by Travis Fleming | Feb 14, 2020
Freelancing is a great way to supplement your income and make some extra money on the side. However, many contractors take it one step further and decide to make freelancing their full-time career.
Most professionals have likely considered becoming a full-time freelancer at one point or another. But it can be a bit intimidating to strike out on your own and leave behind the security of a corporate job and a regular paycheque. That being said, there a number of skilled individuals who are freelancing full-time and doing extremely well.
So, just how do you become a full-time freelancer? Here are seven tips to help you transition from an office job to running your own freelance business.
Start by Freelancing Part-Time
If you haven’t started freelancing already, the first step is to begin doing it part-time. The great thing about freelance work is that you can do it whenever you like and as often as you like. You can pick up projects when you have time and make some extra money while you continue to work at your 9-5 job.
Not only will this help you get comfortable doing freelance work, but it will also allow you to build up your contacts, portfolio, and recommendations. That way, when you’re finally ready to go full-time you’ll have a solid foundation to build off of.
Secure Some Recurring Clients
The hardest part of becoming a full-time freelancer is getting regular work. Unlike when you work for an employer, you can’t always depend on a steady income. Some months you may have more work than you know what to do with, while other months might be relatively quiet.
One way to ensure you always get enough hours is to secure some recurring clients. These are clients who want to have an ongoing relationship with you and will continue to give you work each month.
These types of clients will be the foundation of your business, so search for opportunities that offer recurring work. But don’t be afraid to take on-off jobs either. Oftentimes, short-term contracts can turn into long-term working relationships if you do exceptional work.
If you can build up a few recurring clients you’ll be in a much better position when you decide to start freelancing full-time.
Save Some Money Before Making the Transition
As we just talked about, a freelancer’s income isn’t always steady. Your work hours will fluctuate throughout the year, with some months being slower than others.
One way to protect yourself against this is to have some savings set aside before becoming a full-time freelancer. This will give you some money to fall back on during those leaner months. It will also help support you during the early stages when you’re still building up your business.
It’s a good idea to have some money set aside for expenses before you decide to start freelancing full-time.
Photo by Alexander Mils from Pexels.
If you’re thinking of transitioning into freelancing full-time it’s a good idea to have three months’ worth of expenses saved up.
Consider Health Insurance
If you currently work for a larger company you probably have health insurance through your employer. However, once you quit your job to become a full-time freelancer you’ll be responsible for all of your own medical bills.
So, before you take the plunge into freelancing you’re going to want to think about health insurance. Luckily, there are a number of insurance options for those who are self-employed.
The first thing you should look into is whether you’re covered under your spouse or partner’s health insurance plan. Or you can see if you’re able to convert your current health insurance from a group plan to an individual plan. The Freelancers Union also offers health insurance options for freelancers.
Health insurance can be pricey, so if you’re not covered under your spouse or partner’s plan make sure to leave room in your monthly budget for it.
Quit Your Job When You’re Ready
If your goal is to become a full-time freelancer then at some point you’re going to have to take the leap and quit your job. Make sure to wait until you’ve built up your freelance business and have enough savings in place before taking this step.
There’s no shame in taking your time. Some people might make the transition in a few months while others may wait years. You may also decide to do it in stages, reducing your hours with your employer while you gradually build up your freelancer clientele. Do whatever feels right to you.
Make sure to leave your job on good terms so you don’t burn any bridges.
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels.
Finally, make sure to leave your job on good terms. If you’ve done good work for your employer they can be a reference for you in the future. It’s also not uncommon for a previous employer to offer you freelance work down the road, so be sure not to damage the relationship when you leave.
Set Money Aside for Taxes
Another thing you have to think about once you’re self-employed is taxes. When you work for an employer they automatically deduct a certain percentage off each paycheque and put it towards your taxes. However, once you work for yourself it’s up to you to make sure you have enough money set aside for taxes.
It’s a good idea to set aside a certain percentage of each payment you receive. How much you’ll have to pay will depend on your yearly earnings, so research your local tax laws to determine how much you’ll potentially owe.
To make sure you always file your taxes correctly it’s a good idea to hire a professional accountant. They can review your income, deductions, and other important information every year to ensure you always follow the proper procedures.
Raise Your Rates as Demand for Your Services Grows
As a full-time freelancer, you’re in charge of giving yourself a raise, so don’t short-change yourself. Keep raising your rates as your business grows to ensure you’re valuing your time correctly and maximizing your profits.
If you’ve been working for a client for a while and have consistently delivered high-quality work there’s nothing wrong with asking for a higher rate. This is especially true if you’re receiving better offers from other clients.
And if you get to the point where you’re receiving so much work you’re having to turn some of it down it’s a good sign it’s time to increase your rates. Some of those offers will likely go away, but the clients you’re left with will be the ones that value your time the most.
