Various circumstances can cause a former full-time employee to find herself suddenly freelancing as a full-time profession. Late last year, I had begun planning my smooth full-time to freelance transition and saw myself just about ready to give my employer a full month’s notice.
At the beginning of December (just two business days before I planned on handing in that one month’s notice), I found myself involved in two car accidents within three days of each other. With minor injuries, I had the option to collect disability from my full-time employer, but learned that I would be unable to legally collect any freelance income in addition to my disability earnings. Even freelancing part-time, I knew I’d be able to make more than the disability paid, so I quit the job rather suddenly after sending in documentation about the accidents.
The transition was abrupt even though I had already begun preparations. Here’s what I learned immediately after my sudden transition:
An abrupt transition isn’t easy. Different circumstances might have been better, but life had something else in mind. Car accidents, job losses, recessions, sudden relocation for a spouse’s higher-paying job or an ill family member needing care-these things happen and they don’t happen gracefully. Accept it and move forward.
Communicate with existing clients. Be candid but professional with clients about your situation; if they have more work and approve of your previous work, they’ll give it to you.
Communicate with family members. An abrupt transition likely means that you have other things going on emotionally and you’re probably stressed. Communicate with your family members to let them know that you need time and space to work, but don’t afraid to ask for support when you need it.
Once these primary steps have been handled, here’s what you need to do to freelance in a flash.
Assess your finances using estimates. You need to get working, and fast. Do a rough estimate and re-budget if necessary. You can revisit this in time, but for the moment, you’ll need to find out if there’s any money available for your start-up costs.
Get what you need. Folders, paperclips or even a new color printer-certain things are essential for a full-time freelancer. Make a quick list and do a one-stop shopping trip at the least expensive office supply store. Get that rewards card if you don’t have one already. Save those receipts-even if that means stuffing them hurriedly into a folder for now, and stick to essentials only.
Take on a full workload and keep looking. If you can, don’t take a large amount of time off, even if you can afford it financially (in my case, I only took a few days’ recovery time with minor injuries before I was freelancing). The best remedy for a job loss or sudden change at this point is the reliability of your favorite clients.
Get to work. Once you know you are actually able to freelance full-time, …