You’ve been thinking about it, dreaming about it. Well, now is the time to take that leap and start your own freelance business. There are incredible opportunities for people who have the skills and the will to do this –and remember, both skill and will are equally important.
Here’s a tried and tested guide to starting your own freelance business.
1. Define your goals
Without clearly defined, easily measurable goals, you will find it difficult to get to where you want to go.
2. Create your business plan
Plan it out before you start. It’s like drawing your own Google map. Chart the path you’d like to take to become a successful freelancer.
Ask yourself these questions:
i) What will your business name and location be?
ii) What is your speciality?
iii) How will you find your clients?
iv) What type of marketing or promotion will you undertake to get your name out there?
v) What results are you looking for?
This would make a simple business plan that will get you started. Write down answers to all these questions so there’s no ambiguity.
3. Draw up a financial plan
You haven’t thought much about this but without a financial plan, your business will be severely handicapped.
So, ask yourself these questions:
i) How much will you charge? If possible, draw up a rate card –and try to find out how it compares with that of others with similar skills and experience
ii) In order to make ends meet, how much will you need to earn each month?
iii) What are the profit margins you would like to have?
iv) Does your current experience justify this cost? What is the extra you can add to make your prices viable?
Invest time to answer these questions in detail. This will give you a better idea of the goals you should be aiming for.
4. Build your brand
You need to create a differentiator that sets you apart from others in the field. Encapsulate it in a few words—and create a simple logo or monogram that will catch the eye and help people remember your brand.
5. Build an online presence
You need to create your own website on which you can draw attention to what makes you different. Upload examples of your best work or successful case studies. Stick to the brand identity that you have created. Consistency is all important.
6. Connect, connect, connect
Connect with as many people as possible on a personal level.
7. Compile a list of potential clients
From this group, identify about 15 potential clients you would like to work with immediately. Do your research to ensure that they represent the right people you need to target. Get their latest contact information.
8. Find your first client
From your list of 15, zero in on your first potential client. Start by introducing yourself. Let him or her know what you have to offer (after first identifying what they are lacking). Inform the prospect about your services, what you can do specifically for him or her and in what precise way you can help improve profitability.
9. Repeat the process with other potential clients
Repeat this process again and again, as you go down the list of the potential clients you have shortlisted. Make every pitch specific to the client you are addressing and his or her needs. Review what has worked and what hasn’t and amend your pitch accordingly
10. Turn successful work into case studies
Every successful project you complete should be turned into a case study to help you win more clients.
Follow all these steps. Be consistent and persevere, never deviating from the task. Soon you’ll build a reputation, win more clients and see your business grow.