Moving from permanent employment to freelance work can seem quite daunting, and there are some risks involved. Here we take a look at some tips to help you make the move.
Freelancing can be an appealing option for dads once you have a few years’ experience under your belt. It’s an option for all kinds of work in the UK including journalism, IT, recruitment, copywriting, marketing, video, web design and many more professions. It’s particularly attractive to working parents because many freelancers have a more flexible working style. They are often home-based, can work around school or nursery runs and can manage their own hours.
Here are some tips on how to successfully make the move.
Be aware that it might take a while for your money to start coming in. Not only will you have to find your first clients, but even once the work’s done you’ll need to wait for each invoice to be paid. Freelancers charge more than the equivalent of a full time salary because they have to cover sickness, holiday and quiet times in their fees. Lots of freelancers wait until they have saved up enough money to cover 3-4 months of no income before getting started. A lot of people make the move after redundancy for the same reason. You could also look into a loan: but you’d need to present a robust business plan explaining how you’ll repay it.
For many freelancers it’s as simple as buying a new laptop and getting some business cards. But if you’re in a more technical field you might need expensive software or a full home-office set up. Factor that in to your financial planning, as again it could take you a while to cover these costs.
Some freelancers manage to walk into work pretty quickly through their existing contacts, but if you need to start from ground zero in finding freelance jobs, this takes some focus and planning. Be clear about who your target audience is and what you have to offer them. Will you need to create a brand for yourself?
You’ll almost certainly need a website to attract those looking to hire freelancers. There are lots of online tools to help you create a simple website yourself, or you could work with an agency to create something appealing but budget-friendly. Once you have a strong proposition and a website, work on a plan to reach your audience.
Think about direct email, LinkedIn and other social channels, local advertising and attending relevant business events. There are also freelancing websites for many types of work, so this is worth a bit of research.
Personal recommendation is the most powerful marketing tool there is. List out people you’ve worked with in the past, together with friends, family and other contacts that might be able to help you or recommend you. Chat to other parents about their jobs: many a business relationship has started at football practice or nursery pick-up.
In the early stages of freelancing it doesn’t pay to be picky. Even veteran freelancers find it hard to turn work down, in case it deters the client from returning in future. While one job might not pay what you were hoping for, it could lead on to other things. So find reasons to say yes, instead of ways to say no.
And also say yes to non-work invitations. If you’re moving to freelance from full time work, try to enjoy your new-found freedom. Meet a friend for a drink or a game of squash in work time. Soon you could be too busy to enjoy the downtime, and regret not taking the chance when you had it.
Enjoy your freelance adventure!