How To Start A Freelance Business
Dream of walking away from that office job and setting out on your own freelance venture? Most of us aren’t cavalier enough to just wake up one day and decide to step out and go it alone. But for the writers, web designers, photographers, graphic designers and countless others out there who can deliver their entire product remotely, working from home is a tempting proposition with some serious potential.
For those considering taking the leap into remote working, here a few preliminary tips to consider:
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
At least not at first – and not unless you really want to. Okay, so this one is not a firm rule. It comes down to this: most freelance businesses take time to build, which means you probably aren’t going to make enough money to live on.
Focus On Your Portfolio
You can have a degree from the best university in your field and a basketful of credentials. But without a work record that showcases your abilities, potential clients are probably going to be reluctant to hire you for remote work.
None of this is meant to imply that your credentials don’t matter. On the contrary, combine them with links to a sleek online portfolio, and you’ll have a CV that sings your praises. Of course, it has to be acknowledged that producing a portfolio is difficult when you haven’t had any clients yet. But that’s what your day job’s for (assuming it’s relevant to your freelance start-up).
You can also do some pro bono work for a non-profit or even donate your time to a family or friend’s business. And if you find that you can’t give away your work (an unlikely prospect), you can always do a few mock-ups for your own purposes.
Embrace The Social Media Wave
This goes far beyond developing your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presence. There are hundreds of social networking websites built expressly for people that work from home. For example, there are directories out there that list thousands of freelance jobs all in one place.
You can also use sites like this to connect with other providers whose services complement yours. For example, suppose a graphic designer gets introduced to a copywriter and a web designer through a freelancers’ directory. If these three team up, they can market a turnkey solution that delivers websites, fresh copy and an entire logo and design suite in one sleekly bundled package.
Pursue Clients Relentlessly
If only it were that easy. Everyone has their own angle on how to pick up clients – cold calling, trade shows, Christmas cards, old-fashioned advertising and the all-powerful social media suite. But honestly, why choose? Do it all, or at least as much of it as you can. Once you’ve armed yourself with a commanding portfolio, working for free starts losing its appeal.
Look everywhere you can think for potential clients, and once you’ve done that, keep looking. Expect plenty of rejection. That’s why you’re contacting as many potential clients as possible. It’s a numbers game, so don’t be shy. Once you’ve completed those first few projects, ask your new clients for testimonials and redirect these to your website, portfolio and offline promotional materials.
Quit Your Day Job
This is not meant to be ironic. At some point, the work you’re doing from home is going to start interfering with the work you do in the office. Don’t take this step lightly, but when it becomes clear that you could be making more by freeing up your mornings and afternoons, then it’s probably time to quit that day job.
Welcome to the wonderful world of home working!
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