Start Your Freelance Journey on Work for Impact
Work for Impact is a new freelance platform that offers jobs solely from socially and environmentally responsible organizations, and nonprofits. We give freelancers access to a wide range of impactful clients from around the world, making it the perfect place to start your freelance journey.
Article originally published at Work for Impact blog.
By Leah Ryder on January 16, 2019
It happens to even the most experienced remote workers. Actually, it happens especially to those who have worked from home for a while. You land an amazing remote job, set up your home office with a customized desk setup, and get settled with ease. Over time, however, you become a little too settled. It’s been three days since you left your house and the fridge is empty—not that you’ve noticed, because you haven’t taken a proper lunch break in months. And when was the last time that you wore anything other than that same hoodie?
According to the Owl Labs 2019 State Of Remote Work report, US-based remote employees tend to work more than the standard 40 hours per week—that's 43% more than on-site workers. And while working at home can help people be more productive, there is also an increased threat of loneliness and impostor syndrome, which can lead to risks of depression and burnout.
Indeed, reaching peak “hermit” lifestyle as a remote worker goes beyond the pyjama jokes. These serious risks can be exacerbated simply because you’re not held accountable by physical means like the janitor turning out the lights.
I’ve been working remotely now for nearly five years. For me, part of adapting to this incredibly rewarding lifestyle was about learning to take more accountability for major life habits, like keeping active, having a balanced diet, and nurturing rewarding relationships with a distributed team. These are the pillars of a long and rewarding remote work career.
Beyond the fundamentals, however, a truly great day at the home office is about the little things.
After all, you have so much opportunity to craft a great environment, work according to your ideal schedule, and live a life without wasted commute time! Keeping your day interesting, without putting too much pressure on perfection, is what’s really important.
To stave off that “stuck” feeling when working remotely, here are a few quirky, small-yet-mighty, perhaps even weird, ways to inject a little fun, happiness, and socialization into your day.
7 Weird Ways To Stay Balanced When Working From Home
1. Plan your outfit for the day the night before. The “work” part of working from home is important. It may seem silly to plan an outfit to wear at home, but you’ll avoid the rut of wearing uninspiring hoodies and stretchy pants on repeat. Also set the coffee on a timer and set aside your lunch, or make a plan for nourishing snacks and meals.
Treating your work day like you would if you were going to an office ensures you're up, dressed, and well fed all day long. You’ll be ready for anything, including accepting a last-minute coffee date with a friend or dropping into a video chat with your boss. As Henry Ford wisely said: “Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.” Of course, what constitutes feeling “ready” is up to you, but you should always make your bed. It also means you can use your morning routine for other things!
2. Use your morning routine for demanding pleasures.The next step is to get your brain moving in the morning—and moving in the right (read: positive and productive) direction at that.
Author Ayn Rand has been famously quoted as defining a demanding pleasure as something enjoyable that “uses one’s mind.” She goes on to point out that it should be something that requires “discrimination, judgement, awareness” rather than something that requires problem-solving. Avoid early onset decision fatigue by keeping routine choices and chores to a minimum, and choose personally productive pastimes instead.
Whatever you choose, the activities should be interesting and rewarding so that you’re motivated to get up and do them every day, with a dash of new learnings or the use of creativity. Personally, I like to switch things up between reading and writing on personal projects, accompanied by a short morning meditation, a walk with my dog, and a rotating set of new smoothie recipes.
3. Set a rule for going out in public.This is not a joke. Especially when the weather takes a turn for the worst, it is surprisingly easy to hunker down and only venture out for the occasional supply run. Even if it’s an easy goal to hit for you, setting a rule that you’ll go out to a public place (that’s not the grocery store) at least "once every 24 hours" will help you remember to actually do it.
Here’s an easy win: The best thing you can do is use your non-commute time in the morning to go walk outside and get some fresh air. Regular, moderate, exercise is directly correlated to an increase in productivity, and according to Harvard Business Review, is a key factor in helping you achieve a better work-life balance.
4. Always be building playlists.Listening to new music is good for the brain, because it activates the center that makes us feel rewarded and excited. However, research has shown that most of us slow or stop discovering new music altogether by age 30!
In fact, data from US Spotify and Echo Nest users revealed that, by age 33, it is likely that a listener will never listen to new music again. Stop the slowdown and listen to Youtube or Spotify with one ear for new tracks. New music keeps you receptive to learning new things, and having a "side project" of mixing playlists gives you constructive energy in a low-key way all day. Plus you can share them with your friends!
5. Place things that need attention out of reach.Taking breaks is a key part of productivity, but it’s too easy to skip them when you’re alone. To avoid permanently bonding to your home office chair, try building regular “required” breaks into your environment:
Overall, if you’re bad at getting up from your desk regularly, build simple movements into your day in 20-30 minute intervals with things that break your concentration and say, “Hey, you should get up and do this thing for a few minutes.” Once you get there, give that thing a few minutes of concentration to make it a true mini-break.
