Moving from Full-Time to Freelance: Making the Jump

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More than 53 million Americans are freelancing to earn a living according to a study by Elance/oDesk and the Freelancers Union. That number amounts to slightly over one third of the American workforce. The Millennial generation has stepped into freelancing full throttle with 39 percent of them working from home. Freelancers fall into a few distinct categories, the study found:

  • Independent contractors (40%), people who work on many projects for different clients
  • Moonlighters (27%) who have a regular 9-5 job but make extra money on the side
  • Diversified workers (18%), who have multiple sources of income, such as a part-time doctor’s receptionist who also teaches pilates
  • Temporary workers (10%) who have a single employer for a limited period of time
  • Freelance business owners (5%), who have between one and five employees

Many companies find freelance writers are the best fit for their projects since they don’t need a full-time writer on staff. To become a freelancer, you will need to change your thinking from a full-time mindset to a freelance one. Here are some considerations before you get started:

Freelancing offers several benefits, including a flexible schedule which 42 percent of those surveyed claimed was the reason that they chose a freelance career. However, you may not earn a full-time stable income immediately, so advance preparation will prevent your bank account from dipping into the red. Here is how to get ready:

  • Get your finances in order by:
    • setting up an emergency fund that will pay your bills for six months to a year if you don’t get work immediately
    • beginning a retirement plan if you don’t already have one
    • getting disability insurance
    • getting health insurance unless your spouse can put you on their plan
  • Change your budget and standard of living:
    • New freelancers generally don’t dine out often, but economize instead
    • Put additional earnings into savings for leaner times
    • Calculating what you really need to earn to pay basic expenses will keep you focused

Many freelancers start by gradually working their way into a full-time income while they still have a steady job to support their budget. Working on your freelance career during evenings and weekends will help you build up your savings as well as establish new clients. Building relationships with the right clients can take time, but a good client can send you regular business. Beginning your freelance career this way is a win-win all the way around.

Paula A has been a content writer online since 2008 and right now is trying to figure out how she got old enough to have a 21-year-old daughter.

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