freelance woman smiling and holding a mug in front of a laptop

Making the leap to freelance: 5 tips for career pivots

Thinking of making the pivot to freelance? You’re not alone. 

More than a third of the workforce has turned to freelancing in the past year and more than 50% of professionals who don’t currently freelance are considering it in the future. As more and more people realize freelancing is a viable career option, many are also wondering how to make the pivot from corporate to freelance.

These days, there isn’t one right path to take to become a freelancer. But if you’re considering making the leap from the corporate life to freelance life, there are a few things to know beforehand that will make it easier. 

Here are five tips for making the career pivot into freelance life.

Make a plan

In the corporate world, the transition process from one job to the next is relatively familiar and everything is pretty much taken care of by your employers. 

This isn’t the case when jumping into freelancing. 

As a freelancer, you’re self-employed and in control of everything — your time, your money, and your workload. This is both exciting and (mildly!) terrifying when you’re just getting started.

To make the transition smoother, you need an action plan. Figure out your financial needs and income goals so you have an idea of how you need to price your work. You should also determine how and when exactly you’re going to wrap up things at your current job before making the pivot into freelancing. You could start by taking on a few freelance projects while remaining at your 9 to 5, or make the leap into full-time freelance.

Put together a portfolio 

You’ve worked hard throughout your career and have a lot to show for it. Now that you’re going to be landing your own clients and projects as a freelancer, it’s time to show off your best work. 

Gather all of your relevant work and put it all together on a website for potential clients to check out. With all of your best work in one place, you should have a decent amount of work to get started, even if you haven’t taken on any freelance work yet.

Set up the essentials 

Saying goodbye to corporate life means leaving behind the corporate paycheck and benefits that come with it. This step is arguably the riskiest part about going freelance. But don’t worry — you can set yourself up for success by getting these not-very-sexy-but-absolutely-necessary parts in order before you make your career pivot to the freelance life. 

As an independent creative, you’re considered self-employed and will have to cover your own taxes which is why it’s a good idea to set up a business bank account. This way you can set aside a portion of your income each month for quarterly estimated taxes.

You’ll also need to figure out your healthcare options. There are several freelance health insurance options out there, so do your research before making the pivot into freelance so that you’re taken care of.

Be open to different opportunities

We’d be lying if we said that freelancing is a breeze from the start. Making the career pivot can be a challenge, especially when it comes to getting clients or new work.

You might not land your dream client or project right away, but that’s okay. 

Be open to different types of projects as you get started. Even if the clients or projects aren’t necessarily what you had in mind when you envisioned your freelance career, each experience gives you a better idea of what you want to pursue. This adaptability and openness is key to building your network and growing your business. 

Spread the word

Not only does everyone love a ~life update~, but letting your network know that you’re looking for freelance work is a good way to get new business. 

Ask any freelancer how they landed their first client, and there’s a good chance they’ll say it was through their existing network. Whether you take on freelance work for your former employer or get connected to a project through a friend of a friend, letting your network know that you’re looking for freelance opportunities is a great way to put the feelers out there for potential clients and stay top of mind for people looking for freelancers down the road.

Ready to take your business to the next level?