Guide to Starting Your Own Freelance Business

Freelancers are often the envy of salaried employees. Imagine working when and where you like. Imagine not having to ask permission to go on leave. Imagine being your own boss.

While all this sounds great, freelancing also has its challenges. The most important thing is that you need to be at the top of your field and reliable. If you are confident about these two requisites and really want to launch into the world of freelancers, here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you get started.

  1. Build your personal brand – You should be able to communicate as compellingly as possible, who you are, what you can offer in terms of expertise and what makes you different. To do this, create a domain name that’s easy to remember, easy to spell and pronounce, and appropriately descriptive – it should say something and preferably tie-in with what you do.
    Your domain name should be accompanied by a 150-word explanation of what your business is all about.

  2. Create a logo –  This should be a memorable encapsulation of your domain name—something that stands out. A professionally-designed logo is a good investment.

  3. Create a website –  A website is essential for freelancers in this competitive world. It should be professional-looking. Get the best website designer you can afford. Your website will have several elements but the most important are: an introduction, which is a statement about yourself and your vision; your services; examples of your work and references from previous clients; and contact details.

  4. Optimise your network presence – Make sure you are active on LinkedIn and other professional sites so people who are looking for freelancers in your field can find you. Regularly get referrals from clients to post on your LinkedIn profile.

  5. Leverage social networks – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will help you build trust and credibility with your audience.

  6. Invest in good financial management – Freelancers often lose out by not managing their finance properly from the beginning. It is important to get an online financial management tool to enable you to receive payments and also manage your invoices and monthly cash flow.

  7. Track where your time goes – Many freelance jobs are charged according to the time spent on them. It would be wise to get a time-tracking tool that will enable you to do this accurately for every project.

  8. Set professional rates for your work – Your work and the service you offer have to be top-notch so you can command the right fee. It’s good to get a benchmark of what others at your level of experience and expertise charge. You should be competitive in your charges and also keep in mind what the market will bear.

  9. Invest in legal services – There are contracts and other documents that need to be looked at by a legal consultant. It makes sense to have one on board to deal with all legal issues.

As a freelancer, you are a one-person team. You need to build your business around your talents and skills. You need to be a sought-after expert in your field to succeed as a freelancer and you need a tremendous amount of drive and determination. Make yourself familiar with every aspect of the job –from branding to rates, client liaison and the mechanics of accounting.

You have the freedom to be your own boss and chart your own destiny – but with it come hard work, responsibility and discipline.

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