Dreaming of leaving the 9-to-5 behind and becoming a freelancer? It's not a pipe dream at all.
Many careers lend well to freelancing and with the online tools that are available today, it's becoming much easier to reach customers around the globe.
Here are a few key steps to starting your freelance career on the right foot.
Step 1: Identify a service you could offer
What skills do you have that could translate nicely into a freelancing career? For example, if you are an accountant, could you transition into becoming a freelance bookkeeper?
Look at the skills you are using in your current, or past jobs, and leverage them into a marketable service. You might even have a passion or hobby that could translate well into a freelance career.
Step 2: Determine your ideal client
Once you've determined what service you want to provide, it's time to figure out who you want to serve.
You may not know yet who you want to serve but having an idea will make marketing yourself much easier. Your niche could be a certain industry (doctors, hair stylist, coaches, etc.), or a certain type of person (busy moms, working parents, stressed pet parents, etc.).
Step 3: Determine your offerings
Now it's time to figure out your offerings.
Decide what services you want to offer and then package them into 1, 2 or more offerings that will appeal to your customers. You may need to do a little research here to figure out what people want. Look at other people offering similar services. How are they packaging their offerings?
Step 4: Set your prices
Setting your prices can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be. Figure out what the going rate is for your services and go from there.
The key is not to under value your services. You don't need to be the cheapest in town - and you probably won't attract the right client if you are.
You may want to offer some first time deals to get new customers in the door, or even a pro bono project here and there to get testimonials, but don't low ball yourself in the long term.
Step 5: Set a timeline
Now it's time to set some goals for your big exit from the 9-to-5.
Goals are great because they can help you take action toward your freelancing goal. Your goals are personal to you. Start with a big goal, and then break that goal down into bite size chunks.
Your goals should work for you. Just be sure to break down your main goal so you can see and feel the progress you are making towards it! One big goal is often hard to achieve without the roadmap provided by smaller goals.
Step 6: Get your process in place
Getting your workflows and processes in place takes a bit of time. But once you get your first freelance client, you'll want to refine this and make sure your process is good for you and for your clients.
You’ll want to get agreements/contracts in place, your business identity set up (any state business licenses or insurance you may need) establish workflows and systems for actually doing the work and set boundaries.
After a few freelance projects, you should be able to refine this much better!
Step 7: Gather your marketing materials
You'll want a few marketing tools to help you present yourself in the best possible manner. A professional website, a social media presence and possibly business cards, will be necessities depending on your services and customers.
Don't get hung up on this though. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars and months getting a website made.
Depending on your industry, you may want to get some business cards, especially if you plan to attend networking events.
Step 8: Start networking
Networking is the best way to get clients! Start telling everyone you know about your new services. Offer a referral gift to anyone who sends you a new client. This is important! You'll want to show gratitude for those who are helping you grow your dream business!
Word of mouth is the best way to get new clients, so take good care of your existing clients and deliver exceptional service and you will have more feast than famine!