The flexibility of freelancing encourages professionals working in a typical eight-to-five office to forego their traditional careers and jump into freelance. Starting a freelance business is like starting your own company from the ground up. It may seem easy with just your skills, a laptop, and a good internet connection.
However, to succeed, you need as much focus as an entrepreneur trying to make a name for his first product.
What if you were starting from zero? No name, no network, just your skills, a laptop, and enough money for you to survive the next month. How could you start your own business and start earning?
There are a lot of comprehensive guides the internet can offer; all you have to do is to look around. In a nutshell, the steps to starting your own freelance business involve the following:
- Identifying your skill set
- Finding a platform and network of people who can give you projects
- Set up processes that will simplify your tasks, allowing for more clients
- Develop your portfolio and expand your network to land more referrals
FreeeUp has a large pool of freelancers belonging to the top 1% of professionals in the ecommerce industry. Their expertise combined with their passion to make freelancing a self-supported business has brought about success in their careers.
This article provides the chance for all who aspire for independent work life to get serious about starting a freelance business. Let’s hear some of the FreeeUp experts share personal tips on getting started, managing, and growing their freelance business.
Initiative To Start
A business needs an idea, a well thought out plan, and action. The secret to success in starting a freelance business is not stopping half-way through the panning process. Let these experts inspire you into taking the initiative and pursuing your plans.
1. Don’t be afraid of trying!
“Those who don’t jump will never fly. Don’t be afraid to start your business! Those who strive for success are not afraid to fail. Jump and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.” ~Joe M.
2. Have a business mindset.
“For me, it’s all about changing from a freelancer mindset to that of a digital entrepreneur. You work to not just take on more hours, you’re now managing a business.” ~Jericho S.
Getting The Right Client
The global reach of remote working allows freelancers to collaborate with a wide array of clients. Finding the right niche in order to work with businesses that will match your expertise is very important. Here are additional tips on getting the right projects with the right clients.
3. Find your niche.
“My number one tip would be to not be afraid of niching down… Someone is more likely to hire you if they feel you are exactly for them!” ~Flavio M.
4. Find your specialization.
“My #1 tip is to focus on one domain instead of multiple domains and then pitch to potential clients with questions that show your product knowledge instead of narrating why you are the best.” ~Ramanand D.
5. Utilize your skill set.
“Apply to as many projects as you can find within your skillset. Sometimes, for as many as 10 leads, you’ll land 1 new client. Hustle!” ~Kelsey S.
6. Write effective cover letters.
“My number one tip to freelancers that are just starting their business is to master their craft. And learn how to write an effective cover letter, learn how you can convince the client that they should schedule a Skype call with you. If you get the client to interview you, half of the battle is won.” ~Arvin G.
7. Personalize your sales pitch.
“First Impressions Last. Do not ever rush cover letters, introductions or make it so generic. Add extra effort and personalize it.” ~Danzyll J.
8. Know the position and company your are applying for.
“Be prepared. As with any kind of application, corporate or freelance, you must do your own research about the client and task. Take your time to know what you want, what you can really do, and which service you can really provide. Figure out what you’re really good at before sending out proposals or resumes. Doing so will not only make you stand out from other applicants, but will also boost your confidence when it’s time for the interview.” ~Jan B.
Running Your Business
Starting a freelance business involves getting more projects, but not just any kind. When looking for work, you have to consider your competencies, your passion, and your goals for your business. Set up effective business processes and acquire the right freelancer tools.
9. Know your worth.
“Know what your skill level is and know your worth. Try not to accept projects that offer lower rates than the benchmark in that area. When I was starting out, I thought I was being paid reasonably high, but on the global scale, I was not. I was accepting lower-rate work just because I needed it, and that actually negatively affects the entire scale of market rates in the long run.” ~Hazel A.
10. Love what you do.
“My number one tip is to take on the projects that you really are passionate about and can excel at, and that challenge you a bit to learn and work hard, be accurate and fast. Most importantly, love what you do.” ~Dorron S.
11. Time management is the key to more opportunities.
“The #1 tip I can give to freelancers is to maximize your time! You can find excellent opportunities as long as you practice perfect time management and prioritization. Quoting, “Dreams don’t do unless we do.” In freelancing, the business opportunity is already posted on the platform — we just need to dive in!” ~Edward D.
