Have you always dreamed of living the freelance lifestyle? Finding clients, managing projects, and working from home are all possible with the right help. In this post, we’ll look at what you can do to set yourself up for a successful freelancing career.
It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when freelancing wasn’t the norm. These days it’s estimated that over 59 million Americans earned a living as freelancers this past year. The freelance industry has grown considerably – the growth is so impressive that income from working freelance jobs was put at almost $1.2 trillion in 2020. And that number is only going to increase.
As more and more people start their freelance careers, the competition increases. And it seems that everyone you meet has a business idea or wants to set up as a consultant.
When you wake up on day one of your new freelance career, you will need a plan. So, here are our top tips to get you up and running in no time – and be the successful freelancer you are meant to be.
Set your goals
As with any project, it’s important to set goals. This includes how much money you want to earn, what kind of clients you want to work with and what you’re going to be doing.
First, you need to understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie. And then, set goals that will allow you to move forward by leveraging those skills as much as possible.
Of course, you need to have a plan for the first few months of your freelance career so that you can build up your client base. But, you also need to have a goal for the future so that your business can grow organically.
Having goals helps you to understand where you are now, and allows you to see what the future looks like. As a freelancer, your goals can change as your business grows. So, you’ll need to reassess your goals at regular intervals.
Once you have your goal, make sure that the strategy you use will help get you there.
So, what are your goals? Write them down. Even if it’s just something small – like being able to pay a bill. Your goals should be realistic, achievable and able to fit into your current lifestyle.
Create a schedule
Writing down your goals is a good start – but it’s not going to get you anywhere. Once you have your goals, think about what needs to happen on a weekly basis to help you achieve them. It may be something as simple as replying to a few emails, or updating your social media accounts. Whatever it is, it needs to be something you can do.
Successful freelancers are organized people – so if you want to be one, you need to get organized. Sit down and work out what your day looks like. How much time do you spend socializing? How much time do you spend working? What sort of tasks can you get done in a day, and what needs to happen on a weekly basis. Once you have that information, it becomes a lot easier to work out how much time is needed for your goals.
Make the most of your spare time
There’s only so many hours in the day, and once you’ve spent time working or socializing, there won’t be much left. But, there may be a few spare minutes here and there. If you can find even one hour of free time in your day, it will help give you the extra time needed to achieve your goals.
Bottom-line: Your freelance journey should be focused. Like a traveller, your goals and schedule should allow you to keep moving in the right direction. And, if all else fails and you get stuck – make sure that your spare time is not wasted.
Research and choose a niche
Doing generalist work will keep you working all the time, but it’s not going to be fulfilling. Choose a niche and make sure you know everything about it inside out.
Many freelancers fail because they don’t choose a niche and become the jack of all trades. They try to do everything, but end up not being any good at anything.
Set Godin puts it:
“The problem with the largest possible audience is you can’t reach them, you can’t delight them, you can’t matter to them…”
When you choose a niche, it’s easier to market yourself and highlight your strengths. It also allows you to specialize which will help with gaining your client base.
Sit down and think about what you love doing the most – or feel like you’re best at. Then, choose a niche around that so you can maximize your strengths and get to where you want to be in 2022.
For example, you could be a web designer. But, there are different types of design work you can do – like visual design, app design, or interface design.
It might be easier to choose a niche based on what you love doing the most. But, think about whether it will be sustainable long term.
So, what is your niche? Write down as many ideas as you can think of and then narrow it down to one field.
Most importantly ensure you have the prerequisites for your chosen niche. Otherwise it will be harder to make the most of this opportunity and achieve success.
Network and find clients
Building a successful business is about being visible. That means you need to market yourself not only on the internet, but also in real life. Networking is an excellent way to meet people who may need your services, or already use them.
You’ll also need to build a good online presence. So, start by researching your competitors and building up as much knowledge about them as possible. This will help you to find out how they are promoting themselves, and what their strategies are. Once you have that information, think about the best way for you to promote yourself.
