The world of freelancing means you are your own boss, you can work when you want, and you can pick and choose exactly what projects you want to work on. Whether you choose to supplement your 9-5 income or dive straight into being a full-time business owner, freelancing takes dedication, grit, and most of all, hard work.
But freelancing isn’t all glamorous. As a freelancer, there is no steady paycheck, so you must be able to manage your finances and workload. You have to go out and find your own clients, or you risk not getting paid.
Despite the drawbacks, many people still go on to be extremely successful freelancers. Whether you do freelance writing, photography, graphic design, or other work, there are plenty of ways to make money as a freelancer. Here are five tips to help you get your freelance business up and running.
1. Create a Business Plan
Every good business needs to start with a plan. Even if you are just in the very initial stages of brainstorming your business, a business plan can provide a wealth of assistance.
There are hundreds of free business templates available for download online. You just have to find one that works for you. A business plan will encourage you to think about your business as a whole. You’ll determine your target audience, your business mission, your competition, and more.
Don’t panic if you have never completed a business plan before. A freelance business plan can be as in-depth or as surface level as you would like. Although, it is always beneficial to go into more detail if you can.
2. Set Business Goals
What do you hope to achieve as a freelance business owner? What are your long-term goals? Quarterly goals? Monthly goals?
Goal setting is imperative to operate a successful freelance business. Without defined goals, it is hard to push your business in the right direction. That’s mostly because you don’t necessarily have a clear focus of what that direction should be.
Start by writing down all of your long-term goals. Consider your financial goals, customer service goals, and work-life balance goals. What do you really hope to gain by starting your own freelance business?
Overwhelmed by your goals? Unsure of where to start? Instead of getting completely overwhelmed by your long-term goals, break them down into smaller objectives. What do you need to accomplish in one year to achieve all of your long-term goals? Break it down even further to figure out what you need to achieve each month and even each week.
By setting small, actionable goals, you will find you can accomplish a lot more than you even realized, without getting stressed.
3. Perfect Your Pitch
No matter what type of business you own, you must master your pitch. A pitch is a quick spiel you give clients about your business and the value you provide. What will you say to make clients want to work with you?
Take time to really think about your business pitch. You will want to have a verbal elevator speech nailed down that you can deliver in less than one minute. You’ll also want to write a few brief, general pitches you can quickly email a potential client about your business.
In your pitch, describe who you are, how you got started, and what your business does. Make it concise, fun, and most of all, totally like your personality.
If you’re new to freelancing, pitching is a necessary step to find those ever-important first few clients. You need to be able to share what you do confidently, so take the time to master your pitch.
4. Control Your Costs
As a new entrepreneur, you likely will have some startup costs associated with your business. While it’s pretty near impossible to start a business without any money, you also don’t want to spend your life’s savings on it.
If you are new to freelancing, create monthly income goals. While it’s great to push yourself and hope to earn a lot of money immediately, your income goals should also be realistic. What can you truly expect to earn each month? Set a budget according to the income you expect to earn.
Be conservative with costs, especially at first. Consider what you need to outsource and what you could do yourself. Once you start earning more money, you can invest more back into your business.
And don’t forget – if you are earning money as a 1099 contractor, taxes haven’t been taken out of your income when you receive it. It is your responsibility to make sure you pay quarterly taxes to the IRS, so be sure to set aside some of your earnings each paycheck. To ease the burden of filing and managing your taxes, you can utilize tax software, like TaxAct, that’s designed specifically for freelancers.
5. Market Yourself
As a freelance business owner, you don’t have a team to do all of your marketing for you. You have to market yourself all on your own. That means that you have to think of ways you can set yourself apart from your competition. When you think of marketing, you probably think about how you can push your products or services to other people. But it’s also important to consider how to market yourself.
Yes, as a freelancer, you are a big part of your brand. For instance, think of a freelance photographer. Even if the photographer has the best portfolio in the area, customers don’t want to work with someone they don’t personally enjoy being around. You are just as important as your product or service. As the photographer, it’s your job to market yourself and to adapt to what each client needs.
Some clients will want to work with you because you offered something different from the competition. Don’t just market whatever service or product you are offering – remember that most clients will choose to work with you because of you.