Young Upstarts

All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business.

Transitioning From 9-to-5 To Freelance (Without Losing Your Sanity)

Quitting your regular job for a more flexible freelance gig? You’re not alone. But working on your own can be harder if you don’t know what to expect.

Here are some tips that can help you transition more seamlessly to a new freelance routine.

Be Realistic.

This should be a no brainer, but you can’t expect to be making what you were making at your 9-to-5 after just a week freelancing. In order to keep your sanity, you need to plan as much as you can. Plan, save, and plan—then plan some more! Before you leave your day job, you should be certain that you have a freelance gig you can immediately turn to for some financial security… and then a few more beyond that, just to be safe!

This overlapping period wherein you work your 9-to-5 as well as hustle to gather freelance projects is not going to be an easy feat. It is doable, and a lot of people find success once they stick with it. But it will be a demanding and stressful period in your life as well as any dependents or partners you have. Once you have a game plan, approach your loved ones with the changes they can expect in your routine and your shared lifestyle.

Join a Co-Working Space.

A busy household is not the ideal environment for serious work to be done. When working from home, it is tempting to stop and start work, focus on other things, get distracted…etc. It just feels too “homey!” This is a problem many freelancers face in the beginning.

There are a great number of freelancers for whom working from home works wonders and is their ideal situation. Others will struggle, and when you’re first trying to find your footing as an independent agent within an industry you need to feel and appear as professional as possible to be taken seriously. That’s where coworking spaces come in!

Coworking spaces are shared by a variety of different people. Some may include startups, but most are independent workers and freelancers from a wide variety of industries. A study found that coworking spaces drastically improved the performance and mood of workers when compared to those in conventional office spaces.

Some of these spaces are even collaborative in nature. “Our space was designed to create interaction and collaboration between long term tenants in the building and members on the monthly co-working and shared office rental floor,” says The Collection, a monthly coworking space in Los Angeles, CA.

You can get the perks of working with likeminded individuals without the stress of a competitive office environment or demanding management. Even if the people in your co-working space are not in your industry, they may be able to help you see a project with fresh eyes.

Get Dressed.

If you do decide to work from home, your biggest hurdle will be overcoming the traps laid by your very own mind. It is very easy to fall into that “homebody” trap, wherein you are wearing pajamas day in and day out, getting very little socialization, and working at a much slower pace than you would in a traditional office.

Simply getting a nice pair of khakis on and doing your makeup can be the difference between a productive day and a total waste of time. When you are pitching clients in your pajamas, even though they can’t see you via email, you are going to feel less confident and less professional.

The moral of the story? Put some pants on!

Don’t Expect to Be Your Own Boss ALL the Time.

Sure, you can set your own hours and your own rates, which feels powerful — especially initially as a freelancer. But over time, you will come to understand that you have traded one boss figure for a dozen tinier ones. Just because you are not at your client’s every beck and call does not mean that they are not still calling the shots. After all, they are paying your bills! Making peace with this is the first step to a healthy and fruitful client/freelance relationship.

… But Stand Your Ground, Too.

When you are just getting your toes wet in the world of freelance work, money will be a constant source of anxiety. This is to be expected, but don’t let it cloud your judgment when it comes to your rates or the quality of work that you produce.

There are many, many wonderful clients looking for reliable freelancers to provide them work. This group is intrinsically harder to find in the hordes of greedy and seedy businesses looking for work at dirt cheap prices. These starvation rates are intended to make you desperate, make you believe you MUST work with an unsavory client or for ridiculously low wages, because of the implication that your work is not worth any more than that.

Stand your ground! Calculate your rates, make adjustments according to your skill level and the nature of the work, and stick by them. Unless you trust the client, do not open the floor for negotiation. You are the expert in your interactions, and only you know what your work is truly worth. So act like it!

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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