You can start to build a freelance business by working through any of the available online platforms. But FreeeUp is the best place to really grow professionally and scale your business. The principles behind it and the way it’s structured create a supportive atmosphere that’s crucial to success.
You can’t really expect to build a freelance business without any experience. This applies both to your own personal experience freelancing and to your experience running a business. There’s a lot involved in both of these journeys.
So let’s begin with how you get ready for the journey that you’ll take with FreeeUp as your partner. Then you’ll see how this sets you up to build a freelance business that’s on the fast track to success.
Working on your own for yourself is very different from working with a team in an office under the managerial supervision of the business you work for. Freelancing is a business in itself, and it’s a solo flight. You don’t have any co-workers or supervisors, so you don’t get that support.
So here’s what you need to grow into as a freelancer before you decide to build a freelance business:
Know first who you are deep down inside. How do you define yourself? Take a minute to think about that. Seriously, think about it before you read on.
If you define yourself by the skills or accomplishments that you have collected thus far in life, then you’re on the wrong track. Dig deeper. Look for what’s at the core of your being when all those outer decorations are stripped away.
If you’ve identified an enduring passion, a driving purpose, then you’re spot on. You are going to have more than one talent or skill, but these are not what make a successful freelancer. It’s who you are that should guide your choice of talent or skill to develop and pursue. It will give you a firm sense of direction throughout your career.
And because this is the essence of who you are, you will automatically have the determination to pursue it, despite the different obstacles that you will surely face down the road.
Successful freelancers don’t need encouragement from others to go after what they want in life. Career freelancers are self-motivated because they have passion for what they do. They love their work and don’t need to be pushed to take their efforts to the next level.
Freelancers bound for greater things don’t need either positive or negative reinforcement to get things done. They will happily put in the hours needed to produce quality output, and the result of that work itself is reward enough. This is the definition of a strong work ethic, and it stems from nothing other than an innate desire to do well.
It’s important to note here that money is not a good motivation. It’s external, for one thing, but more importantly, it has nothing to do with the work itself. You need to be intrinsically motivated to sustain a freelance career. The lure of money soon fades in the face of exhaustion, lack of task appeal, personal conflicts and poor work-life balance, to name a few. Money comes easily as a natural result of good work.
Freelancing is a business, and you can’t hope for a solid foundation if you don’t have integrity. You can’t fake it until you make it – unless you’re not really keen on getting anywhere great, and you don’t really want to build a freelance business that will stand the test of time and make you proud.
You must be honest, fair, upright, sincere and honorable in all your dealings as a freelancer if you want to build a freelance business. You must be prepared to do the right thing, even when it isn’t convenient for you. You’re building a reputation, and this is what your freelance business will stand on from the day you get your first client to the day you can say to yourself that you’ve done it.
I can’t stress enough that integrity must be maintained and never compromised. Your character is your most valuable asset.
Stemming from the above is an innate desire to grow personally and professionally. This desire fuels efforts to improve and acquire any soft and hard skills that contribute to your quality as an independent contractor.
Note again that it’s an innate desire and not something that others are telling you to do or that you feel obligated to achieve for fear of losing face or the support and admiration of those around you. You must want to improve yourself for yourself and out of love for your chosen career path. This is what breeds true discipline and the confidence that you need to succeed.
With these 4 key qualities, you will be ready to build a freelance business.
Preparing to Build a Freelance Business
Don’t start hiring a bunch of people and taking on a ton of clients just yet. You’ll likely soon find that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, and this can permanently damage your reputation. You might be raring to go, but you can’t skip the important step of gaining some business experience if you want to build a freelance business that isn’t going to either fail or kill you within its first year.
Freelance Business Experience
Start this stage by taking your freelancing experience to the FreeeUp Marketplace.
Unlike most other freelance websites out there, FreeeUp was built on the core principle of connecting reliable freelance professionals with serious business owners. Armed with the above qualities that you’ve honed through your early freelancing experience, you’ll be a great fit for the marketplace and have no trouble landing quality projects with great clients. This is your springboard to launching a solo business or agency that has the potential to grow and prosper.
So let’s look at the additional qualities that you need to develop to build a freelance business from scratch, and how FreeeUp is the perfect place to do it.
- People Skills
As you freelanced those first few months and years, you surely encountered a variety of different people with different backgrounds and cultures and attitudes, etc. As a self-aware, self-motivated individual with integrity and a desire to improve, it’s inevitable that you would have approached them with the goal of learning from them and forming positive professional relationships with them.
You would have learned how to effectively communicate with people from all walks of life to be able to understand their pain points. You would have learned how you could solve problems for them and how to get this message across to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Through this experience, you become an empathetic motivator. You are an action-oriented problem solver, the exact formula for service business success.
Now, it’s time to level-up in this area by making your people skills even stronger. Even if you’re an introvert or just aren’t a people person by nature, you can succeed here. It’s not about putting on a band-aid solution that will help you win people over. It’s about naturally being that person who is so at peace and in love with your path that you exude confidence and positive energy and strongly desire to help everyone find the satisfaction that you have found. It’s the best and really the only way to “sell” effectively.
And you are selling, just as any business does. You’re just in a position now where you’re selling something that you believe in because it’s the best of who you are, and you’re selling to people who trust you because you’re part of FreeeUp. You are set up for success. All you need to do is be your awesome self, offering only the best efforts for great results, and with a smile to boot.
