If you’ve decided that you are done working for someone else and want to take a stab at the lucrative world of freelancing, there are some things you should consider first!
Most of the time, amazing freelance opportunities don’t fall out of the sky in a consistent manner. Your income will fluctuate – especially in the beginning. This is why an emergency savings safety net is crucial.
Every household should have three to six months of essential living costs tucked away, but if you are a freelancer, you may want to learn towards six. Figure out how much it will cost to cover your basic necessities and before you put in your notice, save up!
Get Started Early
It’s a risky move to quit your full-time job and then start freelancing from scratch. Spend some time moonlighting and building up a client base before taking the leap. You may also want to consider going part-time at your current job (if you are able) as a kind of a soft transition.
Health Insurance (Is Expensive)
Unfortunately, health insurance tends to be very expensive, especially for U.S.-based freelancers. Make sure you do the numbers and understand exactly how much healthcare will cost you.
Depending on your living situation, you may be just covering yourself or also covering dependents. Covering a whole family can be astronomically expensive. So be ware and research first!
Save for Retirement
It’s not good enough to just make enough money to live off of. Eventually, you will need money for retirement. Be sure to open an IRA and contribute to it regularly. Roll over any 401k you may have from your full-time job and do your best to max out your contributions each year.
As your income grows, consider hiring a financial advisor to help you make the best decisions for your money.
Your Clients Will Pay Late
One huge adjustment to the switch is losing the predictable pay days. You may finish a big job and get a windfall one month and then not get paid at all the next. You’ll need to be very careful with how you spend your money.
Clients are also notorious for paying late. Always have clients sign a contract with a 30 day guarantee on payments, and it may make sense to ask for a percentage up front.
Don’t worry about asking for money up front – you are a professional, and professional freelancers have contracts and ask for deposits.