Quitting a steady job in order to become a freelancer is a huge decision to make. And it’s not easy to make it. If you’re still thinking whether to take this big leap, Matti Haapoja has some fantastic and useful guidelines to help you figure it out.
Matti shares a checklist that he used to figure out when the right time was for him to go freelance. He also shares some of the perks of being a freelancer, but also a few signs that you’re not ready to do it yet. All this could be helpful to all of you who are still trying to make the big decision, so let’s dive in.
Of course, the same techniques don’t work for everyone. But, I believe that Matti’s points can at least direct your thoughts and still help you decide. Let’s start with the signs that you’re ready to go freelance.
The signs that you’re ready to go freelance
1.Can you make money?
Are you already getting paid for your photography? Do people want to give you money for your skills, because they think you’re good enough? And do you think you’re good enough? If your answer to these questions is “yes,” it could be time to think about becoming a full-time freelance photographer.
2. People are asking you for your skills
Do people ask you to take photos for them or their business? This means they consider you a good and professional photographer and you should probably consider yourself as one, too.
3. Check your motivation
Don’t go freelance just because “everyone else is doing it” and “it sounds cool.” Also don’t do it just because your current situation at the job is difficult or you don’t like some of the people you’re working with. Do it because you want that freedom and because you want to be your own boss. And if you have a family to support, also think about whether it’s the best solution for you and your family.
4. You are diversified
Are you diversified in your skills set? Because you need to diversify your income stream, especially in the beginning. If you’re doing photo shoots, but for example also teaching, organizing workshops, shooting weddings and events… You’re most likely good to go.
5. Are you getting more work that you can achieve right now?
This one is maybe the most important one: are you getting more photography assignments than you can achieve with your day job? When you can’t achieve everything and start rejecting new photography tasks, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that you should go freelance.
Best reasons to freelance
As Matti points out, the insecurity and instability are what drives people from getting into freelancing. But he adds that, as long as you play it smart and diversify your income streams, you’ll be fine.
There’s another large benefit of having multiple clients and a large diversity in your freelance work. If you lose one or two clients, it’s not the end of the world. And if you lose a steady job, that’s the only job you have and that’s much worse.
So, let’s now dive in into a few of the reasons for freelancing that Matti highlights as the best ones.
When you’re a freelancer, you can work on plenty of different projects. This way you don’t get bored doing the same thing all over again. Personally, this is what I’ve always seen as one of the greatest perks of freelancing.
2. Choosing your team
When you’re a freelancer, you can choose who you want to work with. Okay, you have to make compromises, but you still can reject people and projects you really dislike, which isn’t the case when you work for someone else.
3. Affecting your income
With freelancing, you can affect how much you work and how much you earn. When you work for someone else, it’s often the case that you’re paid the same amount of money no matter how much you work. It depends on the job though, but freelance photography definitely gives you all the control.
4. Freedom to choose
Finally, if you’re a freelance photographer and your own boss, you get to be pickier about the projects you want to work on, especially as your career progresses.
How to know that you’re not ready to go freelance?
Of course, there are some signs that will tell you that you’re not ready to be a freelancer. At least not just yet. Here are five of them Matti points out as the most important:
1.You’re not disciplined
When you are your own boss, you make all the decisions. You often gotta force yourself to do stuff, because no one else is going to do it for you. And if you lack discipline – it’s advisable to rethink the decision to become a freelancer.
2. You’re bad with money
If you’re bad with money, don’t go freelance just yet. First learn how to save and how to be good with money, because you won’t have a steady income that will be the same every month. When I started freelancing, this was the most difficult thing to master for me.
3. You stress out about the unknown
One of the hardest things to handle can be the unpredictability of the freelance work. To be fair, I think we are all anxious about the future up to a certain extent. But if you stress out about the unknown too much, maybe the freelance work isn’t the best choice for you.
4. You don’t take the initiative
As a freelancer, you have to go after those jobs, especially at the beginning. No one’s just gonna come and give the job to you. So if you don’t have the initiative, maybe it’s not safe to leave the day job just yet.
5. No desire
Being a freelancer is pretty much like running your own company. So, if you don’t have the desire for something like that, then you shouldn’t go freelance until you feel really motivated.
For all of you still trying to wrap your head around what you should do, I hope that this video and article have been helpful. And whatever it is that you decide: good luck!
[Should you quit your full time job to freelance? | Matti Haapoja]