Everyone glorifies quitting the 9-5, sticking it to the man and running away to start their own business. They talk about travelling the world and being the “best version of them self”.
But that’s not actually the reality. There’s sleepless nights, anxious emails, frustrated conversation and constant doubt. So to make our lives easier, we’ll try to compile the most amount of guidelines that we can refer to help keep us on track.
Think of this as your Wikipedia for “How to Build a Freelancing Business”.
How to Start a Profitable Freelancing Business
All The Research You Need To Learn How To Make Money!
Hone Your Craft
Always Be Improving Your Skills!
Curiosity and creativity are keys to opening opportunity for you to grow. When you are always working on your craft, things will begin to come your way. At least that’s what I believe. Make sure that you put your work out into the world, and try to make it known that this is what you do. You don’t always need be booking clients to work on your skills do but you can always decide to create work on your own.
But you’re not here for some inspirational shit. And by no means would I ever want you to work for free. If you’re good at something you should get paid to do it. So I’m tracking what helps in the journey of my freelancing career. Here’s what I’ve found to help us get started off on the right foot.
Why do you want to start a freelancing business?
Like I said before there’s too many people that over hype freelancing and quitting their 9-5 to stick it to “the man”. Freelancing and running a business is hard, so if you’re in this for an easy way out. You got another thing coming for you.
Don’t start freelancing because it’s popular, or you believe it’s an easier way to make more money. Don’t do it because you think it means you can instantly turn your passion into a profitable business. And definitely don’t choose freelancing solely for the promise of a glamorous nomadic lifestyle.
You got to understand why you want to freelance in the first place because this will allow you to ground yourself when times get tough (they will get though). Your reasons can be simple. You could simply just want to spend more time with your family, cut down your commute time or give yourself a creative outlet. Whatever the reason you need to understand this so that you’ll be able to track your successes and failures.
- Define and record 5 reasons you want to freelance.
- For each one come up with a freelance related goal
- Set the deadline to complete it in three-months
Build your Client List
Be Counter-Intuitive, Use Your Personal Network.
When I started out freelancing I can’t lie. I was sold on the nomadic lifestyle, and I thought it would be easy. Just fill out a couple applications on Freelancer and the money would start piling in. There are lots of blogs that claim that it is possible. But for me it was not like that at all.
What I suggest for you todo is to ignore that advice. All those networks are just a race-to-the-bottom and if you’re reading this you probably need some money. The best thing to do, is to reach out to your personal network (friends, family, co-workers, etc.)
But that gives me so much anxiety. I hate reaching out and asking my friends to pay me for things. So what I did instead was to build my portfolio and toss up ads. I targeted extra local companies. Local connections make for greater trust, easier communication, and less competition.
The main goal is to gain freelancing experience. While I truly believe you must be paid well, I’ve lost so many projects because I thought I should be paid more. The problem was that realistically I had no idea how much I should charge if I haven’t actually taken on any projects.
The experience and expertise each project brings will help improve the skills you need to build a successful freelancing business. You need to learn the business soft-skills that make you a reliable, professional asset to your clients.
Learning how to organize a small business, how to communicate well and set clients expectations, how to manage your time and your projects. How to be a professional. Every project you take on teaches you those lessons over and over again.
- Hone your craft and build your portfolio
- Reach out to your family, friends and colleagues
- Talk to local businesses, engage in your community
- Play around your pricing, never work for free
- Bask in the experience; grow your skills in negotiating, explaining things with you clients and managing multiple projects.
Play the long game
Build your businesses relationships & reputation
The number one way to build a sustainable, full-time freelance career is to build quality professional relationships with satisfied clients who love to refer you to their friends and colleagues. Word of mouth referrals are where the best work comes from, so even your earliest freelance efforts should be directed at generating these types of relationships.
That’s why working on cheap gig marketplaces doesn’t get you very far. The relationships you make there are often impersonal transactions that don’t build any real reputation beyond the un-portable internal ratings within those platforms.
"Know where you want to go and make sure the right people know about it."
– Meredith Mahoney
However, establishing a successful freelance business is about playing the long game. Every client you partner with, and every project you focus on, should be another step towards building the freelance career you imagine. Define your ideal clients, and then plan how to market your skills and build your reputation in order to attract them and win their trust.
Be patient. Keep your feet on the ground, and settle in for a commitment to delivering your best effort for every client, on every project. Be consistent about being professional, and the results will come.
- Make it clear that you can solve problems (Build your portfolio)
- Set up processes that allow you to streamline the way you get stuff done and get new clients (Quotes, Invoices, Scripts, etc.)
- You don’t always need to be selling (that stuff is annoying).
- Meet people, build relationships and let people know what you do.
Research and Notes
Amazing Design People
Videos to Watch
- Launch A Creative Business In Your 40s? Ep.1 Series Premiere | The Futur
- An Introvert’s Guide To Getting Clients & Networking— Ep2 | The Futur
- How To Structure A Proposal For Web & Branding Projects Ep.3 | The Futur
- Secret Power of Introverts— Being A Great Listener ep. 4 | The Futur
- How To Run A Profitable Business & Make Money | The Futur
Articles to Read
- The right way to start freelancing | Benek Lisefski [Medium]
- Don’t Become a Freelancer | Benek Lisefski [Medium]
- Digital nomad? Nope. I chose the freelance life so I can stay at home | Benek Lisefski [Medium]
- How I earned $15,000 last month from freelance design | Benek Lisefski [Medium]
- What to charge as a freelancer: does value-based pricing live up to the hype? | Benek Lisefski [Freecodecamp]
- The Ultimate Guide To Starting A Freelancing Business | Brennan Dunn [Doubleyourfreelancing]
- Start a Freelancing Business While Working Full-Time | Ryan Robinson