People Skills for Business
So you’ve been doing business for a while already. What you need to hone here is working with others effectively. As a freelancer, you probably did your own thing most of the time. You likely had some small opportunities here and there to collaborate with other freelancers. For the most part, however, you were not really fully involved. To build a freelance business, you need to learn how to manage tighter working relationships where you take greater responsibility for each person’s output.
A good stepping stone at this point is doing project management work. To build a freelance business, you’ll need organizational skills anyway, and you would have developed a way to keep at least yourself organized as you seriously pursued freelance success. Take what you’ve learned and apply it to organizing not just your clients and projects, but other freelancers’ tasks that make up bigger projects that you’re a part of.
I must warn you to tread lightly here – you want to be helpful, not step on others’ toes. Unbridled ambition can easily lead to arrogance and you’ll quickly get ostracized by your newfound freelance network. If you’re sincerely offering to help make things run more smoothly, you’ll gain valuable experience and get thanked for it, too.
- Leadership and Management
On top of all this, aim to develop the ability to effectively instruct and direct others in a positive, professional manner. Focus on how each of your suggestions will produce a more positive experience and outcome for them as well as everyone else involved. Pay close attention to the advantages of and in every situation to sustain yourself as a positive force within that collaborative environment. In short, start building up your leadership and management skills as you improve your organizational prowess.
Because FreeeUp pre-vets all freelancers who want to work through the platform, FreeeUp is home to the top 1% of applicants. This means that you will be working among the best. This gives you the great advantage of building a strong network of verified professionals like yourself from whom you can learn and with whom you can also share your knowledge and experience. This is the makings of a powerhouse group. You can now begin to envision how this will develop into a robust business headed for success.
- Intelligent Creativity
Over and above empathy and compassion, you need to develop the ability to make practical connections between seemingly unrelated situations or events. You may know how to think outside the box, but you need to expand this outside of your skillset, and from there, outside the range of problem-solution scenarios that you’ve previously encountered.
You can sustain a very profitable freelance career by simply knowing how to spot and fix pain points. You cannot expect to build a freelance business, however, if you can’t intelligently organize more complex systems around bigger needs that require multiple solutions – and multiple skilled hands – working together towards full resolution.
Being open minded and learning from others are key qualities at this stage. You are independent, not driven by others’ ideas or expectations, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t gain from the knowledge and experience of others. Learn to balance independence and openness to develop a stable middle-ground attitude that allows you to reap the full benefits of both worlds. This will help you to:
- see new opportunities in every situation that presents itself,
- seek out additional opportunities,
- know how you can work those opportunities,
- organize manpower within a business, and
- produce a whole that is greater than its constituent parts.
You will begin to see everything in a new light and start to consistently direct your focus towards business goals and objectives.
- Decisive Action
If you want to build a freelance business that’s profitable as well as enjoyable, then you need to be decisive and action-oriented. You must first be a thinker before you can hope to flourish, and through experience, learn to make decisions quickly. This comes through self-discipline and the determination to see decisions through to the desired results. The key is to think slow (carefully) but move fast – don’t let opportunity pass you by.
Here’s one example of how this helps you to build a freelance business that will stand up to the competition:
You think about an area of your business that you want to grow, like skillsets you want to hone or add to your agency. You think about the options you have and how each one will play out. Then you go and do it – you level-up or hire a fellow FreeeUper to supplement your offering.
If you find you’ve made a mistake, you take immediate steps to correct it and move on to the next option. The idea here is to try, and keep trying – don’t get stuck because you’re afraid to take a step. You have to keep moving if you want to get anywhere.
Two important keys to decisive action are mentors and feedback.
You want to surround yourself with experienced freelancers who have been where you are now and have overcome the challenges to success. You can seek out people in your area, read blogs or listen to podcasts. The point is to learn all that you can from them.
Feedback from mentors is great, if you can access it. You can choose a few to really follow closely and build relationships with. But you can also get very valuable feedback from clients and fellow freelancers on a journey to build a freelance business.
- Professional Growth
Never miss an opportunity to improve yourself, whether this is in the area of hard or soft skills. You want to get and stay on top of your game at all times.
Make sure that you still maintain that block of time that you set aside early on for self-improvement. If you prefer to maintain a solo flight rather than form an agency, then you’ll have to decide very early on what you want to focus on and stick to it. Then you keep practicing and leveling up until you are offering the most complete package to clients at the highest level.
If you’re expanding, then you’re not going to learn everything that there is to know about every skillset that your business offers to clients. You’re going to bring other skilled and like-minded freelancers into your agency so that you can build out with supplementary skillsets to complete your offering.
Either way, you should take advantage of the feedback that you can get from the network you have within FreeeUp, from clients, freelancers, assistants and the founders themselves. FreeeUp is full of A-players from the top down, so they are great sources of advice on how to be the best of the best.
Scaling a Business
Once you’ve gained enough freelancing experience to start building outward in addition to upward, you are ready to scale. FreeeUp remains to be the best place for you because of the resources available on the marketplace.
FreeeUp is an abundant source of tips from the fresh advice the most invested member freelancers to the repository of knowledge on the blog. It’s also a rich pool of skillsets that you can flexibly tap into as needed so you don’t have to make a huge investment to explore your growth options.
All you need now is to bring you’re A-game and take that next step.
Julia Valdez is a professional teacher and decades-long lover of the art of words on paper, the stage and the big screen. She spends most of her time doing freelance eCommerce content and project management, adventuring with the Greenhouse Christian Fellowship, volunteering with the Philippine Advocates for Resilient Communities, and sharing lots of laughs over little crazy things.