Introduction So, you think you want to be a freelancer? Let us guess, you want freedom, flexibility and to be in control of your life? There is no denying that starting a freelance business will change your life; but it will also change your relationship with, and your perception of, work.
Being a freelancer is one of the most liberating career paths. It is also one of the toughest. Starting a freelance business is not just as simple as waking up in the morning, rolling out of bed, and opening your laptop. Freelancing is not just an easy way to monetize your hobbies and nor is it easier than a “proper” job. Nevertheless, freelance work is some of the most rewarding work you will ever do. One of the most significant things to remember when becoming a freelancer is that the worst thing someone can say to you is “no.” You need to put yourself out there. There is no shame in being rejected, but there is some shame in not trying the first place. You may have to reach out to people— things do not always come to you; you will have to seek them out.
Freelance can be done part-time, on the side, or, eventually, it may turn into a full-time job. This eBook will give you all the tools that you need to be a successful freelancer. It will tackle common problems and answer the most common questions that new freelancers have. There are numerous perks that exist within a freelance business, that other jobs simply do not provide. The first section of this book outlines the basic foundations required to start a freelance career; it will ask you some questions and force you to think about your dream life. This will make you think about whether a freelance business is the right path for you and will give you some hints on structuring your new lifestyle. It will emphasize the fact that a plan is essential, a freelance business is not just something you can make up as you go along. Effectively researching and planning extensively before beginning will be the hallmark of success—ensure that you understand your service, your industry, and your audience properly, first.
After discussing planning, goal setting, and briefly touching on legalities, this eBook will talk about how essential a portfolio is. It will also go on to provide some tips on how to fill it up effectively to attract your target audience. Following this, it will also discuss how you can start working without much experience, and also delve into the positive and negatives of different platforms and places to finding freelance work. You will also have to think about the importance of time management and valuing your work. Your time is valuable, and the way that you manage it will help to dictate your work-life balance.
This blog will conclude by suggesting some forms of business expansion. Once you have reached a level of success you will have the opportunity to upscale it. So, future freelancer, read on for the ultimate guide to starting a freelance business, and changing your life.
Chapter 1 – The Basics To Being A Freelancer
This eBook will begin by outlining some of the basic features of freelance work. The fundamentals details of a freelance business plan will be outlined in the next chapters, however, it would be remiss to discuss the basics of freelance work without stating unequivocally that, as a freelancer, you are also a business owner. You will be responsible for all elements of your business, which is why you need to have a solid understanding of what it means to be a freelancer.
Is a freelance career right for you?
Chances are, if you are reading this eBook, it is. Starting a freelance business requires courage and investment; two things you already have by choosing to read this content. The remainder of this chapter will be discussing some of the most important things that you need to think about before starting your new business.
What skills do you have?
First of all, you need to start by thinking about what skills you have. These skills are likely things you have gained throughout your life and your career. Your freelance business will be most successful if you play to your strengths and your skills. It can include, of course, any education and training you have received, as well as things that you excel in.
What interests you?
As well as your skills, you need to recognize what interests you. What are your passions and your interests? What kind of work do you enjoy? What about your free time and hobbies? What do you do then, and what is it about them that you enjoy? Your business will be most successful if you are doing work that you are genuinely passionate about.
Most importantly, what kind of work makes you happy?
You should think about, and reflect upon, the past projects that you have most enjoyed. What elements of your past work have you enjoyed? Is it in the customer service element, or the collaborative effort of a team? Or, if you have been stuck doing work that you hate, reflect on why, and determine what you can do to make sure it does not happen again.
Concentrating on doing work that makes you happy will improve your quality of life and give you a spark that other freelancers do not have.
What will your service be?
As well as determining what you do, you also need to determine what you do not. This will ensure that you are only doing quality work in areas of your expertise that you want to do. When you begin freelancing, you should really think about what you actually want to do. You may have an idea of the vague industry or area, but you should think about what specifically the kind of work that you want to do. It should lie at the intersection of your skills and passions—this will be the key to the success of your business.
Freelance work ideas
There are a plethora of freelance business ideas, that can be tailored to your skills and interests. Chances are you already have an idea of what you would like to do, however, below, in no particular order is a list of potential freelance business ideas.
- Content writing
- Web development
- Web design
- Website creation
- Software programming
- Graphic design
- Online English teaching
- Social media marketing
- Content creation
- Brand management
- Search Engine Optimization
- Data entry
- Virtual assistant
Once you have an overall idea of what you would like to do, you can narrow it down to a specific niche. This is not something that you need to do immediately, but it is something that you should keep in mind as you grow your business. Specialization is essential to business growth—but your niche can evolve as your direction changes.
Who are your clients?
Once you know what your business will be, you will need to consider who your target market will be. Clients will be discussed in more detail later in this eBook, nevertheless, you should be considering who your target audience will be as you plan your business.
It is important to remember that, in terms of clients, you should be aiming for quality over quantity. While (and this occurs especially when you are starting out) it can be tempting to take any and all clients you encounter, you should know that you are allowed to say no. If someone is rude or trying to rip you off, move on. There are plenty more out there. Allocate your time to clients and projects that you enjoy and believe in. in particular, it is recommended that you try to gain long-term clients.
One of your primary business goals should be to retain quality clients and build good relationships with them—regular work is fantastic.
There may be hidden upfront business costs that you will need to invest in. Obviously, this is dependent on your industry and the things that you already own, but nevertheless, there are things that you need to consider. Will you need new software or technology? How about office equipment?