6. Watch Netflix. Seriously.Four different studies have found results that that “parasocial” relationships in your favorite shows, or one-sided relationships that you watch on screen rather than participate in, can create real feelings of social surrogacy. What that means is: Watching an episode of The Office when you’re feeling a little down can help you feel less lonely and gives you an experience of feeling like you belong.
7. Keep going to the same coffee shop, dog park, or fitness class.You can do all of the above and still be missing one key ingredient to a more balanced remote work life: other people.
We fundamentally need other people to survive for our emotional wellbeing and even to live a longer, healthier life. It’s truly becoming harder to have meaningful interactions with other people: A report from Cigna found that only half of respondents had a meaningful in-person social interaction each day. On the bright side, science has figured out exactly how to make new friends, and it turns out that all it takes is time.
Research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships calculated that it takes an average of 50 hours with someone before they feel like a casual friend, another 40 hours to become real friends, and a total 200 hours before you’ll ask them to be in your wedding party. So start frequenting places or events that attract the same people on a routine basis, make an effort to chat with those folks, and you’ll have a new crew in no time!
Work Like No One’s Watching
If you do find yourself in a remote work rut, the best thing to do is have a little compassion for yourself and then try something new. Or, if you’re like me, just dance in your office—it’s not like anyone can see you!
Remote work can give you the freedom of flexibility, time, and a creative space you can call your own. Take advantage of it, and develop your own weird habits to create a daily experience that’s rewarding and, well, worth working for.
This article was updated as of March 2020
Article originally published at Trello Blog.
Even big companies struggle with innovation. Take, for example, Gerber’s 1970's attempt to penetrate the adult food market. Instead of developing a new line with its own unique distribution strategy, the baby food brand re-labeled existing pureed products and simply placed them in a different aisle. Or, more recently, look to the flop of Pizza Hut’s ill-fated “Flavors of Now” campaign, which failed spectacularly to drive sales.
Many entrepreneurs strike gold with their first line of products, only to run out of steam when it’s time to expand. Companies that continuously get product innovation right have a certain number of factors and resources in place to encourage free thinking. Sometimes, it just takes the right partner to bring an idea from a rough concept to full design. Here are some ways to improve product innovation in your business.
CREATE A CULTURE THAT CELEBRATES FAILURE
No one wants to fail, but fear of failure prevents employees from taking risks and pushing boundaries of product innovation. “A recent Gallup study found that only 18% of U.S. employees strongly agree they can take risks at work that could lead to important new products, services or solutions. When the remaining 82% of employees cannot take individual entrepreneurial action, it prevents companies from realizing the benefits of their innovation agenda,” write the Gallup experts.
It’s often said that there are no bad ideas, and that’s a great rule of thumb for sparking innovation. McKinsey advises to take this thinking a step further: “you should also encourage the truly impractical in some situations—for example, when conducting scenario-planning exercises to unearth potential competitive threats.” Pie-in-the-sky ideas can lead to actionable and innovative ideas that can be executed. Just look at how dozens of products we use each day came from NASA’s space exploration research and experimentation.
CREATE SPACE FOR PRODUCT INNOVATION BRAINSTORMING
It’s difficult to think creatively while working in the same routine day in and day out. Companies that don’t make time and space for product innovation will continue running a business as usual.
A hackathon is one way to encourage employees to set aside their day-to-day tasks in favor of product innovation. “Companies far outside the tech world are using these intense brainstorming and development sessions to stir up new ideas on everything from culture change to supply chain management,” writes Harvard Business Review. Involve members from all teams in your company, not just your product team or tech team. Some companies choose a particular topic to inspire innovation; others see what their employees choose to work on, and learn insights from their approach.
Other companies encourage product developers and scientists to pursue passion projects on company time. They invest in their employees by offering training, workshops, and professional development. Google, for instance, follows the 70/30/10 model:
70% of projects are dedicated to Google’s core business
20% of projects are related to Google’s core business
10% of projects are unrelated to Google’s core business
The 10% of projects that are unrelated to Google’s core business inevitably lead to some insight, invention, or innovation that impacts the brand’s bigger goals. And, their employees are happier and more engaged with their work in the process.
GET SOME OUTSIDE HELP
Sometimes, all it takes to spark a new idea is an outsider’s perspective. Find a partner like Gembah who can review your initial designs and take them from a quick sketch to a full mock-up and 3D model. They can also advise on factors such as manufacturing feasibility, budget, sustainability, and import/export.
Outside help can also come from your customers. Don’t be shy about asking your loyal customers for their input on what products to develop next. Turn to your social media channels to ask your followers what they want to see next. If you have a rewards program or loyalty program, invite your best customers to an exclusive event where you can get their feedback about your brand. If you’re not comfortable or willing to go to your customers, mine their data for behavioral insights or buying patterns that can indicate where the market is going next. Trend watchers like Mintel can help you innovate based on data from your target audience.
This article is originally posted on Gembah.
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