As a freelancer, you can view the world as a series of opportunities. On the plus side is a lot of freedom to plan your day but it also requires discipline. You are your own boss and you need to be good at making the right rules to succeed.
The first thing you need to do is make a marketing/business plan. Put everything on paper: what you want to achieve and the important issues and challenges you face. Once you see it all on paper, you will be able to think clearly and make decisions before you’ve taken the plunge. It will also help you get the help and support you need to meet your goals.
Freelancers are usually challenged economically. You may want to wait till the money comes rolling in to invest in your business. However, there are some things that need an infusion of capital for you to get going. Do the math carefully. You can use free software. If it’s really good and relevant to your business, go ahead and install it but don’t do it just because it’s free. You may also need to buy some premium tool that will make you more productive.
You need to brand yourself and that means creating an eye-catching logo. This should set you apart in your business and will also make you look more professional. Think about creating a blog or website. This is an excellent gateway to new business contacts. Use social media to communicate what you do and try and create a differentiator – what makes you different from your peers.
Get allies to spread the word about you formally or informally. Build relationships. By the way, it will reflect well on you if you can recommend others for a service that you don’t provide but which the client needs. You will find it pays in the long run.
Save. This is perhaps the most important advice to a freelancer. Most freelancers are not adept at handling finances and are vulnerable to changes in the marketplace. You could have one good month and another bad. You will need your savings to tide you over difficult times because bills still need to be paid. Keep your finances tidy. If this is not your forte, get someone to handle your finances for you. It’s a wise decision and well worth the expense.
Keep working hours even when you are freelancing. Work when you are supposed to work and don’t let other things distract you. It’s equally important to know when to stop. You need free time to recover and replenish yourself. Take good care of yourself. Remember, that you are your most important tool. Your business would come to a standstill if something happened to you. Exercise, see your doctor regularly and take time off for vacations.
Freelancers, specially when working from home seldom get out of the house. Make a conscious effort to get out of your home surroundings. Book meetings somewhere else, meet for lunch or work from a café.
An advantage freelancers have is their one-on-one relationship with the clients. You don’t have to go through a layer of others to reach your client. Make him or her feel they are your only client. Provide an extra service when you can. Ask for a feedback. If possible, reward them for their loyalty. Give a discount the second time around, for instance. Be humble, friendly and service-minded and you can be sure they will stay with you.
Businesses, big or small, appreciate a resource like a reliable, professional freelancer who delivers. Sometimes the deadline is tight and that’s when a freelancer can help by stepping in. It’s a service that will be appreciated and not easily forgotten. So be flexible, be available and, above all, be reliable.