When you’ve decided you want to become a freelancer, it’s tempting to jack in your 9-5 immediately and start freelancing tomorrow. However, rushing into the freelance lifestyle can leave you unprepared and unable to pay the bills. So, when is the best time to quit your employed job and start freelancing? There are several options, so let’s weigh them up…
Option #1: Walk out the door
The pros: Anyone who has worked in a job they hate has imagined quitting dramatically, walking out of the door, and never coming back—and it might feel liberating. The good thing is you don’t need a reference from your employer because you’re becoming a freelancer. And you’ll have time to devote to freelancing without the burden of a full-time job.
The risk: If you walk out, you probably won’t get your final pay, so don’t be too rash or too brash. It takes a while to build up a steady income as a freelancer, so unless you’ve got a stack of money squirrelled away, you might end up struggling to pay the bills. If you don’t have enough money to rely on while you’re starting out as a freelancer, you’re likely to end up job hunting again pretty quickly.
When to do this:
- You’ve got a lot of money saved up to cushion the low earnings for a few months.
- Or someone who is willing to pay the bills while you get off the ground with your freelance career.
- Or you don’t have any bills to pay because you live with your parents.
Option #2: Work your notice
The pros: If you have a decent notice period, say a few months, you might be able to hand in your notice and start freelancing on weekends and evenings. While the last thing you probably want to do after spending the day at work is more work, it’ll help you build your reputation and top up your savings pot for when you’re a full-time freelancer.
The risk: If you’re working your notice period and decide you don’t like freelancing, there’s no guarantee that you can retract your notice, so you might have to search for another employed job. If you really struggle to get off the ground, a month or two might not be enough time to get established as a freelancer and earn a wage.
When to do this:
- If you have a long notice period to get off the ground with freelancing.
- If you’ve tried and tested the freelance waters and enjoyed it—and have a pot of money saved up.
- If you know your company will take you back if you change your mind.
Option #3: Wait a while
The pros: Taking your time, starting small with freelancing, and continuing to get paid by an employer can be a good bet. It enables you to decide whether freelancing is for you and build up your freelance reputation. It also means you can top up your savings pot until there’s a decent sum in there, so you can survive a few months of not potentially not earning. Then you can take the leap to full-time freelancing when you feel ready.
The risk: When you’re in a comfortable job that pays every month, it can be tempting not to take the leap, and it can seem like no time is the right time. At some point, you just have to go for it, and this can feel very uncertain and uncomfortable. Plus, it can be tiring working on your freelance hustle every weekend and evening for months or even years.
When to do this:
- If you’re really not sure whether freelancing is for you.
- If you need to save a hefty amount to take the leap.
- If you’re happy building your hustle gradually.
Talk to loved ones
A major part of deciding on the best time to freelance involves talking to your loved ones. If you live with other people, you need to be sure they’re happy to cover the bills if you struggle and are okay with you working from home. If they don’t have a stable income either, then freelancing might pose a huge risk—you don’t want to end up defaulting on your rent or mortgage and risking your home.
Save, save, save
Whichever you choose, it’s important to save as much money as you can to cushion your leap to full-time freelancing and cover any patchy spells of earnings. The more money you have saved, the easier the transition to full-time freelancing is, because you can focus on your service offering and not scraping by. Whenever you hand your notice in, be sure it’s the right time for you and that you’ve got some money to rely on until you’re living the freelance dream.
For more freelance tips every week, stay tuned to A Freelance Life!