How to transition into freelancing from a 9 to 5 job

It can be scary making the leap from a stable 9 to 5 job to freelancing full time. How do you know you have enough clients to sustain yourself? Do you need to replace your income before quitting your job? There are so many questions that you need to ask yourself before making the decision. Freelancing will always feel a little risky. The first big risk you take will be leaving your job and freelancing full time. It is one of the hardest decisions you will make this early on in your freelance career. Here are some things to consider before deciding whether it is time to transition from your 9 to 5 job into becoming a freelancer.

1. How much income are you earning as a freelancer

Before jumping into the freelance life, you need to know exactly how much money you are earning as a freelancer. Think of it as your background check. Make sure you have a plan set up to reach your set income. Your income should not come from the projects you choose to accept. They are a bonus. Your income should be derived from your skills, your abilities and your unique perspective. If you can figure out what percentage of your income your skills and abilities contribute to the sales you are generating, you will have a better idea of how much income you will need to survive. 2. What are you making in your 9 to 5 job? Most freelancers will have some sort of base income, either a little extra or a set amount per week.

2. What is the opportunity cost of working a 9 to 5 verses working as a freelancer

This is a tricky one, because it is very subjective. Is the opportunity cost of working a 9 to 5 versus freelancing $X per hour? Or is it $X/day? The problem with this question is it’s very hard to measure the opportunity cost, in other words, it’s hard to quantify the risk of starting a freelance career. I have worked as both a freelancer and in a regular 9 to 5 job, and I can tell you for a fact that freelancing is easier, and it’s more fun. It may be a little bit more stressful working as a freelancer, but it is a hundred times less stressful than working in a 9 to 5 job. So, you need to measure the opportunity cost in a way that’s easy to do. What’s the risk of working a 9 to 5 versus freelancing full time? Is it a risk to your health?

3. How many clients do you need to make the leap

Everyone makes the jump from a traditional job into a freelance career with one goal in mind: to get as many clients as possible and make as much money as possible. Although this is what you are going to do, you do not have to work yourself to the bone to make the transition. You may actually prefer to work less. Some of the biggest hurdles that many freelancers go through is lack of clients. This can be a way to gauge your current client base and see if you can realistically get more clients. If you only have a few clients, it might make more sense to go back to a full time job instead of working yourself to death as a freelancer. Is it a good time in your career to make the transition?

4. Do you need to improve your skills before becoming a full time freelancer

The key to turning your business from a hobby to a serious business is to turn your passion into a profession. That requires you to upgrade your skillset and to develop your brand and establish your reputation. While the bottom line is that it takes years to really build a successful business it does not mean that you should be waiting until you perfect the craft before you make the leap. When I was in the process of deciding whether to pursue freelancing full time I decided to do a little soul searching and take stock of my skills. Do I need to improve my coding skills? Should I be doing business coaching? What about speaking or teaching? This type of self examination and introspection is what gets you past the temptation to feel pressure to take the leap and start your own business. 5.

5. How long have you been working as a freelancer while still working a 9 to 5 job.

What is your average working week now? How long have you been working in this freelance rate? Have you considered downsizing your freelance rate to bring you more money? What else is happening in your life? Your family may have been affected by the high cost of childcare and this has prevented you from freelancing full time. Don’t forget to think about your other life goals and dreams. If you were to take time off work now and work freelance, how would you pay the bills? Ask yourself how you would manage to pay the bills? This will be important when it comes to assessing your life and planning. Would you be comfortable having to reduce your hours to save some cash? Would you need to borrow money to pay the bills? Would you need to go back to work?


Whether you decide to transition to freelancing from a 9 to 5 job or not, there are things you need to consider. There is no perfect recipe for creating a successful freelance career. But with this article, you now know some of the things you need to consider before making the transition. If you need help transitioning from your current job into freelancing, I recommend taking advantage of freelancing communities like Freelancer and Upwork. As you transition into freelancing, try to stay away from companies that care only about getting your money quickly and will always try to nickel and dime you. If you are still in school, you should make the decision to switch schools, pursue a different career, or change to a major that fits your current skill set. If you want to learn more about how you can kickstart your freelance career, download our Freelance Foundation Worksheet to start planning your freelance business.