24 May 2017

How To Go Freelance Without Going Broke

how to go freelance, lifestyle blog, Hampshire bloggers, career blog

Many of us will stop pursuing our dreams thanks to just one fear that stops us dead in our tracks: financial stability. When I decided that I wanted to give up my 9-5 office job, I was so excited at the opportunities and how my life would change - but I was terrified about how I'm going to be making a living, and what happens if at first I don't get any clients?
You have to understand that when I left my financially stable job, I didn't have much in my savings account except for a couple of hundred pounds I've managed to save when I finally handed in my notice, I have a house which I'm renting and that rent needs to be paid along with bills, and I have mouths to feed in the form of my animals. The 'money fear' was real. So how on earth do you get the courage to take the leap, and start your own business without going broke in the process?

Well, firstly you need to have the belief that you can do it. Keeping a positive attitude throughout this process is key, and if you don't believe you can do it - the universe won't believe you can do it either. A delusional sense of self confidence and belief goes a long way in these life changing times. So now we've got the right attitude, let's talk about practical things.

Don't decide to go freelance or start your business in a moment of passion and rush to hand in the notice for your 9-5 job. I have been thinking for years about going freelance, planning my business strategy, building up confidence and knowledge, and also building a client base. Confession time - I have once before tried to go freelance 'on a whim' and trust me, it didn't work out because I didn't have the right tools, or knowledge, or paying clients! I ended up back in a 9-5 office after only a couple of months. It's great following coaches who promise to take you from £0-£10,000 in 3 months but the reality is - it's going to take some time to build your business and turn a profit.
And this time I really wanted to make it work, so whilst I was balancing a 9-5 (which we all know is never 9-5, more like 8-8) I worked really hard on my blog, found paying clients who I could contract with for a couple of hours a week, went to networking events, and started to position myself as a freelancer on social media and also on my website. I collaborated with local creatives and worked on some projects for pennies, so I could build up my portfolio. I worked more than I ever did in my life because after my office job was over, my freelancing work started. But you know what? It took me 5 months from the concrete decision of leaving my job to be able to leave and embark on my journey, thanks to all the hard background work I put in.

As a freelancer you quickly learn that some months you land a job which will pay your bills and more - and some months you'll end up eating pasta for weeks because you don't know when the next pay check is coming in. So if you have savings - great, you'll end up using them. If you don't, you need to learn not to spend your earnings monthly but start squirrelling away your money for months when work isn't coming in. It's all about balance - and I've had to learn the hard way to say 'no' to going out to dinners with friends, going shopping, or even going out for drinks. You have to accept that your social life might suffer when you start your own business because our 9-5 friends don't understand that as freelancers we don't have a 'payday' as such. Even if you try and invoice your clients at the end of the month, I can tell you now that at least 50% of them won't pay you on time. So you have to think of the worst, and ensure your bank account is never empty. I've had dreamy months when I've landed several big campaigns - but I've also had months when I had my smaller accounts which just pay my monthly bills, and in the same time my car broke down, I had a water leak and my bill was in the hundreds, and my bank account incurred charges. True story, shit happens - and you have to be prepared for it.

In your first months, and even more importantly as you grow, you need to be proactive in finding work and new clients. To be profitable, your client base needs to grow and projects need to be filling up your diary. Networking events are a great way to find local clients and make brands aware you are working close to their HQ's. Social media is your best friend - share your latest projects, news, and offers with all of your followers, you never know who's looking for help you can offer.

And before I forget, if you are in the creative industry don't forget that you can save a hell of a lot of money on marketing by producing your own materials! Design your leaflets, logos, websites, business cards - wherever you can save money and get creative with DIY then do it. Or, collaborate with other creatives in your area in an agreement you can both benefit from.

So, in summary here are my tips on how to go freelance without going broke:

1. Have a plan before you leave your stable 9-5 job: that plan needs to include savings, clients, and how to build your business

2. Put in the hard work in making your plan happen whilst you're still in full time work - contract a couple of clients who will pay your basic bills, this is very important

3. Keep an eye on your bank account and remember that some months will be better than others - especially at the start of your freelance journey

4. Always be proactive in finding new clients, telling people about what you do, and sharing your latest news and offers online

5. Create as much of your own marketing as possible, and collaborate with local creatives on mutually beneficial partnerships

Now I'd love to hear from you guys - so many of you tell me you want to go freelance but something is stopping you. Is financial stability the main reason you haven't gone freelance yet?
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9 comments

  1. I always find your blog posts so helpful and informative! x

    www.natalieleanne.com

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    1. Thank you Natalie! :) I'm glad that you're enjoying the posts - let me know if you have a specific question or topic you'd like to see on DR! xo

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  2. Those are really helpful tips Lana. I think I'm still afraid and it's all down to the confidence thing. I'm awful at saying I'm good at something and networking events scare me.

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    1. Thank you Debbie! Networking scared me too at first but once you get through the first one you'll see they're more fun than frightening. Especially if they're informal coffee mornings! xo

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  3. This is incredible, thanks for sharing some useful tips. My ultimate goal is to go freelance so this has given me the boost I needed xxx

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    1. Thank you lovely - glad you found these tips useful! You'll do it - if you have your heart set on going freelance you will get there :) xo

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  4. I'm currently doing my best to hustle hard while working the 9-5 job in the hope I'll go freelance one day - just doing the background work for now! :) xxx

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    1. And that's what it's all about - keep on doing what you're doing, and when you're ready you'll know to take the leap! xo

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  5. Yes financial stability is definitely one. I have a start up business that would love to take me on for one day a week but that's just not enough to start. I'm just yearning for the freedom and positive impact being freelance can give. This post is definitely really helpful!! Thank you xo

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