Starting a freelance business can be a wonderful step towards a dream career and lifestyle. An early sign that this is that right path is when there enthusiasm or a skill that would benefit other businesses. One that you can’t stop thinking about. Becoming your own boss is not without it’s challenges, but is within reach for the unwavering spirit.
As we explore the world of a freelancer and offer advice to get started, we reccommend you check out Bluehost to help you build and design your very own website. No freelancer is complete without their own site to showcase their work, get the word out, and help future cliental find you!
How to Start a Freelance Business
Before exploring how to become a freelancer, let us first examine what exactly a freelancer is:
“A person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.”
Does this sound like the appealing lifestyle you have been after all along? Then next consider why you want to be a freelancer. Is it because you want to explore a talent or hobby of yours you think is not being well represented in your current work? Do you want to be your own boss?
Are you sick of the same old 9-5? Is this a project you want to be a side business along with your current occupation, or something you want to eventually take on full time? Or is this just a bridge to an even bigger step for you in the future?
For whatever your reason, and whatever your short and long term goals are it is important to get in the right mindset. Have a vision for your business and plan out how many hours per week it will take to accomplish that vision. This dream of yours can become a reality, you just have to keep telling yourself so.
Remember that even though the freedom of a freelancer is appealing, it is also hard work. Especially when you are first starting off, you need to build a name for yourself. You may not be receiving a steady paycheck at first. You will need to research legal matters to protect your work and yourself. You won’t be receiving employer care anymore such as benefits and the support of a team.
It is good to be aware of these issues so that you can do the research now and prepare yourself for the future. Remember that struggles are certain in this journey you have chosen, but the more prepared you are, the less of a hardship it will become.
Freelancer Tips: Keep Positive
Get excited about your business! Putting positive vibes into your work will show. Create a name for your business. This will be a fun process and give you a sense of pride and ownership of something great. Realize your potential and stay true to your own values and fun-side as you craft your new establishment.
Thankfully the upfront cost for starting a freelance business should not be much. Depending on what type of service you want to provide, and how big your network already is it can be very little to no cost at all.
Be sure to research the costs of any supplies you may need, and do the math to figure out how many clients it will take until these are paid off. Remember, that any purchases you make are an investment into your future.
Benefits of Being a Freelancer
When you feel like giving up remember all of the rewards freelancing can have.
- You get to work WHEN you want WHERE you want
- The income potential is never capped and directly reflected on the amount of work you put into it yourself
- You are your own boss, take on and reject projects that you choose, control your workload, control who your clients are
- You save time and money on commuting and lunch
- Your overall health can increase due to less stress, staying away from groups of people carrying cold viruses, and the advantage of making lunch in your own kitchen
Write down your favorite part that you look forward to, and display it somewhere you see every day. Write down one good thing about your business in a journal every day, and read that journal every time you feel like giving up.
The 7 steps to becoming a freelancer are:
1. Making Career Decisions
Before you move on you need to consider a very important decision: are you going to quit your current job or keep it while starting your new business? Keep in mind that unless you already have a network of those in need of your services, it will probably take some time to build the cliental you need to meet your financial goals.
Holding on to your current employment will give you the financial support you still need to pay your bills and put food on the table. You may be in a position that you are able to fully focus on your new enterprise by itself. That way, you can spend all the time and energy needed to grow your business faster to where you need to be. Depending on your situation, please make sure to take careful consideration in your next step.
2. Defining Your Vision
Start by choosing your focus. Are you a writer, photographer, marketing director? Do you have specific skills like translating, social media, web developing? This will be the start of your brand. You need to carry your brand on multiple platforms such as your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, business cards, etc.
3. Setting goals
When setting your goals you need to make sure that they are S.M.A.R.T. Specific, measurable, achievable, results and time bound. How much do you want to be making per month? To achieve that, how many clients do you need and how much are you charging per service you provide? At what point do you need to be making your desired income? In two months? In two years? Consider the time and money you will need to be investing.
4. Build your portfolio
Your portfolio will be significant in gaining new business. It shows potential clients what you can do and what you are made of. If you do not have a portfolio built yet, start making this a priority. Rummage through your old files and try to find anything relevant that can be an example of what you have to offer.
Maybe pick up a few projects to work on for free to build your examples and develop a referral base. If you already have work you can collect, great! Set up a professional website for yourself as a base to showcase your work and have people find you. Make sure to connect all credible links to your website with LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, etc
5. Identify your target market.
If you already have a few customers, identifying your target market will be easy. Examine your current client base, especially your favorite customers, and determine what factors that make them similar are. What do they have in common? Are they local businesses, family owned, from a specific industry? Are they small, medium, or large? What is the title of the persons your mostly deal with? When you start to find a pattern, then you have defined the niche you need to go after.
If you don’t yet have a client base then determine, who do you want to sell to? What are characteristics of the person you want to deal with and the type of company you want to work with? Know that what you have to offer will not and should not be marketed to the masses. So explore your market, research publications about your service. Discover the demographics of those in need and want of your services. Then go after them!
6. Market Yourself
Now that you have a place online where potential clients can research you, you need to start getting the word out about your services. Post on all of your social media outlets of your new freelance business. Don’t underestimate the power of your online network; there have been a lot of success stories using social media to market yourself, including Shane Miller, an artist from Nashville who sells 40% of his art from Instagram. Publish creative content on your social media to showcase your services to gain more followers.
You don’t have to travel too far to find additional networking opportunities. Look into participating in your local Chamber. They are often a great association of business men and women in your area that love to support local businesses. Chambers frequently provide networking events and groups that you can participate in to help spread the communication about your business. Other networking groups like BNI can also be great tools for you to find like-minded individuals that can help you grow your cliental.
Know that people are searching for you too! You can take the pressure off yourself with your marketing efforts a bit at first because companies are out there in need of freelancers and using the web to find you. A few great websites that bring the employer to the freelance employee include:
7. Keeping up With Your Growing Freelance Business
As your customer base grows make sure to grow with it. Ask your cliental for referrals, survey your customers on what works for them and what you can improve on. Keep up with the latest trends and your competition in the market place.
Keep organized, it may be worth your while to look into a customer relationship management system (or CRM). This will help you organize your relationships and be more effieicnt with your work. Nutshell is a great resource to get you started.
Start a Blog for Your Freelance Business
Your maturing business should have a reputation as a resource or consultant to those in need of your services. Depending on your level of experience, writing capabilities, and desire to do so, it isn’t a bad idea to start a blog. Keep in mind, that to maintain a successful blog you should be posting daily, if not then weekly.
This will keep your audience interested and maintain your following. Your blog should reflect your work and credibility and will express your brand as more of a resource than a sales pitch. You can spread your blog out to topics of business in general, starting your own freelance work or anything else relative to your line of work you have experience in.
The other great idea about a blog is that others can subscribe to it and receive weekly emails. When they see your emails every so often, it generates more exposure to you and your company.
There is a bit of a freelancer spirit in all of us. We all have a creative aptitude that can take us far with a freelance business. Take what you have learned here and continue your research to be inspired to do what many people dream about and few do: become a freelancer. If you’re ready to take that leap then jump over to our article on how to start a business.