The Ultimate Guide to Transitioning Into Freelance



If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need to be convinced about all the plus sides of freelancing—choosing when, where, with whom, on what and for how much money you work. But, as sweet as it is, freedom always comes with a price. There are skills to learn, doubts to overcome, clients to deal with and arrangements to make.

Whether you’re wondering if you’re really cut out for freelancing or worrying how you’ll manage it all, this round-up of resources puts together in one place all the information you need to get started as a freelancer, one step at a time.

It doesn’t happen all at once. In this post, you’ll get the steps of transitioning into a full-time freelance career broken down into four manageable phases:

  1. Learning the tech skills you need to get started.
  2. Getting into the freelance mindset.
  3. Building a career safety net (so you can say goodbye to your day job!)
  4. Quitting your job!

For each phase of transitioning into freelance, you’ll find useful articles and resources to get you on the right track.


The first step to being your own boss is to get a set of in-demand skills, and the hottest skills today are tech skills. Clients and companies are constantly on the look out for talented professionals to design and develop websites and apps. So, if you’re ready to change your life, your first step is to learn some valuable tech skills.

For web design that means UX and design fundamentals, and HTML and CSS for web development.

To start doing exciting work building websites for clients, learn workflow tools like Git and GitHub, plus start programming with JavaScript, jQuery and Ruby, for example.

And if you’re ready to level up, you can go beyond the basics to amp up your skills with systems like WordPress and frameworks like Ruby on Rails.

To see if you’ve got what it takes already, check out these convenient checklists complete with resources and more references:

Or, if you need to brush up on your skills, join us for the Skillcrush Blueprints – the perfect way to get the foundation you need in tech!


Now that you’re ready to wow the world with your fancy new tech skills, you need to make sure your way of thinking is also primed and polished to deal with the challenges of freelancing and that you’re prepared to handle working with clients all on your own.

You might be surprised that the way you think has more impact on your success as a freelancer than your current skill level. Learning to think like a freelancer, from getting into the developer mindset to working past self-doubt, is the difference between quitting after your first setback and learning from it.

Already got your head in the freelance game? Awesome! But you’re not the only person you have to worry about it. Many new freelancers struggle working directly with clients. Read up on how the most successful freelancers communicate and interact with clients:

And as most freelancers will tell you, the key to a stress-free relationship with your client is to make sure you get everything on paper first. Be sure to talk to a legal professional before nailing down a contract to use with clients, but first check out resources to figure out what to watch out for when it comes to the legal side of freelancing:


Even if you’re mentally prepared to tackle problems like a pro and keeping clients happy, you should still create your own job security by learning to avoid common freelancing pitfalls and getting your rates right from the start. Building a safety net means you won’t end up in a bind, unable to make rent or find another client, for example.

And creating your own job security as a freelancer comes in two phases.

First, get familiar with the freelance landscape. What expenses can you expect? How much money do you need to make? How much can you charge for your work? Get answers to questions like that in these articles:

And once you have a good idea of the logistics, take some time to ensure you don’t get caught in common pitfalls.

  1. GO FOR IT!

You’ve done what it takes to get this far. Even if you don’t feel one hundred percent ready, you have to start sometime. Either way it’s time to stop dreaming and start freelancing!

First, gain experience and build up your portfolio by doing smaller projects in your free time:

And when the moment comes and you’re finally ready to kiss the cubicle goodbye, make sure you quit your job the right way:

So don’t wait! Take the first steps towards building your freelance career right this minute.


Kelli Orrela is our customer service manager and one of our content creators – plus an early alum of Skillcrush 101! She’s also taken advanced web development classes and has been an organizer of the Helsinki Rails Girls chapter.

In addition to helping the Skillcrush team and students, Kelli loves listening to tech podcasts at 2x speed, watching Disney Channel shows, looking for cute Corgi photos online and teaching and performing country line dancing — as a true Texan living in Finland would do.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Josef Grunig

About the author: Skillcrush

Skillcrush, your ‘how to get started guide to tech.’ You know that mastering technology is key to future success. Increase your tech know-how in collaborative online classes with real-live instructors there to help.

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