Planning for a Freelance Future

My eventual goal is to freelance full time… to wake up in the morning, roll out of bed and walk down the hallway to my office. And while I know that eventually that will require a leap of faith, I’m not the spontaneous, leap-without-looking type.

Although my significant other has said again and again that he’d be willing to handle the bills while I get on the feet freelancing, that’s just not acceptable to me–perhaps that’s because, like so many other women of my generation, I see my independence as a major part of who I am. So while I’m sure he’ll end up taking up some of my slack while I’m getting solidly on my feet, I’m working to make sure that’s for as short a period of time as possible.

Since I figure I still have about two years before I’m ready to consider freelancing full-time, here’s what I’m doing so when I’m ready to take the leap I know I’ll land on my feet:

SAVING. I’ve begun reading a number of financial advice sites like the Simple Dollar and Daily Worth, which advise having at least three months of expenses in an emergency fund (and that’s just for non-freelancers). Since I don’t even have that right now, I’m working to get there–and then I’m hoping to continue saving, so that I can cover the loss in income when I take the plunge.

NETWORKING. Mainly with other freelancers and writers. I have three freelance writer friends in particular, who are each at different steps in their freelance journeys, that I learn a lot from. The first is still working to build her business but is doing an awesome job–I can learn what the first few years will be like by talking to her about what she’s going through. The second has recently reached a point where she’s comfortable in her freelance career; she’s making enough to support her family. Talking to her I see some of what it takes to get to that point and some of the things she feels she did right and wrong. The third has been freelancing for quite some time now and is looking to grow her business–she’s got most of the tactics and tricks down pat. From talking to her I learn what freelancing success looks like (hint: It looks a lot more like running a business and a lot less like working from home).

BUILDING MY PORTFOLIO. I’m freelancing part-time to build up a respectable portfolio. I’m doing occasionally projects for free (like laying out this cookbook, which is sold to raise money for kids with cancer) and am focusing on working with entrepreneurs and small businesses. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of web copy and I’m really starting to like it. Right now I’m working with a photographer on his site (we traded services – check out some of the shots he took!) and love brainstorming with another solo-prenuer.

LEARNING. I’ve grown a lot since first starting this blog, but I know I don’t know it all. I’m constantly reading and asking questions to learn more about my craft–and loving every second of it.

If you’re currently freelancing, what did you do to prepare? Or what do you wish you’d done? If you haven’t started yet, what are you doing?

*Photo Credit: aftab on Flickr.

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