At the start of the new year, we set resolutions.
Leaves change, the temperature drops and we look at self-improvement.
Some of the more popular topics for resolutions include paying off debt, quitting that job you hate and finally starting to do what you love.
How do we take those seemingly perpetual resolutions and turn them into real changes?
A few Januarys ago, I started freelancing to work toward my resolution of paying down some credit card debt, and I did it using my greatest asset: myself.
Credit card debt is certainly not a unique hurdle, as CardHub projects our national net debt will reach about $60 billion this year.
Through some elbow grease and determination, I turned my freelancing side gig as a voice-over artist into a full-time career that I’m truly passionate about.
I know it seems scary.
Why would anyone want to quit his or her reliable and safe full-time job for the the unpredictable world of freelancing?
I asked myself the same question, but now that I’ve made the jump, I’ve never been happier.
And I’m not alone.
Intuit, an American software company, projects that 40 percent of the workforce will be made up of independent or contingent workers by 2020, more than doubling its current size.
I can’t help but encourage others to take the same scary leap as I did.
I've learned a few lessons along the professional road, and I've realized many are choosing to travel through freelancing.
I’ve found a way to do what I love within my own timeframe, and maybe you can, too.
1. Establish a client base and market yourself.
The most important thing with running your own business is maintaining a full and happy client base.
Clients keep you in business, and their opinions can influence whether or not they refer you to friends, leave positive reviews or use your services again.
Remember the customer is always right, even when you know he or she is not.
Do what you can to always provide exceptional service.
There are also many online resources to help you find new customers.
In January 2013, I started looking online for ways to bring in new clients.
I used a number of voice-over websites and even looked into hiring an agent.
Finally I landed on Fiverr, where I now run the majority of my business.
Tools and marketplaces like this help alleviate one of the biggest fears around freelancing by delivering a client base, and they can free you up to focus on the product you’re delivering.
Don’t be afraid to get creative about how you market yourself and look for new customers.
There are thousands of resources available.
You just have to find the right one for your needs.
2. Don’t go rogue; create an overlap.
If you’re thinking about a freelance career, try dabbling in it first before you quit your full-time job.
You should make sure you transition into something you truly love.
If you start by freelancing as a side gig, you help minimize possible regret down the road.
Try to pick up momentum and save money as you start freelancing.
Knowing you have three months’ worth of rent in the bank before quitting your job will help you feel more confident to take the plunge.
When I was getting started, I lived solely on my freelance income for seven months, while I banked the paycheck from my other job.
I also gave my 9-to-5 job four months’ notice when I quit, which helped me mentally prepare for the transition.
Try to do anything you can to create an overlap that will establish you in the freelance community and give you a peace of mind during your transition.
3. Take little wins as they come.
While setting professional goals is always important, you’ll never be successful if you start freelancing with the goal of making $200,000 a year.
I never thought my freelance career would take off like it did, and I didn’t go into freelancing thinking I would find something I loved enough to quit my full-time job.
I had a small goal to pay off one credit card.
When I did that, I set another goal.
I celebrated every small victory as it came, and I was thrilled with my success.
Moving completely to a freelance career can be scary.
But once you decide to go for it, the benefits outweigh any hesitations you had before you started.
Remember to start small and be creative about finding new clients.
There are plenty of opportunities out there; you just have to find what will work for you and have the courage to do it.