So you have decided to become a freelancer, be your own boss and cut loose from the apron strings of your permanent job. Sadly, starting out isn’t always as easy as ‘relaxed working locations’ and branded coffee.
Making the transition from a permanent job to becoming a full time IT freelancer can take time. It can be scary, but accepting there will be quite dramatic changes in your normal daily routine will help when the changes come. Prepare to be flexible, and be ready to use skills that are outside of your comfort zone pretty much straight away.
Routine? What routine?
Don’t expect a structured day to reveal itself when freelancing, because with all this flexibility comes the need for you to structure yourself. Plus, as an IT contractor, you’re more than likely used to unexpected problems popping up anyway!
Often you won’t have access to the resources of a permanent job, and there’s not much delegation around when you’re a freelancer. It’s very much a case of rolling up your sleeves and getting the job done.
Freelancing can bring in long hours, or at least, hours you hadn’t planned for your working week.
It’s up to you to structure your own day and be disciplined. Make certain hours ‘off limits’ for work, give yourself a proper lunch break, and avoid the temptation to work through. It’s important for freelancers to protect their mental health.
Reward yourself through a working day, and you’ll be a lot more productive. Stepping away from the laptop for a short period can really help you focus through the day.
Winning new clients and customer service
Would you hire you? Look at your services, freelance brand, and prices. When a client hires the services of an individual IT freelancer, they are normally looking for ad hoc expertise, rather than an employee. They might have already spoken to an agency, only to be scared off by an expensive pricing structure and a rigid approach to the whole process.
Working to your strengths when pitching for work is the most reliable route to winning more jobs. As a freelancer, you can offer something different that larger organisations can’t, so don’t be shy about drawing attention to what makes you unique.
For instance, a more personable approach, and not having to deal with ‘account managers’ can go a long way, and it’s a great way to retain clients (so you don’t need to keep pitching for new business quite so much!)
The IT industry is a fast mover. New technologies are always arriving into the marketplace and, as a freelancer, you can be much more adaptable than a larger firm with the kind of infrastructure that makes it difficult to scale.
Make sure you have plenty of strings to your bow, and carry that knowledge and flexibility to win new business. Look to gain experience of new technologies whenever possible, that kind of experience can be valuable further down the line.