4 Steps to Prepare for the Instability of the Freelance Life

4 Steps to Prepare for the Instability of the Freelance Life

You’ve been working hard to build up enough clients to take that huge leap into freelancing full time. You’ve gone above and beyond your clients’ expectations, worked hard to get your name out there, and are feeling pretty darn great about what you’ve accomplished.

You just have one fear: the instability of full-time freelancing.

The uncertainty of work, and therefore pay, is one of the scariest things about becoming a full-time freelancer. Here are four ways to make sure your financial ducks are in a row before you kickstart your new freelance life.

Save for an emergency fund

You need to prepare financially before leaving your current job to freelance full time. Most financial experts recommend having three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund, but with instability of the freelance life six months’ savings is probably more appropriate.

As a personal finance junkie, saving for an emergency fund didn’t seem like an option for me — it was definitely a must. My goal was to have about $10,000 (about six months’ worth of my expenses) in an emergency fund before quitting my day job. While I took the full-time freelance plunge slightly prematurely, I do have a little over $8,000 in my emergency savings account and hope to reach that $10,000 mark within the next couple of months.

Create a salary fund

Another important step to take in order to protecting yourself from financial instability is to create a savings account that holds one months’ pay. This “salary fund” will keep you from touching those emergency savings and give you a better feeling of financial security.

My goal is to keep my salary fund filled with at least one months’ worth of pay at all times. This way I can easily transfer my weekly pay into my checking account, even if I occasionally have a bad week.

Plan in advance and stay busy

Making sure you have enough work — and enough time to complete your projects — is crucial once you’re completely dependent on your freelance income. This is one area where you’ll need to be super on-the-ball: create a system for managing your workflow that works for you.

While some may label me bit of an organizational scheduling freak, I actually use two planners and a daily to-do list to schedule my freelance work. On my main planner I write out all of my assignments with a dollar amount next to them. Once I get paid for a project, I go back to this planner and record it.

I also use a second planner to schedule out my week. If I see that I’m going to have too much free time and not enough work for that particular week, I put that time to maximum use: I email blog owners asking if they need help with their blogs, I write posts for my own blog in advance, and I guest post on other blogs.

Don’t let those slow weeks get you down. Remain proactive by filling in those scheduling holes. Work on all of those tasks you’ve pushed off but that you know will benefit your career.

Keep a Rich Contact Pool

Networking with others takes minimal effort and is fun to boot. Make it a point to get to know other writers and bloggers in your niche. Read and comment on blogs, be active on social media, submit guest posts, and develop personal relationships with your online community.

All of this networking keeps your name out there. I love knowing that if I ever fall on really hard times, my blogging buddies will refer me to any jobs they hear about or hire me when they’re in need of a writer.

What strategies have you used to prepare to make the leap to full-time freelancing?

Filed Under: Freelancing


  • Alicia Rades says:

    Great tips! Just one thing to consider that I’ve heard from Linda Formichelli is that freelancing is a bit more “stable” since if you lose one client, you don’t lose everything whereas if you get fired from your 9-5 job, your income instantly stops.

  • This is all very good advice. The one area that made the biggest difference for me personally, (when I took the leap into a full time freelance lifestyle), was to “save for an emergency fund”.

    I only had around 3 months worth of expenses set aside when I started, but the difference in having peace of mind was huge.

  • Julie says:

    Alexa, Very informative post, and having worked in finance, and taking ‘leaps of the cliff’ in the path I agree wholeheartedly with you.This time around, I’ve decided that as well as giving myself a financial cushion, there will be a time limit imposed so that I know when I can walk away.

  • Hi Alexa,

    This is an important article for anyone thinking about leaving their 9.00 to 5.00 job. I am a great believer in having an emergency fund. Having been a financial planner in another lifetime I can tell you that you are giving the right advice because it is one of the main pillars of most good financial plans. I have featured articles on my website from http://blog.womenandco.com/ and I imagine that Citi (who own the blog) might be interested in your articles.

    Best wishes