Transitioning from corporate to freelance? Follow these five-tips to have a successful career


With more and more businesses embracing unconventional work models, the demand for freelancers is registering new highs. A major credit for this, undoubtedly, goes to the tumultuous pandemic period, as it not only uncovered the vulnerabilities of the gig economy but also introduced organisations and individuals to the amount of incredible potential it holds.

According to several reports, India’s freelance community is expected to grow by $20-30 billion by 2025. But what are the major reasons for this massive shift in the mindset towards freelancing?

The answer is simple – affordability for businesses; unmatched growth opportunities for individuals, irrespective of their age, field, and experience; and most importantly, flexibility and convenience in more ways than one.

This is probably why Gen Z and Millennials no longer intend to confine themselves to the restrictions of the 9 to 5 work schedule. They wish to try their hand at multiple projects, explore their own capabilities, embrace a better work-life balance and maximise their income. Freelancing can truly offer these.

However, shifting from a decent-paying corporate job — where you receive a fixed salary and several employee benefits each month — to freelancing — where nothing comes with a guarantee — isn’t a piece of cake. You must have a strong plan in place to be able to execute a transition of this magnitude. A lot of experienced freelancers also suggest moonlighting, which means taking small projects along with your full-time job before becoming a full-fledged freelancer. Having said that, not all companies allow moonlighting, so make sure you don’t end up untimely losing your job.

Here we have compiled a list of tips that you can follow to ensure your success as a freelancer.

1) First, plan every move – As tempting as it sounds, don’t quit your job just yet. Abruptly leaving your job can severely affect your finances and put your career in jeopardy. Instead, lay out a proper plan to establish yourself as a freelancer and to smoothly survive the initial few months. Because, let’s be realistic – if anything goes south, you can go jobless for months to years.

So, begin by asking yourself a set of important questions to bring some more clarity to your thoughts. Here are a few:

  • Which niche should I pick? Should it be related to my current role, or should I first upskill and specialise in an area that’s high in demand?
  • Do I have any clients in mind? How will I pursue them?
  • How much should I charge for my services? Will that amount meet my monthly expenses? How can I plan my finances better?
  • Should I take a long-term project or sign up for multiple short-term assignments? Which gig platforms can offer the best opportunities?
  • How can I connect with industry experts and expand my network?

Once you have answers to these questions, design a blueprint to achieve your goals and stick to it. Also, bear in mind, you are most likely to encounter various obstacles along the way. So, identify such threats and devise a bunch of contingency strategies to stay afloat.

2) Set a budget and save – Goes without saying, you have to follow a strict budget and control your expenses. Now, this applies to both the situations — before leaving your job and after becoming a freelancer. You must start setting aside a certain sum of money each month from your salary to secure yourself financially.

At the same time, receiving multiple cheques initially as a freelancer can seem exciting. But remember, you will have to pay your own taxes, medical insurance and bear other liabilities, which are otherwise covered by employers. So, learn to manage your income and even hire a financial advisor to figure out what to do with your savings and assets, where to invest, how to file your taxes and more.

3) Leave your job, but gracefully – Time for a short story: A friend of mine decided to leave her job to get into freelancing. However, due to a lack of guidance and proper planning, she had no work for the first two months and her financial health took a massive hit. Then, fortunately, one day she received a call from her ex-employer asking her to work as a freelancer for them. And that’s how she got her first client.

Moral of the story: Don’t burn bridges while leaving your job because you never know when a reference or recommendation from your boss or a colleague may help you land an incredible work opportunity. So, be in their good books till the very last day of your job and stay in touch with them afterwards.

4) Spread the word – This is the time to leverage the power of social media and let everyone know about your plans to become a freelancer. You can use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to inform your friends, family, ex-colleagues, college mates and ex-employers that you are looking for clients. At this point, you must market your skills most convincingly and present yourself as a reliable brand. Keep in mind that the more you network, the easier it will become to get high-paying projects. So, focus on establishing a strong network and make continuous efforts to expand it.

5) Enhance your skill set – You might have a wide range of skills as a salaried professional but when it comes to turning into a freelancer, upskilling is necessary. As a freelancer, you will not be working for an organisation where employees are offered the required training time and again. This implies you will have to constantly update your skillset with the in-demand skills and keep up with the latest industry trends to gain a competitive edge. Therefore, consider learning as a lifelong process and invest in yourself to thrive as a freelancer.

Freelancing is no longer just a side hustle. Today, it has transformed into a popular career choice for people of all age groups. From unparalleled flexibility to greater income, and desirable work-life balance, you can achieve all of it through a successful career in freelancing as long as you know how to establish yourself as a brand. Just focus on adequately researching, planning, upskilling, saving and networking to kick-start your career as a freelancer.


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