By pursuing freelancing, I’m essentially changing my career.
If you’ve ever changed careers before, you know it takes a lot of energy. It’s starting from scratch all over again and heading into the unknown.
I’ve changed my career many times before, so this is not new to me. But this time it feels different.
I’m very fortunate because I work for a big, well-respected company in a niche industry. If not for the name of my company, I would be struggling to land clients. But instead, I’m ripe with opportunity and connections.
There’s still about one month for me to go as a full-time employee (less my vacation days), which is also one more month of networking in person and organizing myself to launch into freelancing.
So far freelancing seems to suit me well. While I’m not a freelancer yet, I’m actively laying the foundation for freelancing and am amazed at how well it’s going.
Someone pinch me because it doesn’t seem real!
It’s been a very emotional past couple of weeks. I hadn’t been talking about my resignation much, and asked people who knew to please keep it on the d/l at first. But now my leave is officially out in the open, so I’ve also started talking about it more and have been receiving an outpouring of love and encouragement.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to land clients, but it appears that I have almost too many on my plate now! This is only because amazingly kind and generous people are helping me out in very real ways (without me asking), and I’m shocked, grateful, and so very touched.
Nothing is set in stone, but these leads are quite strong and it appears to be up to me, whether I want it or not.
Which of course, makes me think back to negotiating rates.
I’m not at all good at money-negotiations, and was feeling far too much stress about asking for $100+ an hour as a junior person. I’m sure there are fantastic money-negotiators out there who could pull this off, but I don’t think I’m one of them.
If I think about my goals, it’s not to make $100+ an hour off the bat. Maybe one day, but right now, I want to be able to consistently land projects so that I can continue freelancing and supporting my family and FIRE goals. Which means, I am willing to start at the bottom.
In my case, the bottom happens to be more than double my hourly rate now, which is not too shabby. I’m still planning to enter negotiations at more than that, but I know that if I get bargained down to that rate, I’ll still be happy.
Another benefit to working for a well known company in my industry is that it puts me in touch with a lot of talented people. Just because I’m not the best at negotiating, doesn’t mean everyone else is like me too (thank goodness!). So I’m asking one of my ex-consultant colleagues to coach me. He is great at all sorts of negotiations, and has really helped me understand things differently.
Like how I could probably get the amount of money I want to get, because I’m leaving my team at a sensitive time and I carry a bulk of the knowledge and expertise that cannot be replaced so quickly or easily. But that strategically, it’s not as wise to have a higher hourly rate than other more senior freelancers (I won’t get selected as much), and if I start so high it may leave a bad taste – like I’m screwing them over when they need me most. He says when people think of me as a consultant, the image shouldn’t be that I will cause them problems.
So he is helping me figure things out in a way that makes sense to me, while also helping me land a higher rate in other ways. I didn’t even think of it but there are other ways to structure a negotiation, not just a straight forward ‘give me X amount’. I’m very excited, and feeling more confident to enter the talks. Also I’m making it sound like this is all a hard negotiation, which it’s not. I’ll be speaking with good people who aren’t trying to screw me over. I just need to be clear about what I need to run my business, and what I can provide to my clients.