Know this: the best work isn’t always going to come your way, so make sure you’re speaking with other freelancers, attending networking events and having meetings.
You need to:
Get your portfolio website up and running
A website is a great way to promote yourself and your work online, but it’s only going to be half as good if you don’t have any work to show off.
Which is why…
You need to start building your portfolio before you get clients – otherwise, it’s going to be impossible for you to get your name out there.
Start by working with some friends and people you know, then gradually build up a portfolio that you can use to market yourself online.
And, it’s a good idea to have a website with your portfolio on it because:
- It’s more professional
- You’ll be able to customize it however you want, and It makes the job of promoting yourself easier.
Take some time out each day to work on your personal branding
You need to be working hard all the time, but you also need to make sure that you’re not neglecting yourself.
It’s important to take some time out each day to work on your personal branding. This can include anything from updating your social media, working on your website, or just spending time researching.
The most important thing is to always be learning and improving yourself so that you can become the best freelancer out there.
Use a freelance website
Starting out as a freelancer can be tough, but there are some websites that make the process easier.
For example: Upwork is an excellent place to find clients, and Hiremotely.com is an excellent niche-based platform for software developers to find high-paying organizations.
These websites make it easy to get started, and they allow you to filter clients and work, so that you only have the best projects coming your way.
Which brings me onto my final point…
Focus on the best clients and projects
You’re going to find that some projects just aren’t worth your time. So, you need to learn how to filter clients and work.
It’s important not to take on projects that you don’t enjoy, because it will show in your quality of work.
Give value for free!
It’s all very well wanting to make money with your business, but you also need to make sure you are providing real value to your clients.
One way of doing this is by offering services for free, or at a discounted rate, to help them get a feel for what you can offer.
This will lead on to more opportunities and higher paying projects later down the line, so it’s almost like you’re getting something for nothing!
After all, you can’t be successful without helping people.
Use Social media to connect with your clients
Social media has become one of the most important ways for businesses to market themselves. This includes freelancers, so make sure you’re involved from the start.
So, start by building up a strong following on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Make sure you’re sharing interesting posts about the industry, as well as your own content where possible – you need to be engaging with your audience.
And… don’t forget your LinkedIn! You need to have a great profile on LinkedIn, and be using it to market yourself.
Automate your business
You don’t want to spend the majority of your time doing admin work, so make sure you automate your business wherever possible.
You can do this by investing in some software to help you with things like accounting, or using apps that allow you to automate your social media.
This will save you a ton of time and money, making it easier to focus on the important stuff like getting more clients.
Speaking of which, some freelance platforms offer tools for automation, so that will help you to some extent as well. This includes tasks such as client management, and invoicing.
Think long term
No matter how good things are right now, the only way is up if you keep working hard and staying dedicated.
The more quality work you do, the better your reputation will get. This means that clients are going to be beating down your door for years to come.
Get a mentor
Most beginners have a number of questions when they first start freelancing. As someone planning to go the entire mile on this journey, you need to find a mentor.
A mentor will be able to guide you through the entire process and help you avoid mistakes that cost you time and money. They will also be able to help you understand the industry better, so that your work is valued more highly by future clients. To be honest: it will be much easier to find success if someone experienced is looking out for you.
There are plenty of resources online – including this blog post – which will answer the majority of your questions.
And… don’t forget to ask your peers in Facebook groups or other forums, because they will be able to provide you with insight into what it’s like working as a freelancer.
It might seem daunting at first, but as long as you work hard and learn from those around you, with a little bit of luck it will be smooth sailing.
For those who want to start their freelance career in 2022. It’s a whole new way of life and many freelancers believe that it’s much easier to take the leap if you prepare yourself and your work accordingly. The tips above are just the beginning. If you want to start your freelance journey in 2022, or in 2030, or whenever else, don’t be afraid to give them all a try. After all, practice makes perfect, right?