So you want to be a freelancer — think it’s all pjs and cat videos on the Internet? News Flash: It’s so much more than that.
I just launched my own company and it has been one wild ride.
This may not be the path for everyone, but if you think it’s for you, here’s a bit of freelancing 101 to get you started.
1. Get at least one solid income stream. Do not underestimate the solid income stream that is a salaried position. If you’re lucky enough to have a partner, this may not be an issue for you right away, but it is important to start freelancing while working your 9-to-5 so that you can start to put away some cash to get you through the leaner months.
2. Just do it. You can spend days, weeks, months… years, even, preparing for the “right time” to quit your job, but the best way to do it? Just do it. Figure out what “one solid income stream” means for you, your family and your budget and then do everything in your power to make it happen.
3. Use your network. If you’re like most journalists and PR pros you already have tons of leads. Figure out the best way to connect with these peers (or, in most cases, reconnect) and share your new position with them. Be honest and make it more informational than “pitch.” Remember how much you hate being pitched? Don’t do it. Instead, share information and say “if you know of anyone looking for X” — chances are they do know someone and will share your information.
4. Use what you have. If you’re trying to create your own PR firm or venturing out on your own while still in a field that could, potentially, have a conflict of interest, it’s important to use the other skills you have to create that solid stream of income. Maybe you’re a PR pro who loves to write — start freelance writing, first. Maybe you’re a journalist who wants to do media training, start working with students to help mentor them for on-camera positions. Take one day and sit down to think about every skill you have in your current job and how it can be applied to two, five or ten other jobs. This will allow you to reduce the “conflict of interest” possibilities AND get started on your solo journey.
5. Brand it. Create a new name for your venture. Even if you’re just going to be a freelance writer, having a company name can help you separate the venture from your full-time pursuits until you’re ready to give those up.
Building a side hustle while working full-time isn’t easy but it will give you the options you need to succeed. As a print journalist living in a digital world, I’ve found that options are the only thing that allows me to continue to move forward. As a consultant, options are what help my clients move their digital brands forward and, ultimately, what helps me get more clients and grow my company.
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