Can you work from home or do you need to rent somewhere? If you are thinking about using a coffee shop as an office—remember to budget in the coffees (and snacks!).
Working these out in advance is the best way to not get caught out with unexpected expenses.
Having a freelance business requires motivation and discipline. You will no longer have a boss hovering around demanding that you work harder; you are now that boss. Being self-motivated and having good time management skills are quintessential traits of successful freelancers.
It also cannot be stated enough that you need to know your worth. If you feel undervalued or underappreciated, you will also likely feel unmotivated. Figure out what motivational strategies work for you and utilize them to smash your goals.
Chapter 2 – Creating A Business Plan And Choosing Your Goals
A business plan is essential for any business, freelance ventures included. You do not have to have a complex fifty-page document, full of tables, charts, and calculations (unless you want one and will find that helpful for yourself). Instead, you can come up with a short collection of goals that you can refer back to.
When you search for a “business plan,” templates appear that are full of sections with complicated things that need to be determined—not all of these are applicable to freelancers. Instead, think about the main goals that you have for your business, and your life; and center your plan around these.
Your business plan and goals should be adjusted as your business changes and grows. Set aside time periodically to review and update your goals.
Things to consider before starting
Before creating a business plan, you need to think about what your goals are for your business. Take the time to be introspective and really consider why you want to start a freelance business. Doing so will help you maximize your abilities and prospects.
Do you just want to freelance on the side? Or will you aim to expand it into a full-time career? Why do you want to be freelance? Is it to get rid of the commute? Is it to be your own boss? To supplement your other income? For a better work/life balance? You need to get to the bottom of what is your motivation is for going freelance, and transform it into goals.
Basically, what do you want to get out of being a freelancer? Write down anything and everything that comes to mind and find ways to integrate it into your planning.
Cost of living
First, you need to figure out how much money you will need to make to survive. This is, naturally, often based on your income from any other work you have done. Some people find themselves taking a pay cut when transitioning into becoming a freelancer, you need to make sure that you can withstand this and plan for it in advance.
Once you have figured out what your ideal level of income is, you can start to determine prices for your products and services. Your cost of living, and desired income level will impact the hours you will be working and how many projects you will be taking on. It is also important to remember that adapting from receiving a regular pay check to being a freelancer and getting paid intermittently (and, worst of all, having to regularly chase up clients who refuse to pay) can be difficult.
Outlining what your desired wage will be in your business plan is something that you can return to every so often to check that you are on progress. Or, if you are not meeting it, you can try to understand why and readjust your goals.
You need to research your industry and your competition. You cannot just start up and expect success—there are a lot of other freelancers out there, and you need to set yourself apart from them. The best way to do this is to understand them. You should research your competition; see to see what they are doing, where they exist online and what mistakes they are making. You can emulate the positive aspects of their marketing and branding for your own freelance business and improve upon any mistakes you see them making.
Additionally, you need to do this research on a periodic basis. You do not want your services to become out of date or redundant. Every so often, set aside some time to check in on your competition and see how their business is progressing—make sure that yours is, too.
Creating your brand
At some point in the development of your freelance business, you will need to determine a personal brand. Your brand is how your target clientele will view your business; it makes you seem professional and authoritative. A good brand is an indication of business success. An element of your brand is how it appears visually. This will include things like your business name (it can just be your name), your logo, aesthetic design elements and how your website or portfolio is stylized.
The overall goals and missions of your business can be defined and outlined in your branding.
Where to find clients
You need to learn about and understand your target market. Once you have determined what you want your business to be, you need to determine whether there are enough clients out there to sustain it. While there usually is a market for pretty much everything, it is still a good idea to make sure that there are enough clients who will be interested in your services.
You should work out demographically who your target market is, and then try to understand their behavior. At the very least, you need to figure out where they would look for you. What is their internet use like? Where would they look for a freelancer? This is key. Without customers, your business will not succeed. You should endeavor to understand your audience precisely— this way you can target your services to them in a way that they will specifically enjoy and utilize.
Once you have a business plan, what should you do with it?
Your business plan should be something that you can return to when you find yourself stuck. Help your future self out and save them some trouble by giving them some inspiration. You can include a list of potential client ideas and places to find clients. If you are in a dry spell of work, refer back to these and reach out to pitch them. Make a list of your dream projects. If you have some spare time you could work on them to reinspire yourself and build your portfolio. Alternately, reach out to some potential clients and pitch your ideas.
You can also come up with a list of marketing strategies to implement when work is slow. Finding new places or methods to target your clients is a fantastic thing to do—it will expand your business and increase your client pool.
Including an assortment of “things to do when you do not know what to do” is a must-have in any business plan. It can be easy to come up with a list of things that you need to do when your motivation level is high before you begin. Then, once you have started work and you may be feeling a little lost, you can refer back to this list and reignite the spark that you have for your freelance business.
You should further define your business plan to simple mission statements or goals. Some people find it beneficial to keep these at hand, somewhere you can easily refer to them. They could be aspirations or statements for how you want to conduct yourself. Remind yourself of these regularly to ensure that your business is heading in the way that you dreamt of.
It is also essential that you remember that your plan can be updated whenever you like. Businesses are not stagnant objects; they should progress and grow—you can update your plan whenever you feel the need to. A sign of failure for a freelance business is that it does not grow or change with the times.