5 Steps to Starting your Freelance Business

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Have you been hearing about freelancing and do you think it’s time to go for it?

If you read my post, Lessons from one year of freelancing, it probably made you eager and excited to become a freelancer.

If you have also read countless articles on freelancing, met some well-known freelancers, and heard a lot about freelancing online, they must have propelled you to make the decision to become a freelancer.

Well, you have made the right decision.

And for those who might be hearing about freelancing for the first time or those who don’t know what freelancing is, Hubspot puts it in a simple way. “A freelance business is one that’s started and run by an individual who works for themselves — generally through independent contract work. Freelancers are responsible for handling aspects of their businesses that typical employees would not, including setting their own hours, determining pricing, pursuing contract work, and paying business taxes.”

Now, if you have decided to become a freelancer and you also want to take it up a notch by turning it into a business, I have some few tips to guide you through.

Below are some steps to consider when starting a freelance business:

Choose a Career

laughing businesswoman working in office with laptop
Choose a career on Pexels.com

It is not surprising that a lot of people think freelancing is a type of job or career.

No, it isn’t.

Freelancing is rendering a particular service to clients. The service can be the job you were doing in your former company before you decided to go solo or a new career you want to start.

So, freelancing is not the service, it is a form of rendering service.

This means you must have a career or a skill.

Before you decide to freelance, you will have to choose a service you intend to offer to people.

 Do you want to be a freelance writer, translator, editor, graphic designer, accountant, virtual assistant, uI/ux designer, or a web developer?

Make a choice based on what you do best or what you’re willing to learn and grow at.

I’ve heard funny stories of people who said they wanted to become freelancers and when they were asked what they do? 

They said freelancing.

“Yeah. I know. I mean what do you do as a freelancer”

No response.

So, now you know. 

Choose a career or a service you’re willing to render to your clients.

Be sure it is what you really want to do and put it out everywhere. Let everyone know this is what you’re doing, so they can reach out to you.

Another interesting thing is that you can change careers along the way. If you get interested in something new in the course of freelancing, or you decide to venture into a more profitable career/niche, you can make changes.

 All you need to do is announce your new decision to your clients and on your social media.

Tell everyone what you plan to do.

And if you have a community of freelancers, you can ask for their support and implore that they refer you to clients in your new field.

Key Takeaway: Choose a career you know how to do best.

Why do you want to become a freelancer?

question mark on chalk board
Why freelancing? Pexels.com

I know freelancing is great. It comes with the perks of time flexibility, the freedom to choose who you want to work with, the joy of working when you want to, and so on.

But you must also know that freelancing is a business that requires patience, consistency, and work. A lot of work.

If you’re not ready to put in the work or if you’re not informed about how much work you should put in, you might get disappointed along the way.

So, firstly, understand why you want to become a freelancer. Are you tired of working or answering to someone else? You want to be in control of your work and time? Great.

But, are you also willing to be committed to hours of working, searching for clients, sending proposals, and creating projects?

Are you willing to keep putting yourself out there until a client recognizes, reaches out to you, or respond to your email?

Are you willing to pitch a client, follow up, and constantly keep in touch until they are ready to work with you?

These and many more are the questions you must ask yourself. 

Freelancing does not mean less work.

Rather, it is even a lot of work when you’re just starting out.

The result of the work you put in will be great and it will be worth it. 

And after a while, you can decide to start doing less work, but that will be after you have put in enough work at the beginning.

Key takeaway: Commitment will keep you going during the hard days.

Set a Price

calculator app on smartphone
Set a price Pexels.com

As a freelancer, you will be asked about your rate or pricing, a lot. You can check out this price calculator. It will be of great help.

So set a price. It might be per hour, per project, per gig, or per words (for writers).

Choose a rate that works for you, and if you’re just starting out, try not to raise your rates too high, until you have had a couple or more clients and you feel you’re ready to raise the rate.

Key Takeaway: Start small but don’t stay small

Build your Brand and Authority

business plan printed on paper on a clipboard
Build a brand Pexels.com

The most popular and best freelancers out there are those who have built authority in their freelance career.

But in order to do that, you must first have a niche, then consistently put out value on content about your niche or specialty.

How do you do that?

Through your blog: Create a blog and talk about what you do. Be loud about it. Share value on it. Help people understand what you do. 

The good part about this is you’re helping other people in your field and you’re also letting clients know that you’re great at what you do and you have great understanding of your career or niche.

Show up on social media: Social media is the best way to get across to so many people these days. Let the people on your various social media platforms know what you do. Talk about it often. You can even share valuable resources from other freelancers in your niche and make funny videos about what you do.

Neil Patel says “If used correctly, video can be an extremely powerful form of content and make a significant contribution to your overall SEO strategy, in more ways than one.”

Also, don’t neglect a professional community like linkedin, it’s the home of opportunities. Constantly show up there and create a name for yourself.

This way you will build authority on the particular career or niche you choose.

Build a website portfolio: In my last freelance post, I explained how I lost job opportunities because I didn’t have a portfolio. This is another reminder to create a portfolio of all the work you’ve done.

Create a website and put up links to all the projects you have done, the people you have worked for, and testimonials too.

If you don’t have enough experience to share, write blog posts that show your expertise and add it to your portfolio. 

Remember to always update your portfolio as soon as you finish a job (if it’s not ghostwriting and the client permits you to share (make sure to ask)

This will show potential clients that you’re ready to work and you’re professional.

Key Takeaway: Be loud about what you do.

Have a Financial Goal

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Have a financial goal Pexels.com

A lot of freelancers earn so much money in a year but they usually can’t account for the money or they eventually have nothing to show for it.

So, as a freelancer, have a goal, have a budget, and stick with it. Understand where your money is going and also, save.

Remember, this is your business, and run it like one.

Your goal should be determined by how much you earn and remember to make it SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound).

Setting financial goals also helps you determine the type of client you should work for and how many times in a week or month you have to work to get that amount of money.

You can use financial management tools like QuickBooks to track your money after setting a goal.

Another point to also note is to pay yourself a salary every month.

Yes. Remember this is your business. Take out salary for yourself out of the money you earned in a month and save the rest.

You can also use a good invoice tracker for your business, that way you will know how much is coming in, who is owing you, and how you’re spending your money. 

Oze is a great money tracker I will recommend for nigerians.

You can also use invoice trackers or an Invoice generator.

Key Takeaway: Save before you spend

If you need some help with learning some more steps to becoming a freelancer, or you want to chat about freelancing, you can reach out to me.

You can also check out the resources I put together for freelancers to get help in their freelancing journey.

Have any new ideas to share? Let us hear it in the comments section.

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