We’re all living in a world few could have imagined. The coronavirus has reached almost every corner of the globe, turning people’s lives upside down. The pandemic triggered the deepest economic recession in nearly a century, disrupting economic activity and hurting jobs and income.
According to the World Economic Forum, 8.8% of global working hours were lost in 2020, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. By December 2020, 89.7 million American adults reported that it was somewhat or very difficult for them to pay usual expenses.
Consequently, in the last 12 months, millions of people have taken action and put their future in their own hands by going freelance. They chose to start a freelance business not just for its flexibility and variety but as a means of survival during the pandemic.
Read on to discover the challenges of being a freelancer and learn how to start your own freelance business like millions of others during these uncertain times.
How to start a freelance business?
What is a freelancer?
A freelancer is a self-employed professional who offers services to multiple clients. They are free to select projects that are a good fit for their abilities. As a service seller, freelancers usually get paid a set fee per project or an agreed-upon hourly rate.
In a nutshell, starting a freelance business means you work for yourself rather than for a company. Typical examples of a freelancing business are graphics & design, software development, content writing, photography, translation, and programming.
Is a freelance business right for you?
Being a freelancer gives you the freedom of choice. You can work anywhere at any time that suits you. You wouldn’t have to wake up early, travel to work, and spend long hours sitting at your desk. As appealing as it sounds, freelancing is not for everyone.
If you’re considering whether you should start a freelance business, it’s best to weigh up the pros and cons:
- ✔ Flexible working hours
- ✔ Control over your workload
- ✔ Be your own boss
- ✔ Likely to increase income
- ✔ Feel free to be creative
- ✔ Good work-life balance
- ✖ Lack of benefits
- ✖ Unpredictable work offers
- ✖ Unstable income
- ✖ Ultimate responsibility
- ✖ Work alone
If freelancing is still attractive to you, and you believe you can cope with the disadvantages, stop waiting and get on the path to freedom. Whether you want to freelance alongside a full-time job or you want to build your own little empire, the eight steps listed below on how to start a freelancing business are the perfect guide for beginners.
8 Steps to start a freelance business
The freelance market was booming before the pandemic and has grown even larger during it.
Here are eight easy-yet-effective steps to set your first steps in the freelancing world.
1. Map out the big picture
Before you get your hands on the freelance business, you need to determine why you want to begin freelancing in the first place. Once you’ve mapped out your long-term goals – the big picture, you will gain a deep insight into what to do, how to distribute your valuable time, leading to your future success. Without truly knowing what you want to get out of your freelance business, you’re going to have a tough time getting through challenges to achieve your ultimate goals.
An easy way to get to the bottom of this issue is to dig deep down on the question:
Why do you want to start a freelancing business?
Is it because you want to make some money on the side? Or because you want to quit your 9-5 job? Is your income not enough for your current circumstances? Do you think a freelancing business would make your dreams of freedom come true?
Everyone has different reasons for going freelance with different aims and desired outcomes. Spend a reasonable amount of time to look into your inner self and grasp what you really want. Only then can you make plans for and focus on the smaller steps to build a successful and meaningful freelance business.
2. Make sure you understand the risks
Bad things happen in every path in life. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t be well-prepared for that. You can find a lot of information on the Internet about what to expect in this industry, like insecure income, accountability, etc. Still, it’s best to make your own list based on your situation and working field. The more specific your list is, the more it helps you to avoid unfortunate events.
Once you know what risks are lying ahead on the freelancing career path, you’re able to prepare for and minimize any possible damage.
3. Determine your service
Whether you want to be a full-time freelancer or just want to earn some extra bucks, your business will be built on some particular skill set you have to offer.
The simplest way is to start with the skills from your previous jobs. The experience will save you time learning new knowledge, and clients are likely to pay you more, even if it’s your first freelancing project. Also, you can still find many different career paths using that same knowledge and skills. For example, you used to work as an accountant, but you didn’t enjoy it at all. How about writing articles for an accounting website instead?
Yet, if you’re excited to explore something new, invest time in reading books or watching tutorials to develop new skills. The tip here is to choose a skill related to your passion or hobby. For example, if you love traveling, you might want to be a travel content writer or carry out travel industry surveys on behalf of clients. It’ll be more enjoyable and will keep you motivated and inspired throughout your freelance journey.
Maybe you possess more than one potential skill; list them and research under these two perspectives: market demands and financial prospects. It’ll help you narrow down the list and identify which skill will be the most profitable and enjoyable.
4. Find your target customers
Once you know what service you’re going to offer, it’s time to think about who you’re selling to.
