A lot of people say they want to freelance but don’t know how to get started. If you’re one of them, think about what you really want.
From what I’ve seen, a lot of you aren’t interested in starting. What you really want is a way to jump in mid-game. You want to know where or how to find freelancing-in-a-box, that ready-made starter kit that you unpack and go from observer to pro.
That’s not how it works.
Finding jobs, getting hired and setting rates—those things aren’t the starting point for becoming a freelancer. The first step is making sure you’re built for this.
If you apply for even the most menial job, the person hiring will do some type of assessment to determine whether you’re right for the job. But people want to skip this step with freelancing.
People assume they can be successful freelancers because it’s what they want to do. They don’t give any real consideration to what it takes or whether they have what it takes, which is simple-minded.
The Freelancer’s Fitness Test
If you’re really serious about freelancing or make a living off your creative talent, start by setting a personal goal and see if you can achieve it. Commit to running a mile in the morning, completing an online course or whatever.
I’m not going to say exactly what your goal should be. Partly because I don’t know you. But more importantly, because one of the main traits you’ll need as a freelancer is the ability to choose the course and the strategy and to get the expected results without being told what to do or how to do it.
But whatever your goal is, it should be a real challenge, not something you’ll easily accomplish. It should be something that requires you to devote time and it should be measurable. That way you can determine if you hit your target.
Say you choose jogging. Set the number of miles or hours you expect to complete in 30 or 60 days. If you’re taking a course, make it one that runs for a set length of time with an exam at the end.
If you don’t achieve your goal the first time, try again. And keep trying until you succeed.
I know this is not what you want to hear. And you may be saying what the f*** does this have to do with freelancing?
Consider it a freelancing fitness test. Setting a personal goal is a good way to determine if you’re a slacker or a quitter. Because if you are, freelancing really isn’t for you. Freelancers have to be self-starters. They have to be driven, motivated and determined.
So before you get bold and quit your job or tell your parents, partner or sugar daddy to kiss your rump, you should test your self-discipline and your ability to persevere.
Even if you have the potential to be an awesome freelancer, testing yourself with a goal will help you weed out bad habits, like making excuses and procrastinating. It’s best to stomp them out before you try to survive off of a lifestyle that doesn’t have perimeters and consequences.
It’s not as easy or smooth as you may think to transition from being an employee to being self-employed. And it’s definitely not easy to go from having financial support to living solely off of freelancing income.
People drastically underestimate the mental preparation it takes to succeed as a freelancer. In some cases, that’s sad because it’s the downfall of talented people who really have a shot to do this and do it well.