Going freelance, much like being a digital nomad, also does not happen all at once. If you’re already working a full-time job, don’t even dare thinking of how to become a freelancer because upping and leaving is the stupidest thing you can do! You need to create a solid foundation for yourself in freelancing before you can be a fucking awesome freelancer. There is limited freedom in freelancing at the beginning, and you gotta be strict with yourself. With all these said, how do you become a freelancer while working full time anyway?
If you want to transition successfully and securely, especially with the aim of being a digital nomad, then start early—start now! Knowing where to find these kinda jobs is half the battle. You’ll also need to train yourself to be disciplined AF to accomplish what you want to do so that you produce the best quality work at a pace that suits you.
Here are some tips to help you on how to become a freelancer while working full time.
1. Manage your time wisely.
This is something all digital nomads, freelancers, remote workers, actually lots of us can all get better at. I look at it like exercise. There are 1,440 minutes in a day, you can find 30 to exercise, and you can find 30 to look for jobs, and then work full time. I’m living proof that it’s all doable!
The biggest hurdle is finding time to invest in getting your first freelance projects off the ground. But I believe that if you want something bad enough, you will be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to reach those goals.
If you work eight hours a day in an office, great. Quit the overtime and focus every other waking minute on making your freelance dreams come true. If you’re loaded with work but really really want to start on the digital life, then give up two hours of sleep a day on weekdays and spend time on freelance work on the weekends. #SleepIsForTheWeak
My point is that you need to get shit done, no excuses. Many people say they don’t have time for freelance work, but the truth is you can find time if you really fucking want this.
2. Start small before going on to larger projects.
So, you already know you’re pressed for time, so be realistic with yourself. You’re not gonna be able to have a three-day turnaround on 16 x 500-word blogs that each require half an hour of research. Are you?
My advice? Start small. Look for short-term projects that you can complete quickly, easily, and bloody well done.
Get that awesome feedback rolling in and boost your confidence. Start building relationships with clients so that when you opt into full-time freelancing, you can offer full-time attention to them should they want it.
Slow and steady really does win the race on how to become a freelancer. This stage isn’t amount the money; it’s about laying the groundwork that’ll help you grow.
3. Set realistic deadlines.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to take on massive projects while dealing with the daily stresses and strains of your full-time job.
Give yourself some buffer time. You never know what might come up during a project that takes more time than you think, especially given that you’re just starting out.
I legit believe that it’s better to underpromise and overdeliver. Don’t be the kind of freelancer who wants to desperately please their client that they make wild promises and end up submitting a shitty output.
Remember, this period is going to prepare you for digital nomad life. If you burn out too fast because you weren’t able to be realistic with your tasks, you’ll be home faster than you expected. Not cool.
4. Be upfront about your situation.
It’s best to let your booked clients know that you still have a full-time job in addition to taking on their freelance work. Honesty really is the best policy.
The reason this is important on how to become a freelancer is that you may need to set some boundaries about when they may contact you during the day. For example, if you have a job that ends at 5 p.m, but your freelance client sends you an email at 3 p.m. expecting an immediate reply, it would help if they know that you can only communicate at certain times of the day. To be fair, being upfront about your situation helps you in giving them a clearer picture when you can deliver the promised output.
Again, managing expectations on how to become a freelancer means a happy working relationship. If you’re fucking awesome at what you do and deliver projects when promised, then most clients won’t mind the fact that you may need to take a little longer to accomplish something as opposed to a full-time freelancer who can deliver faster.
5. Build up your client database.
With freelancers, clients may not always be steady, especially in the beginning. If you experience a lull in projects, don’t let it get you down! Seriously! Don’t sweat the small stuff!
Keep searching for more projects, bidding for more work, and checking out more websites. The aim of this life is to make clients come to you instead of the other way around; always remember that! Rather than spending time pitching, perhaps reassess your online portfolio.
For one, you need to build up a good reputation. Ask for reviews or testimonials from previous clients so that potential leads can read them and get to know who you are.
Widen your scope and look through different websites so that you can get some clients from each. Check out my guide to freelance websites for some inspiration! (link to freelancer websites article)
One day you’ll sit back and realize your freelance work is paying just as much (if not more) than your 9-to-5! High fives all ’round!
5. Take breaks.
It’s easy to feel the urge to want to do so many things at once to get the ball rolling. Don’t. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat; burnout and failing to multitask did.
Don’t get over excited when the good times roll. This is the easiest way to get burned out and have everything fall to shit.
The whole point of transitioning to freelance is to have a happier life as a digital nomad. But doing too many things at a time will easily get you burned out and resent the work that you need to do. The exact opposite of what you wanted to do, right?
When you get tired, rest. Don’t quit. Step outside, spend an afternoon at the park or do something (with someone) you love! After that, get back on track. You’re on the right path!
So, these are my tried-and-tested tips on how to become a freelancer while working full time! Remember that the sacrifices you make by juggling full-time and freelance work will definitely pay off in the end. When you have finally booked that one-way plane ticket, you’ll feel so much more secure with the savings in your bank account and the steady stream of potential income that will keep you afloat for as long as you want to be traveling the world. You’ll be fucking awesome, I can feel it.
Need more tips on supporting yourself while being a digital nomad? I’d love to help you out or hear what you think! Drop me a line or comment below!