For starters, you’ll want to conduct research to build a profile of your ideal clients. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who needs your type of skills?
- What problems are they facing? How can your service solve that? What solutions is the market offering?
- Which businesses can afford the prices you want to charge?
- Who is in charge of outsourcing within these businesses? Can you contact them directly?
After you complete the theoretical checklist, let’s get real by working with your ideal client. Focus on the bigger picture. Getting the right clients with whom you would work best will help you achieve better outcomes in the long run. Don’t be scared to turn down some businesses that don’t meet your requirements.
5. Decide on your prices
How will you price your services when you just start a freelance business? It’s essential to settle on how much you’ll charge and how you’ll charge for your work before offering your services.
There are several pricing strategies for your freelance business, such as fixed project fee, flat fee, or hourly rate. Once you’ve decided on your pricing structure, next is how much exactly you should charge. You can check out the market rates for your type of service by looking on popular freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. This will give you a gauge on the current freelance world, what to expect and what the demand is for your service.
But bear in mind, your price should reflect the value you bring, not just what people are charging online. Don’t be scared that the fee you’re asking is too high. All you need to do is to show you’re the right person to do the job. On the flip side, don’t have astronomical prices that won’t provide value to the client.
Finding the proper pricing for your services will most likely be a matter of trial and error. Keep testing until you find out what works for you and your clients.
6. Create a high-quality portfolio
A client hires you because they trust you can deliver a quality, professional service. Sometimes, especially at the start, you can get a client via a friend or family. But for the future growth of your business, you’d need more than that to get customers. The most straightforward way is to give them reasons to trust you. So, how exactly can you do that?
Build a portfolio.
What is a portfolio?
A portfolio gives a potential client the first impression about your style, your work, and they can see past clients you’ve worked with in your freelance business. In other words, a portfolio is a comprehensive way to pitch yourself.
In order to make an effective and high-quality portfolio, you should include the following information:
- Work samples that are similar to the service you’re offering
- Relevant skills, accomplishments in education, and career in this field.
- Reviews and feedback from your previous projects
- Frequent updates to show your improvement or new projects
- Your contact information
Where to show your portfolio?
Some people share their portfolios on third-party websites like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Dribbble.
Others opt to build their own website to showcase their portfolio. Having a website – your private platform, rather than relying on a third party like social media, will be a huge benefit in the long run. If you do, be sure to produce good content through blog posts or offer free resources to attract visitors who may become your regular customer one day. Plus, learning the ins and outs of those website tools can be a valuable skill for your freelance business.
7. Expand your network
Introduce your freelancing business to everyone you know. Don’t feel shy, as over 80% of freelancers find quality job offers through friends, family, and old acquaintances. It’s a good idea as well to reach out to companies you worked for previously.
However, don’t stop there. Based on the profile of your target customers (step number 3), you can develop a marketing and networking strategy. Take advantage of social media to maintain constant communication between you and your potential buyers. Participate in local industry-related meetings or Internet forums to personally reach potential prospects and professionals in your field. All of this effort will create a fruitful network, assisting your freelance business to go through difficulties and reach its peak.
8. Take it seriously
At the end of the day, it’s customer satisfaction that defines your success. So, don’t treat it as a hobby. This is your livelihood. Just because your client is miles away doesn’t excuse an unprofessional or mediocre performance. Not only should you guarantee high-quality service, meeting all requirements customers ask for, but you need to offer excellent customer service. Statistics show almost 70% of customers would spend more money with a business that provides exceptional customer service. From a quick email response to a friendly attitude, it all adds to your customer’s experience journey.
AccountDock can help you increase your customers’ satisfaction.
AccountDock‘s software gives your customers immediate access to all their receipts & billing history on your website. It shows you care about your clients – one of the key factors differentiating your freelancing business from others. Plus, always present and transparent transaction history is an effective way to gain your client’s trust – the core reason why they buy your service.
How to start a freelance business step by step:
- Map out the big picture
- Make sure you understand the risks
- Determine your service
- Find your target customers
- Decide on your prices
- Create a high-quality portfolio
- Expand your network
- Take it seriously
By following the eight steps in this article, you are ready to start your own freelance business! Also, keep in mind your asset is your skills in freelancing, so constantly improve your skills by learning new knowledge and keeping up with what the market requires.
Starting and running a freelance business is not easy. The road ahead is full of obstacles and stumbling blocks. There will be good days and bad days, but stay persistent. Put your mind into it, maintain high standards, and take ultimate responsibility for your projects.
Do your best, and it’ll pay off.