Starting as a freelancer? Why not? Building a successful freelancing career is easier than it seems — just follow the steps below.
Freelancing on the side is a great way to make a little extra cash or pursue a hobby. But for some passionate creatives and entrepreneurial types there comes a time when they wonder if they should make the move to full-time freelancing.
With freelance work being such an enticing prospect, no one would blame you for giving it some serious thought. However, a common issue is simply not knowing how to start. Fortunately, building a successful freelancing career is easier than it seems — just follow the steps below.
1. Choose Your Craft
Just about everything can be outsourced these days. That’s why there’s a strong likelihood that the skills on your résumé contain one or more freelancing opportunities.
You may be required to think outside of the box — we’re not all graphic designers or programmers. However, you may find that your “secondary” skills can offer up freelancing opportunities. For instance, if you are a strong writer, then you have the potential to develop a freelance writing business.
Don’t be paralyzed by a preconception that you do not have the necessary skills or experience — you would be surprised how little experience you need in order to get started. A little faith in your abilities will take you a long way.
2. Create a Brand
If you plan to succeed in the world of freelancing, you will need to create a strong brand that sets you apart from the competition. Your brand is your identity (i.e. your website, blog and social media accounts) and it should clearly communicate your unique selling proposition — what you do that makes you special.
With that in mind, you should narrow down your focus to a specific industry. For instance, as a graphic designer you might choose to do branding work for digital startup businesses only. This form of specialization will make you far more attractive to a specific set of prospective clients and give you a greater chance of success. You can try to cater to all and sundry, but you will probably only provoke indifference.
3. Build a Portfolio
The world of freelancing lacks the red tape of the corporate world. Many prospective clients are not concerned with qualifications; they simply want to see what you have done in the past and judge whether it is the right fit for them.
Therefore, if you are good at what you do and can demonstrate your skill through a quality portfolio and positive client testimonials, you have every chance of success. The conundrum, however, is in building a portfolio without experience.
Many freelancers will react to this by picking up the smallest and least lucrative jobs around, but that puts them into a vicious cycle of bargain-basement work. To work for high-paying clients, you need to demonstrate that you are worth big money by doing good work.
So don’t be afraid to do pro bono work for the right clients when you are first starting out. The free work you do at this stage can ultimately be priceless when it clearly communicates your worth to future potential clients via an extensive portfolio and glowing testimonials. Also, offering your services at no cost is a gentle introduction into the world of freelancing where you do not feel the pressure of having to deliver a service of requisite value.
4. Set up financial processes.
Before the work starts rolling in, be sure you’re prepared for it. Set prices, create invoice templates, establish an accounting plan and consider how much to set aside for taxes.
It’s easier to keep up with your accounting along the way with Moneypenny than to deal with it all later. So create processes so you can start off by keeping organized financial records.
5. Start Pitching
You should only seek paying clients when you are able to demonstrate your abilities (and your reputation) with a quality portfolio and testimonials. Once you have done so by working on pro bono jobs, it’s time to start pitching.
But whom should you pitch? Well, if you branded yourself correctly then you should knowexactly whom to pitch. By having such a narrow focus, potential clients are far more likely to take you seriously than if you offered a generic service. Businesses want to work with freelancers who seemingly came into existence to serve them specifically — you can create this illusion through specialization.
Potential clients can be found everywhere: from Google to social media to your doorstep. The possibilities are endless.The two keys to successful pitching are relevance and volume. Only pitch those clients who fit the mold of your brand and pitch a lot of them.
6. Secure a few clients.
While working at other jobs, set aside time after work and on weekends to build up a clientele for the future. Building an a initial client base and starting to put some cash in the bank is a must for beginning freelancers.
You don’t have to fully launch your business to find clients. Tap into your network and ask friends, family and colleagues for referrals. That will help you bring in some initial work to get started.