.
Most freelance work comes with deadlines and you want to make sure that you meet them in order to get and maintain a great reputation.
Build-in new client acquisition
Even if you currently have a full slate of clients, you want to make sure that you are building some time into your schedule for new client acquisition. When you are freelancing there is always a risk that a client will drop out. You need to be able to replace that client if and when that happens.
By keeping your client acquisition skills fresh, you can help to mitigate this risk.
Understanding your tax liabilities
Taxes are another area where I see freelancers really struggle as they make the transition from working remotely as an employee to freelance work.
As a freelance worker, you are 100 percent responsible for taking the taxes out of your earnings. You need to work with a good accountant from the beginning to make sure you are doing this properly.
Handling health insurance
When you move to freelance work, you typically need to start covering your own health insurance. This can be a big expense so it’s something that you need to price out before you leave your traditional job. In the U.S., you can source health insurance through a broker or you can use Healthcare.gov to find a policy that suits you.
Make sure you understand the rules about qualifying events and when you can buy health insurance as well as how much it costs.
Enjoy your time freedom
In my opinion, the biggest advantage to freelancing over working a traditional job remotely is control over your time. You may have to show up for meetings at a specific time. But most freelance work lets you work on your projects when you want to work on them, as long as you get the job done.
This gives you the freedom to go to the gym mid-day or go out to lunch when you want to. For me, time freedom is one of the things that I value the most and it’s one of the big reasons that I work for myself.
If you’ve been thinking about making the jump from remote to freelance work, these tips can help to set yourself up for success. Also, because freelancers typically have multiple clients, freelance work can actually be more secure than working at a job.
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