Working your own hours, being your own boss and working on projects that you truly enjoy are just some of the perks of being an independent contractor. If you’re ready to shift from an office job to freelancing or working as an independent contractor full-time, you should expect to face some challenges and obstacles along the way. Still, the hard work you put into building your client list, skills and experience can lead to a much bigger payoff than working a full-time position for a single company or firm.
As a full-time freelance writer and online marketing consultant, I’ve learned that delivering high quality work, being very self-disciplined about working hours and making the clients a top priority are some of the keys to being successful in the long run. Since you don’t have a supervisor or boss creating work for you, you need to be very proactive to find jobs and projects and also to learn how to market your skills and services.
Here are some tips for turning independent contracting into a full-time position:
1. Be ready to pitch and apply. Working as an independent contractor does require you to be very proactive when finding jobs and projects and securing contracts. You can find hundreds of freelance jobs online in almost any industry, but you will need to set aside some time to filter these listings and find the best match. Set aside an hour or two per week to go through several job listing sites, and have an updated resume and cover letter (or intro e-mail) on hand so that you can apply within minutes.
2. Maintain a professional website. A professional web presence is important for independent contractors in almost any industry, especially those that are web-based. Your website needs to include a brief bio, a list of services you offer, contact information and samples of your work. You may need to obtain permission to post your affiliation with some clients, so make sure you review your contract thoroughly for information about promoting and marketing.
3. Ask existing clients for referrals. Satisfied clients may know other people in their industry or your niche who are working on similar projects. Don’t be afraid to ask existing clients for a referral or to keep you in mind if anything else comes up. Many clients are more than happy to refer someone they have worked with to their colleagues or business associates.
4. Set your working hours. Working independently gives you the freedom to set your own hours, but that doesn’t always mean your clients are working on the same time schedule. Keep track of deadlines by plotting a daily and weekly calendar, and set office hours so that you can separate yourself from work at the end of the day. Being consistent with your work day and knowing what your limits are will make it easier to stay motivated and productive day in, day out.
5. Invest in the right tools and equipment. If you are an independent contractor who works online, make sure you have a secure Internet connection, mobile devices such as a laptop and a phone with internet capabilities and a high quality computer to get your work done. Don’t skimp on the essentials. You will be more productive when you have the basic tools and equipment by your side.
It’s also important to make sure your skills and knowledge about the industry you work in are up-to-date. Consider taking online courses or non-credit classes at your local technical college, or even study on your own so that you can perform better on any job or project.