Have you ever felt a sense of dread that you may be stuck at your job... forever?
Deep down you know you've got the talent & skills needed to create something great. You've got a fire burning in you and a passion for what you do. All you need is a push in the right direction — a guide to show you the way.
Perhaps what you seek is going out on your own. Being your own boss. Living the freelance life.
Well, you're in the right place.
Let's dive right into everything you need to know about how to start a freelancer business.
Almost a quarter of all startups fail before they reach their 2nd year. There are a ton of reasons why failure happens from lack of capital to tough competition. Two of the big ones that deserve their own section in this guide are mentality and research.
Without the mindset & drive, it's unlikely you'll succeed in business. The same goes for whether you're going in completely blind or have at least some semblance of what you're doing (and what you're up against).
Burning deep inside you is the entrepreneurial 'flame'.
The 'flame' is that feeling that you've got to build something great. It's a feeling that your purpose is taking on the challenge of starting a business. Knowing how to leverage this spark and flame is a driving factor in your business success.
Having a reason as to why you're starting a freelance business is important for a few reasons:
Some start businesses because they have something to prove to themselves. Some entrepreneurs start businesses to disrupt an industry they loathe. Some freelancers get into it because it was a natural progression of their work and growth.
Whatever's your "why", just make sure it empowers you to commit.
It's important to gather resources that'll help get a start in freelancing — like:
If it helps, mimic your current work and gather the resources that you're using now. Or, reflect this new business entity around the lean startup methodology where it's only the essentials. The point is to know where to go when you run into barriers.
You've defined why you're building a freelance business. You stoked the entrepreneurial flame. You've also gathered resources. Now, you'll begin laying the groundwork for what'll define (pretty much) all of your business efforts.
Knowing your skills & talents:
Examine what tasks and projects you're doing already (at work).
Think of what you're learning and building toward, too. If it helps, do a SWOT analysis to figure out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The goal of this exercise is to come up with a shortlist of what marketable skills and talents you can offer businesses.
It shouldn't deter you when you find others offering the same things you have in mind! In fact, you should see competitors as a welcoming challenge that'll fuel your entrepreneurial drive. Competitors may turn into your greatest allies, too, in some instances!
Why go through the trouble of competitor research — well, you can:
You're effectively leveraging the competition to reveal what is (and isn't) working. This saves a ton of time and resources. It also verifies whether your skills & talents are enough to support the freelance biz!
The last thing you'll do during the early-on research is get an idea of the audience.
If you can understand what the audience wants and needs then you're off to an amazing start. Start by:
The words you say and use in marketing/ad copy will reflect what they want to hear. The products you deliver solves the problem they have. By aligning so well, your business cultivates dedicated clients and passionate followers.
The next phase of building your freelance business is a bit of a whirlwind because it'll come together so fast! By now, you've got an idea of what you're offering and who you're offering it to. You've also got a vision and feel driven to pursue and commit to this launch. Great! Let's now go through what's needed to set up your professional business presence.
When people talk about starting a freelance business they're usually referencing this part of the process. Specifically, the part where you're setting up a website/portfolio and doing some marketing.
The reason you did all the stuff prior is that those actions align with the business goals. The efforts also create the foundation for (basically) everything else that comes during and after this point.
There are a few ways to set up a website for your freelance business:
Let's look at these a bit more...
If you've got the time and resources, building a site from scratch offers the best flexibility. Though, site builders have come a long way and offer a ton of features and benefits. It may be easier to simply use and tweak a site template vs handcrafting the site. This lets you set up faster — meaning you can start earning money sooner.
A few builders worth trying include:
Many offer a free plan to help newcomers get started. For a few bucks each month, you can expand the features of these site builders. These tools also include themes, templates, and plugins for easier development and added flexibility.
You could also hand the site development off to professionals.
Here, you'll negotiate a deal for the site service and see through its completion. Depending on your budget, this could be a simple site to one that's quite extensive and expertly tuned for sales.
Check out freelance marketplaces like:
Here, you'll outline your site plans with the developer. They'll provide an outline and wireframe based on your ideas/goals. If approved, they'll start building the site. If copywriting isn't included, you'll want to write it yourself or hire writers.
Want to set up a physical location for your freelance business? This can be a good option if you've got the money to spare. You'll still want to set up a site for the business, regardless, so make sure that's done first. Then, do the following:
There's a little more to all that but you get the idea. Once set up physically, you'll gain the benefit of foot traffic. You could also host client meetings on location. And, it may make it easier for work/life balance.
Your freelance website/portfolio is where most clients will find you. The other component is your social media presence. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's consider some of the final pieces needed to put your business together.
You can either gather up what you have or invest in new hardware:
Each freelance business is different so you may need to include specialty items. But, for the most part, these are the main items needed to get set up. You have your tool (computer) to work from and an environment to operate (office essentials).
Invest in the software you used when working a normal job. If it's outside of your budget, look for open source solutions as an alternative.
One of the best investments you can make when starting out is through our very own software and solutions! The Hectic's app and platform are feature-rich, offering several important services needed for successful operations.
Our app includes elements that will make your freelancing life easier — such as:
Our app also includes access to our growing team of professionals and advisors. It's like having a full workforce ready to take care of your business needs.
The 3rd phase of setting up a freelance business is getting your name out there. It also involves bringing in clients. And, setting up the business so it functions without it being a chore and frustrating experience.
Let's dig into making money with your business.
The hardest part of starting a business is finding and landing your first client.
People don't know who you are nor do you have a lot to back up your claims. People often want to work with established players vs taking a risk. But, there are a few clever ways to overcome the barriers faced early on.
Take time to figure out what works and what doesn't when going after clients. Ditch those actions with little return and double-down on those that work well. Once you get a couple of clients, you can begin asking for referrals. You also gain experiences and portfolio pieces to look even better to potential clients!
Ready to amplify your reach in landing leads and locking in clients? Try some of these lead generation ideas:
There are a lot of ways to market your freelance business if you've got the time. Most are inexpensive and even those that do cost money aren't that big of a money sink. Try out a bit of everything and (again) double-down on what works.
Keep doing this cycle of lead generation and projects and you'll make good money!
You'll have established your freelance business with enough effort and by following the tips so far. The next challenge is to refine the business so it's poised to scale.
You want to create a lean operation that functions without constant hang-ups. The ideal freelance business is one where the bulk of your effort is in the actual work. You don't want to spend all day doing the slog work, basically.
What are some ways to free up time, be productive, and make money? Consider:
Your goal is to make things mechanical — where the business functions if you need to take a break. This effort also lets you bring on talent and easily onboard them through documentation. You also gain an exit strategy since it's becoming a bit hands-off.
In all, you're bringing it all together so the business functions efficiently.
There's a lot to process having gone through this topic of how to start a freelancer business.
The key takeaway, if anything, is that you don't have to necessarily have everything in place before you launch. If you've got the skills & talent, get your name out there, and land a client or two, then you're in business! Everything else will fall in line given you've got the drive and you stay lean throughout its operations and growth.
So, what are you waiting for? Turn your talents into a viable business opportunity today. And, let's touch base and see how we can collaborate in helping you find great success along the way!