I know quite a lot of freelancers. Most of us have a similar startup story. That is, how we got into freelancing.

Our startup stories are the same but we each took the perilous journey alone. Though now that you’re reading this post, it is my hope you won’t have to go it alone. Use this post as a road map for how to take your first steps towards freelancing.

Here’s to accomplishing your goals.

Make Sure People Are Willing to Pay for What You Want to Do

If you want to succeed in business, you must offer a product or a service that people actual want. See, I’ve ran across some freelancers who want to be successful but they aren’t willing to pay attention to the market. The market is what matters. See, if you want to write – you must be willing to write about things others want you to write about. For example, people will be much more willing for pay you for writing book reviews of popular books rather than writing reviews about tiny cult books that only 1,000 people from your town read.

The point is – it’s not about what you want to do, it’s about what others want to pay you to do. If you want to make good money, you need a way to weave yourself into a market. Don’t be selfish if you want to get rich. I know that sounds counter-intuitive (unfortunately) but it’s not. You get paid more if you help more.

Get Around Like-Minded People

You are who you hang around. If you only hang around with salaried office workers – do you think you’ll ever excel at freelance? Unlikely. Instead, you need to get around the people who believe in your goals and who push you to follow your dreams. Like attracts like.

There are many ways of doing this. A simple way is to attend a conference that caters to freelancers. You’ll be able to learn a lot about the lifestyle.

Another way of getting around like-minded people is by joining a coworking space in your neighborhood. There is some cost to this but being around the right people is worth far more than what you’ll spend. If you’re not yet in a place to spend money on a coworking space, you can always find ways to expand your circle of friends to include freelancers. You can use websites like meetup.com or simply mention to everyone you meet that you’re becoming a freelancer and see if they know of any other freelancers in the area.

Start Right Away

If you don’t act within the first 24 hours, you probably don’t want it bad enough. With that said, act fast. This of course implies that you’ll start freelancing before you quit your salaried position. And yes, that means working well over 40 hours per week. Doing so will build your confidence that you can really take freelancing full-time.

Most freelancers do this and eventually hit that spot where they must quit their full-time job in order to pursue freelancing. You’ll know when that time arrives. It’s usually when you are working the maximum amount of hours you can and something has to give – and you’re sure as heck it’s not going to be the freelancing.

Prepare for an Income Dip

Some people can match their freelance income with their salaried income before quitting. That means they may make $35,000 from 9-5 and then another $35,000 from 5-9. That’s fantastic. But even if you do that, you may have higher costs as a freelancer than you did while salaried. It’s not always the case but you still need to prepare for a dip in income. For instance, having no employer health insurance and no 401(k) match can hurt.

The Transition Can Be Pretty Seamless

When I first started freelancing, I left my 9-5 at noon and kept working on freelance once I got home. That’s how it should be for you. No breaks. No play time. If you want to freelance, you’ve got to hustle.

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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