Is it Time to Go Full-Time Freelance? Three Ways to Know for Sure.
Now more than ever, it’s a freelancer’s world and corporate America is just living in it. For people who have long dreamt of taking the plunge into freelancing and ditching their 9-5, there’s never been a better time to do so. That’s why I did it: Burnt out on the traditional workforce and having just been laid off from my full-time job, I realized I had the ability to become a full-time solopreneur and made the leap.
There’s no denying there are benefits to being a full-time freelancer. For me, it’s about flexibility: the ability to care for my family and pursue my passions. But for many people – myself included – giving up the security the 40-hour workweek provides is daunting. And on the flip side, there’s a lot of hype out there around full-time freelancing that can feel downright absurd and leave you wondering if making that change is even worth it.
If you overthink it, it can feel like a rock and a hard place decision. But it doesn’t have to be. So how do you know if it’s truly time to go full-time freelance? And is it really worth the risk? Let’s break it down with three questions you should consider before you take the leap.
Question 1: What does your runway look like?
If you lost or quit your job today, how many months would you be able to sustain yourself without any additional income? That answer is your runway, or the amount of financial leeway you can safely grant yourself before you run out of money and have to find a solution.
When I jumped into full-time freelancing, my runway was about three months, but there’s a caveat: I lived with my parents as a part-time caretaker, so my rent, utilities, and part of my food budget was taken care of. If I had to support myself vis a vis housing and other living expenses, I likely would have had to seek out a full-time job immediately after losing my last one.
Because everyone’s financial situation is different, the amount of runway you feel you need to have is going to differ from person to person, but having a clear timeline in mind is the first step to getting comfortable with this newfound freelance-only position. I’m not going to tell you what’s right or wrong for you – I’m not your mother, accountant, or bank account – but think carefully about how much runway you need to comfortably sustain yourself without stress.
Question 2: How will you enter the freelancer marketplace?
When I took the leap from part-time freelancer to full-time, it was partially by accident. I was laid off from my full-time job in mid-2020, but freelancing had been my side hustle for about five years at this point, so I worked with those clients while hunting for work. A girl’s gotta pay the bills!
Then I realized that, by converting two long-time clients to retainer-based clients who paid me a fixed rate on a monthly basis, I could take the freelancing thing full-time. Those two retainers were enough to support me and my lifestyle every month, so I was comfortable in ditching my full-time job search and never looking back.
All of that is to say that I stepped into full-time freelancing fully confident in my client base and my ability to bring in enough money to support myself. But if you want to go freelance and are starting from step one without clients or connections, be sure you have the knowledge and connections to do so. Making a plan for your big freelancer debut is essential to ensuring your success.
Question 3: What’s stopping you?
Think about the answer to this question honestly, because this is how you’re going to beat back your fear and insecurity surrounding this huge life change.
If you’re afraid of financial instability, maybe freelancing on the side while you still work your 9-5 is the right choice for you. If you’re worried about the opinions of your friends and family, surround yourself with people who will encourage you as you embark on this new adventure. No matter your insecurities or worries, there is a way to combat them through action.
When I first started my one-woman content writing and editing business, I was worried that I would somehow be looked down upon by my career-focused peers or my family members who always cheered on my childhood ambition. Once I identified that as the source of my own insecurity, I was able to alter my thought processes and empower myself to seek out my own success, rather than care about what other people thought of what I chose to do with my life.
Whether you’ve been freelancing on the side for some time now and are ready to make it a full-time gig or you’re burnt out on the 9-5 lifestyle and looking for a bit more flexibility, there is a way to know when you’re ready to become a full-time freelancer. By considering your runway, your network, and your own resilience, you’ll be able to enter the freelancer marketplace with the confidence you need to succeed and thrive.
[Related: Want a Smooth Transition Into Hybrid Work?]
Amanda Lien is a freelance marketing and PR content writer and editor who works with C-level executives, award-winning PR firms, and small businesses to create engaging ghostwritten content. See what she can do at amandajlien.com.
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Content Writer and Editor
Amanda Lien is a freelance marketing and PR content writer and editor who works with C-level executives, award-winning PR firms, and small businesses to create engaging ghostwritten content. When she's not writing for her clients, she's writing fiction for a grade as part of her MFA program. See what she can do at https://amandajlien.com Continue Reading
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