How to Transition from Full-Time to Freelancing

How to Transition From a Traditional Job to Become a Freelancer or Contractor

If you are planning to leave your traditional job to become a freelancer or contractor, it’s essential to understand what this transition entails. Going from being an employee of a company or person to being self-employed comes with significant differences that you may not anticipate.

This article will guide you on what to expect when you transition from traditional work to become a freelancer or contractor. We’ll provide you with valuable advice, highlight the key differences between traditional jobs and self-employment, and offer actionable tips to help you overcome any challenges that come your way.

What To Expect When Making the Transition from Traditional Work to Freelancing or Contracting

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When you decide to transition from traditional work to become a freelancer or contractor, there are several changes you can expect. Below are some of the most significant differences that you may experience while making your transition. 

No guaranteed income

As a freelancer or contractor, you will no longer have a fixed salary or benefits. Your income will depend on the projects you take on and the clients that you work with. This can be difficult to manage at first, and you will need to learn how to budget for the months that aren’t as lucrative as the others.

Self-employment taxes

You’ll be responsible for managing and paying your own taxes, and it’s important to research the self-employment tax laws and regulations in your location, as they may differ from what you are used to. 

More flexibility

Freelancers and contractors have the flexibility to choose their own projects, set their own schedules, and work from anywhere. This is one of the main benefits of freelance and contract work, with a reported 78% of skilled freelancers citing ‘schedule flexibility’ as a key reason for their career choices. 

More responsibility

Unless you are a contractor signed to an agency, you will likely be responsible for finding and managing all of your clients, invoicing and collecting payments, and handling all aspects of your business. This can be a big adjustment, especially if you’re just starting out.

Uneven workload

Freelance or contract work can be unpredictable, and you may fluctuate between busier periods and slower periods. Especially as you build your portfolio and your reputation, you may experience months where you work very little. Thankfully, as your reputation grows, this should even out. 

Need for self-motivation

As a freelancer or contractor, you’ll need to be self-motivated and disciplined to stay productive and meet deadlines. Time management becomes doubly important as a self-employed individual, and staying focused and organized is solely your responsibility.

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Despite any potential challenges, there are many benefits to freelancing and contracting, including the ability to pursue your passions, set your own rates, and have more control over your work-life balance. 

To make the transition smoother, be sure to plan ahead, build a strong network, and invest in your skills and education. With the right mindset and approach, freelancing or contracting can be a fulfilling and lucrative career path.

How to Transition From Traditional Work to Become a Freelancer or Contractor

Step One: Research

Before taking the leap, research what it means to be a freelancer or a contractor. Be honest with yourself about your ability to manage self-employment, and decide if the benefits are worth the challenges. Once you know what to expect, research the market demand for your specific niche. Explore different pitches, map out a timeline for the transition, and research how and where to find clients. 

Step Two: Plan

Once you’ve decided on your niche and your timeline, plan out exactly what you want to offer to your future clients. Be as specific as possible here, and include your pricing structure (whether you’d like to charge hourly, daily, or per project) and decide on your rates. Once you have figured out all of the details, create a business plan. 

A business plan will help you to prepare for whatever comes your way while making your business more flexible and resilient. A freelance or contract business plan is very similar to a traditional business plan in that it forces you to take a closer look at your business’ viability, as well as outlining strategies you can use to grow your client base and revenue. 

Step Three: Build a Portfolio

You may want to impress your future clients with your credentials and academic background, but what they likely want most is proof that you can do the job. Therefore, all freelancers or contractors should have a portfolio of their work. Additionally, you can prepare a resume that highlights relevant work experience and achievements that might make you a valuable candidate. 

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Step Four: Market Yourself

Putting yourself out there is an important part of building a personal brand. Make sure you share your new business and your services with your networks, both personal and professional. Consider joining social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram to increase your visibility. This will also enable you to connect with other freelancers, mentors, and even potential clients. 

Additionally, sign up to job boards like Upwork or We Work Remotely and set up your profile to include your resume, a link to your portfolio, and a short description of you and the services you offer. 

Step Five: Try Part-Time Freelancing or Contracting

If your schedule and current work contract allows for it, a good way to transition smoothly and mitigate some challenges is to start offering your services part-time. Speak to your boss beforehand to ensure that there will be no issues with you picking up a second job, and discuss your schedule and how to best balance the two. This can help you to start your freelancing or contracting career without the risk of earning little to no income. 

Step Six: Find Your First Client(s)

Find projects that you resonate with, and send in your pitches. Experience what it’s like to work with a client as a freelancer or a contractor and optimize your business plan and offers from there. 

Step Seven: Work On Your Skills

An important part of freelancing and contracting is maintaining your continuous professional development. Complete short learning courses to improve your skills, listen to educational podcasts in your spare time, and take any opportunity to learn and grow, until you feel that you are ready to take on freelance or contract work full-time

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Step Eight: Resign From Your Position

Once you feel as if you are ready to freelance or contract on a full-time basis, hand in your notice of resignation to your current employer. Take this time to sort out any loose ends and ensure that your relationship with your boss and colleagues is not damaged in the process.


Transitioning from a traditional job to freelancing or contracting is a big decision that requires careful planning and preparation. However, with the right mindset, approach, and support, it can lead to a fulfilling and lucrative career. 

By being prepared and planning ahead, you can successfully transition from traditional work to become a freelancer or contractor. Remember to remain disciplined, motivated, and flexible, and you’ll be well on your way to building a successful freelance or contract career.

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How to Transition from Full-Time to Freelancing

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