(This is the sixth in a series of interviews with freelancers, telling us their stories on how they went freelance. The aim is to help others who are thinking of becoming freelance learn more about what it takes, as well as get advice and inspiration so they can get the confidence and understanding to find out if freelancing is right for them. If you want to take part in the series, simply head here to tell us your freelance story)
Name: Nick Nicolaou
Freelance Area: Mobile apps development (Android)
Freelance Since: 8 months
What made you decide to go freelance?
Two months after graduating from University, I was lucky enough to get a job at a small software company, 5 minutes away from home. A few months in though, it was clear to me that it wasn’t for me. I don’t like office politics, working 8-5 and working on things that I didn’t feel passionate about. Soon enough, I had taken the decision to start planning my exit.
What steps did you put in place before you went freelance?
My plan was to start saving a portion of my salary every month and freelance a bit on a side while I get a solid emergency fund until I start getting serious income from my freelancing business.
I started reading everything I could on freelancing, getting clients, managing a business and so on.
My plan worked for a couple months, and I had saved close to £1000; a decent amount, but a solid emergency fund it was not. Around the third month in though, it was obvious to me that working 9-10 hours a day and then coming home to put another 2-3 hours in side projects while having a relationship wasn’t as easy as I would have hoped.
Still, having my eyes on the prize, I tried to keep at it. After all, the sooner I have enough money, the sooner I can finally do what I wanted and go freelance full-time.
On a sunny Friday afternoon though, an “incident” at work was the final push. I decided that I would put in my resignation and would have to make it work with what I had saved. Sure enough, on Monday morning I put in my resignation and was finally free to do what I wanted to do.
How did it feel before you went freelance?
Exciting. I’m not risk-averse. Not by a long shot, so I was really excited to finally start doing what I always wanted.
How does it feel now you are freelance?
Awesome! Even though it hasn’t been that long, I honestly thing it was the best decision of my life. Err, sorry honey. I meant the second best decision of my life!
What are the positives of freelance life?
Freedom. You’re free to work whenever you want to, on whatever projects you like and with the people you like working with.
What are the negatives of freelance life?
1. It can be stressful.
Depending on one’s financial situation, knowing that you’re not going to make meets end at the end of the month if you don’t find a client soon, can be nerve-racking. I was/am lucky enough to have the support (both emotional and financial!) of my SO to make things way, WAY easier.
2. It can be lonely.
Working alone from home gives you freedom but it can also be lonely at times.
3. Achieving a work/life balance.
If you’re not careful, you might find yourself working 12-16 hours a day, especially if you have clients from all over the world.
Any advice for others looking to go freelance?
Make sure this is what you want to do. If you are absolutely sure, try and find ways to minimise risk: Save up some money.Lower your expenses. If you can, start looking for work on the side.
Build relationships with clients.
Get a few testimonials and try to start working towards a solid portfolio.
Or just do what I did, and jump in with both feet
It worked for me so I’m sure that if you work hard enough and put your mind to it, it will work for you too.
Thanks for taking part, Nick, and for sharing your tips and advice. Make sure to check out his website at nicknicolaou.me. If you want to take part in the series, simply head here to tell us your freelance story.
More from the How I Went Freelance series:
- Ruth Walters, Let Her Eat Clean
- Matt Collins, Charity Chap
- Ross Wintle, Oikos
- Sam Phillips, Freelance Digital Strategist
- Damien Clarkson, Social Chic
- Nick Nicolaou, Freelance Web Designer
- Art Anthony, Freelance Copywriter
- Sean Hargrave, Freelance Journalist
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