We are in a day and age where younger and younger members of the work force (Millennials and soon Generation-Z) are questioning why on earth they would accept a job that forces them to sit in an office for 40-plus hours per week.

I realize there are some jobs where this is essential, it's just part of the gig. Maybe it's even what you want--and that's perfectly fine. But there is a growing number of talented young people who absolutely do not want that, and they struggle to figure out how to find a different option.

As someone who recently took the leap (and let me tell you, I actually enjoyed my full-time job and the people I was working with), I want to pass along some resources and knowledge that will help you make tangible moves toward the lifestyle you would rather be living: working from your laptop, anytime, anywhere.

1. Build a Personal Brand

If you are of the mindset that you really want to do your own thing--as in completely do your own thing and not just search for a job that lets you work remote--then you need to start thinking about how you can build a brand around yourself.

Building a personal brand, which essentially just means having an audience, is by far the most effective and tangible way to "do your own thing." When people know who you are, when people consume your content, when people see you as a thought leader, this is what opens the door to all sorts of opportunities: You can sell your own products (books, courses, materials, etc.), you can acquire clients much more easily (let's say you're a freelance designer, for example), you can speak, you can teach, you can do pretty much whatever you want. As long as you have an audience.

2. Sign Up for Online Marketplaces That Connect Employers With Workers

Nowadays, there is an app or a website or a marketplace for pretty much anything you could possibly imagine--so if you're ever in doubt, just start Googling.

I have quite a few friends in the tech industry, many of them developers, and they have all signed up for different websites that connect people with potential jobs, employers, etc.

The most common one mentioned was Woo, with its primary benefit being that it is all anonymous. Essentially, you sign up and put together a list of the things you are looking for: everything from type of job to where you want to work and for how much money, etc. Then the companies also on the platform (and there are some big ones: Yahoo, Microsoft, Wix, Quora, DoorDash, Meerkat, Oubtrain, etc.) sort through and approach the applicants they are interested in. They approach you, and you pick and choose based on what is most interesting to you.

The anonymity part of all this is crucial, because, as anyone currently employed knows, it is a challenge to leap from one job to the next in a professional way without playing your hand too early. This is a good option for people looking to see what else is out there but who aren't quite ready to hand in their resignation letter yet.

3. Utilize LinkedIn

This could be in combination with the idea of building a personal brand, but LinkedIn (especially after Microsoft's recent acquisition) really is the go-to platform for professional connectivity and potential job opportunities. If you are interested in building a personal brand, especially in the entrepreneurship/business/self-development space, I highly suggest you look into writing regularly on LinkedIn's publishing platform.

However, if you just want to use LinkedIn to do some good old-fashioned job hunting, there are plenty of built-in tools that allow you to search by category, job title, physical location, area of expertise, etc. This can be a great way to scope out what's available, or even just get your brain thinking in a different direction.

The most common mistake I see people make when they sit in their unhappy jobs is they decide to make no decision at all. It's almost like they say to themselves, "I don't know what I want to do, so I am just going to sit here until I figure it out," which they don't realize is a decision in itself. You can't steer a stationary ship. Sometimes you just have to try something new or get yourself moving in a different direction to gain clarity.

4. Strike Referral Deals With Bigger Sources for Clients

Assuming you want to freelance, or take whatever skill set you have and do it from a laptop (ideally on a beach somewhere, right?), the biggest challenge you will face is, of course, getting clients.

Too often, people think they have to go get the clients themselves. Obviously, yes, you should be trying--always be selling. But a much more viable strategy is to go to the source. Think about who is already doing the hard work of bringing in clients but could easily utilize you and your skill sets as potential upsells.

For example: Let's say you are a content writer. Go to a few different agencies where you know someone, agencies that are doing things in similar areas of interest--like building websites (they need copywriters) to email marketing (need copywriters) to Facebook ads (need copywriters), etc.--and open the conversation for doing content writing. Why? They have clients, and you have a skill set you can offer at a competitive rate. Win-win.

Whatever skill set you want to build around, just think about what businesses are providing similar or complimentary services and then approach them about working together.

5. Sign Up for Freelance Websites

There are so many of them out there: Upwork. Toptal. SimplyHired....

Now, it's worth stating that while these might be great as a volume play, your ultimate goal is to establish yourself as a professional with a rate worth paying. It's not that hard to find people looking to pay $20 an hour for content writing or graphic design. What you want (this goes back to the value of building a personal brand) is for people to see you as the go-to person to hire, and for them to be willing to pay you hundreds of dollars an hour--maybe even more.

If you are just dipping your toe in the water, or want to try your side-hustle out for a few months before you take the leap, definitely look at something like Upwork or Toptal. Besides, getting a few clients and projects under your belt before you go out there and tackle the world is a key part of the process, and something you don't want to skip over.

Published on: Jan 23, 2017