12. Think in terms of systems.
“If you want to deal with your clients without errors and friction, you need a thorough set of processes which help you sift through the details and establish rapport with your clients on all points of concern — in other words, a client processing system.
If you want to produce work efficiently without dealing with confusion, you need a production system, again composed of processes which help you research, conceptualize, align expectations with your client, produce the assets and finally implement without wasting time or omitting details which will pull you back later.
The simplest way is to use checklists – lists of everything that needs to be done within a limited, controllable field. This is easier said than done, and has to be done for each service you offer separately (which is why it’s best you offer as few services as possible until you master them completely), but done thoroughly (ideally air-tight, with nothing left to chance, knowing Murphy’s Law holds no mercy). This brings predictability to your time and work, and significantly boosts both yours and your clients’ confidence in your service.
If you don’t do it, even if you have a streak of great clients where everything runs smoothly, once your work for them is done and you hit a dry spell, you’ll feel like you’ve been reverted to the amateur level and you have to start everything all over.” ~Nenad S.
Growing The Business
Your freelance business grows from your first project and beyond. Invest in your professional development and set up a good reputation within your network. Once you have reinforced your expertise within your niche, grab the opportunity to earn more with new clients.
“Starting a freelance business requires completing whatever projects you can get to earn money. As you grow your network, you also need to look for projects that will build your portfolio in your preferred direction. Whenever you don’t have paid work going on, develop your portfolio by accepting projects that pay a little but give you new experience.” ~Muriel R.
14. Establish your empire at your target pace.
“Learn as fast as you can and build your empire. Invest in your skills first, so that in time, you’ll be confident enough to pitch to your client what you can do for them. Focus on a single target market and always put the client first. This way, people will know you’re helping and providing solutions for them and not just completing the hourly tasks. And now you are building an empire. Then learn, record, and repeat, improving your portfolio.” ~Dijae D.
15. Engage within your community to expand your network.
“My tip would be to foster community with your fellow freelancers; it surprised me how much I missed my colleagues after leaving the corporate world.” ~Jeremy S.
16. Starting a freelance business requires genuine care for your work.
“Truly care – if you don’t love what you do and who you do it for, then you will ALWAYS run into issues. Truly care about your work in all aspects and you will never have to look for clients. Your passion for professionalism and diligence in making sure everything is done to the best of your abilities will carry your freelance career forward.
I wish I knew when I first started freelancing how to value my abilities and how to balance that with making a name for myself outside of what I could “prove” with documented experience. It can be hard to set out on your own — even when you’ve been freelancing for a while but you’re pitching on a new marketplace where you don’t have any kudos yet — especially if you have NDAs for almost all the work you’ve ever done.
If, however, you make an effort to show what you can do through a solid application, a fluid interview, and an excellent test project, you don’t have to sell yourself short by taking on just any project you can get your hands on.” ~Julia V., FreeeUp Blog Content Manager
Now that you have an idea of how to start, it’s time to take action. Think of the things you are capable of doing and have experience to back up. Collect all the useful work you have completed in the past to add to your portfolio and profile.
Next is to find clients. The fastest way is to join online platforms for freelancers like FreeeUp. By signing up and providing a detailed portfolio, hiring experts match you with the right projects and introduce you to clients. The opportunities are already there — you just need to grab them!
As you continue to build your reputation in the freelance industry, you can slowly expand your business by outsourcing — hiring freelancers yourself. Some clients prefer a contractor who is able to provide all the skills they need for an important aspect of their business. You may be able to find those skills from different professionals who can work together with you to produce better and more efficient results.
Leaving your office career in exchange for flexibility in terms of time and work can be a difficult decision. Most professionals are afraid to start a freelance business, especially if they don’t have enough capital. But if you think about it, you don’t need much to start freelancing.
Again, it’s just you, your laptop, and the internet. Along with some tips from the experts, you are set to jump-start your freelance career. Have the initiative to create and expand your business from nothing into something you can be proud of.
Lailah Paredes is an engineering student, creative entrepreneur, and a self-confessed island girl. As a travel junkie, she loves experiencing different cultures and sharing them through her writing. Read about her travels across the beautiful islands of the Philippines at her blog.