How to Jump-Start Your Career as a Freelancer

Working as a salaryman and receiving a steady flow of income may not be the right choice for everybody.

Sometimes priority and limited time make people choose to become a freelancer, e.g. a housewife who wants to spend more time with her small children, or someone who wants to travel across Indonesia while writing a book.

Everything will not look easy when you make a decision to quit your full-time job and become a freelancer. LiveOlive talks to Ani Berta, a blogger and freelance writer, who has started her journey as a freelancer three years ago.

Here are some tips that would be very useful for anyone who has similar aspirations like Ani:

1. Develop your skill further

Ani decided to become a freelancer because her writing hobby has turned into her passion. Before she put herself into the market, she took several workshops and training to improve her writing skill.

"Not only that, learning can also be done by meeting a lot of people. That way, I could build my network as well," she explains.

During the first months of being a freelancer, do not hesitate to offer your service or product at "introductory price" to allow more people to know your work and understand your quality.

2. Enlarge your network

"I always try to help any friend who needs help in running an event or writing a non-commercial content. I also keep good relationships with brands or agencies who invited me, without expecting any returns," Ani explains.

A large network would be able to help secure a handful of projects for you. Build your network based on mutual friendships, not simply because you want something out of it. Fake attitudes can only take you so far, but it will make you feel uncomfortable and eventually drop your quality of work.

As a start, join several communities that compliment the service that you offer, both online and offline.

[Read: 4 Great Websites to Find Side Jobs]

3. Prepare your first project

Being a freelancer does not mean you should not have a regular schedule like people who work in an office space. The transition should be followed by a detailed plan, and you have to be more disciplined because no one would arrange your schedules.

Set up your daily routines, e.g. if you want to work from 09:00 to 16:00, you can divide the hours based on the output that you want to generate that day. You can also prepare a Plan B in case there is an unexpected situation, e.g. when your child gets sick.

"I set my own working schedule as if I am going to an office. There is no slacking just because no one is watching," says Ani, adding that six months prior to her resignation, she already had a comprehensive plan about the project that she will work on – a web portal that she would maintain together with her three friends.

4. Adjust your budget and emergency fund

Unlike people who are employed and able to manage their spending based on their permanent income, a freelancer must be able to manage their fluctuating income so that they can continue paying their monthly bills.

This means one has to prepare an emergency fund more than the amount when he or she is still working for a company – around 8-12 months of monthly expenditure. An emergency fund will keep you away from debt when an unexpected thing happens, and replace your salary while you are waiting for the next flow of income generated from your freelance jobs.

[Read: Three Things That Should Be in Your Emergency Fund]

"As a freelancer, I am separating the money that I generated from work and the one that I will use for my personal expenses. Rather than using my income right away, I give myself a "salary"," says Ani.

She makes a habit of paying some of her basic expenses 6-12 months in advance, i.e. insurance premiums, tuition fees for her children and so on.

"Other than that, I set aside 20% of my income as our reserve fund," she says.

Read also: Are You Ready to Quit Your Job?

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