Are you considering a career change that will allow you to have more flexibility and control over your work life? In which case, you may be thinking about becoming a freelancer which means you can work for yourself. It can be a daunting transition when you are essentially creating your own business from scratch, therefore, Social Joy has put together a list of top tips for what you can do before and during your freelancing career.
Before You Start
Choose the right time to transition
The last thing you want to do is take a big gamble to make the jump into freelancing. Jess Eddy tells us that for her several parts of her life fell into place, which meant she could make that leap. She had work lined up, she had some savings to cushion her finances and she also had a skill set that was in demand at that time. Not having any of these factors working in your favor does not mean that you won’t be successful, but you may find it difficult to transition in this circumstance.
This is a big one. A lot goes into getting organised before becoming a freelancer. From finances to branding to networking, and all of it is important to get your career set off on the right foot.
Define Your Process & Set Yourself Goals
According to Emil Lamprecht, you should ‘never, ever, undervalue time taken to plan’. He set himself a goal every day and drafted a personal business plan. This helped him to make the right amount of progress in his business to be able to earn enough money each month as a freelancer.
Get the right tools
In your chosen specialty, you may very well need tools and technology to fulfill that job. In which case, it is extremely important to shop around and find the best tools for you to work with. Also consider time-saving tools, such as social media analytics software (Buffer or Hootsuite) or tasking tools (Trello or Monday). These kinds of tools are useful in prioritizing and reducing the time you spend on completing tasks.
Planning which tools you need and acquiring those resources before you start freelancing is one the most important parts of your planning stage.
This is also an important part of starting your freelancing career on a good note. You may find that it’s prudent to create a website and online portfolio to showcase your work to prospective customers. It is also possible that you’ll need to create up-to-date and good quality social media pages on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This also means marketing yourself in ‘old-fashioned’ ways such as business cards, which are great to distribute at events or if you happen to bump into someone who is interested in your product/service.
As Juliana Weiss-Roessler says, there are plenty of freelancers out there, so whilst your doing all of the above, think about your specialism. What is it that you do better than everyone else and what is your brand identity? Thinking about this can help you to create a personal brand that shows clients what you’re all about.
Figure out your finances
It’s incredibly important to think about your finances before you start your career as a freelancer. It’s a good idea to consider creating a business account to separate your business finances from your personal finances and to understand how taxes work, so that you don’t end up with fines to pay for miscalculating.
More importantly, figure out how much your going to charge your clients. According to Celarity.com you can calculate this by using the following calculation:
Your basic hourly rate = (annual salary + annual expenses + annual profit) / annual billable work hours)
But they also point out that you should decide whether being paid hourly is best for your business or whether you should charge per job.
After You Have Started Work as a Freelancer
Get yourself a mentor and a first client
Mentorship can be extremely useful as a first-time freelancer. Finding a mentor in your sector, who can connect you to a variety of people within the industry, including prospective customers, is a good decision to make as you being your journey. In fact, Lamprecht tells us that your current employer might even be the first step to getting your first client. If this isn’t a possibility for you, go out and find a mentor. Look for mentorship schemes and reach out to people you know to find someone who you think will support your career and help you find customers.
Find out how Social Joy can help you to find a mentor here.
When it comes to clients…
Write it down
It’s incredibly important to have a contract for even the smallest of jobs. Celarity.com says that it helps to solidify a few things, such as:
- The rate negotiated between you and the client
- The parameters and scope of the project
- Revisions or project cancellations
Essentially, a contract protects you from all legal issues, which as a freelancer you don’t want to have to deal with. Find a tool like LegalZoom.com for legal resources.
Get the deposit upfront
It can be difficult being a freelancer and a good way to get some financial stability is to ask for a deposit upfront. You can arrange the payment for the job in a number of ways, but think about what is best for your business. This is another point which aims at getting security for your business.
Get their testimonial
At the end of a successful project, always ask the client for a testimonial. It’s a way of convincing new clients that you have the successful experience of doing a similar job for another company. It attests to your professionalism, your customer service and the quality of your work. Publish testimonials on your website, in marketing PDFs and on LinkedIn, as an up-to-date testimonial is of more value than an old testimonial.
Network, Network, Network!
Your clients are your lifeline, so networking is vital to your day-to-day tasks. Link with industry people on LinkedIn, go to industry events and conferences where you can meet clients and other useful connections. This means that you are improving the visibility of your business and prospective clients are more likely to choose your company if they’ve heard of you.
Set Realistic Expectations
Don’t put pressure on yourself to try and achieve too much, too fast. To begin with you may find it difficult to set these project goals, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get. The most important thing to do is to set out your goals throughout the entire project and try to stick to them. Sometimes these milestones cannot be kept either at the fault of you or the customer, which isn’t a rarity in business but the key is to plan well enough to give both you and the client to get the job done at a good pace.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
It can be difficult to self promote, but it is important that you don’t sell yourself short. This is vital for the occasions when customers want to know why they should pay for you to do the job for them. Weiss-Roessler explains that the key to this is to back up your claims with fact. Show your work and the testimonials of previous clients to prove what you’re saying.
It takes a lot to start a career as a freelancer, but with these tips you should be able to navigate those problems. It’s important to do your research before you embark on this journey, so that you’re prepared to take on the challenge, financially, physically and mentally.