Part 3: When and How to Move to Independent Freelancing
Becoming an independent freelancer can be a very good thing, as it frees you from having to rely on the whims of website owners and having to compete against a large number of other freelancers on the same site. Theoretically moving to being your own boss will result in substantial improvements in your ability to make profit and also to control what work you do. However, if you want this to actually be the case, it is essential to be careful about when and how you make the move.
It can be tricky to determine exactly when you should move away from working for other websites and clients on those websites to finding your own clients. Certainly, there is no need to make this move all at once, and it is best that you focus on doing both for a while, as building a client base can take time, and it’s likely that things will go wrong at least once.
The most reliable indicator of readiness is your own confidence in your ability and worth. For me, I worked for websites for quite some time before I ever got the confidence to strike out on my own. I was actually at a disadvantage, because I had no idea that it was possible to make money on my own, but it got to the point that I was so frustrated with the sites that I was working for that I had to attempt it and see where it took me.
A second good indicator of whether you are ready to start going on your own is whether you have a body of work behind you. For example, if you are a writer, do you have samples of your work that you can show people? Also, do you know exactly what you want to sell? Are you going to sell generalized writing, editing, resumes and cover letters, professional writing, book editing or something else entirely? These are key questions that you need to ask yourself before you make that first step.
How to go about it
Being independent as a freelancer might sound easy, but there are some significant differences between this and working for other people on websites. One of the most significant differences is that you really have to manage clients much more, particularly as many of the people who want your services may be unreasonable or irrational.
As a person who has just started seeking out and getting their own clients it can be very tempting to let your clients have their way with pretty much everything. However, this isn’t a very effective approach, because you find yourself highly stressed in dealing with some clients and may find that you lose money due to the time it takes to meet the whim of very client.
Furthermore, if you don’t set down some solid ground rules right from the start you won’t seem very professional, and this will make you less likely to get the clients that you really want. Above all else, remember that you are the owner and manager of a business and you should not have to accept any behavior from clients that would not be acceptable within a physical store. In my case, this means that I make absolutely sure I never give clients their work before they pay for it, no matter how much they beg.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help, because there are a lot of people who make their living online, and they have all had good and bad experiences.