If you’ve ever thought about striking out as a freelancer, you’ve likely been drawn in by the effortless life of working from home and clients tripping over each other for your services.
But the not-so-pretty side of freelancing is sure to pop its head up sooner or later; struggling to convince clients to hire you after months of no work and your spouse saying it’s time to get back into the regular workforce.
Freelancing may not be the easiest way to make a living, but if you have the motivation and ambition, there’s something in it for you. Before you go all out and quit your job, use this outline to map out your freelancing plan (not just for you, but maybe for your spouse, too).
Know Your Skills & Services
Before anything else, you need to determine what work skills you have and what services people might be looking for. Are you an editor or a photographer? Do you write marketing liners like a pro? Have you got a few years of web development under your belt?
Whatever it is that you can already do, it’s time to dig deeper. Because it’s not enough just to possess those skills, you need to know how to wield them like an expert. Do a quick search on the internet for that type of work and how it compares to your skills.
If you’re not quite up to par, that’s okay. You can still get work without being the best of the best; however, this is a key time to look into improving your skills so you can expand your services and offer the quality that higher-paying clients are looking for.
Determine Your Target Client
After assessing your skill set and skill level, you can’t expect to acquire every potential client you pitch. You want to be strategic about who you are pitching to. Will the CEO of a large corporation be interested in being your first web design project? It’s not very likely.
You need to match up your current skill set with similar clients or maybe those a little higher up that can push you to improve your services even as you’re getting paid. Don’t forget to take note of the standard rates other freelancers on your level are charging, too. You’ll want to be competitive, so you may start with rates lower than you’d like.
But in the end, you need to make a profit as well, and serious clients will understand that. You can negotiate fair rates for different projects and clients, and as you prove yourself, building your portfolio, you can start raising your rates and looking for bigger clients.
It’s All About Presentation
If you have a tough time showing confidence and holding your own, freelancing may be tough for you to break into, but it’s not a dealbreaker. If you want to find clients, you need to start by looking presentable on paper, in person, and on the web. With a professional wardrobe and a sleek website, you’ll be building a foundation for clients to trust.
Your website is especially important these days, as it serves as your main platform for providing detailed information and gaining the trust of potential clients. So don’t try to cut corners; instead make sure you have an SSL certificate, as Smartly Done Websites recommends, routinely update your content, and don’t let your website get overrun with ads.
For the hesitant freelancer, it may be a good idea to practice networking skills by attending events related to your field and even taking courses in public speaking. They might not seem fun at first, but the boost in confidence will pay off, especially if it convinces a potential client that you do take their work seriously and want to give them your best.
Setup & Workflow
Now let’s talk about the actual work you’ll be doing. As a new freelancer, you’ll likely be charging per hour, so make sure you are tracking and recording all the time you work on a project, including any additional research or design you’ve agreed to.
Create a workflow that works for you but also keeps you on target for deadlines. Work with your client to determine whether you’ll share snapshots of the project during the course of your work and what specific materials they will receive on completion; an editor may provide editorial notes, or a photographer might include the original and edit versions of their images.
There are plenty of free and paid tools out there for you to use that can also generate invoices and track several projects at once. And if you’re ready to finally give it a go, just remember that everything you’ve set out to get started will need adjustments as you move ahead, so don’t worry if things changes because it’s probably for the better.