Give it a test run first
If you can, you should try to slowly blend into the freelance world rather than jump head first into it. You should be as prepared as possible and that often means keeping your day job and starting as a freelance in your free time. It can be a difficult thing to balance the two and probably best not to make it a permanent arrangement.
However, financial stability is the most important thing here and you can use your job to save up for a back-up fund in case you have a quiet month when you go into freelancing full time.
Meanwhile, you should work on your plan, research the market you plan to break into. You could fill in any gaps in your skills by taking online courses or evening classes to develop your confidence and experience. You should think about setting up a website, including a blog, social media accounts and working on your own branding. Then you can start looking for clients.
Get to grips with social media
You may already use it in your spare time but when using social media from a business point of view, there are some key differences to keep in mind.
Things to consider:
- Do your research – see what other similar freelancers or small businesses are doing online and look at how their audience is interacting with them
- Think about consistency – you may be tempted to bombard the internet with a series of tweets promoting your services. However, this is one way to lose potential followers. On the other hand, not posting enough makes your social media account look under maintained.
- Don’t wait for the followers to come to you. You have to go out and find them. Post consistently good content, follow relevant businesses or freelancers, comment, retweet and join conversations. You need to build up a reputation and a sense of trust for potential customers.
A common misunderstanding about the world of blogs, social media and SEO is that it will quickly show results and earn you loads of clients. However your internet presence is not just something you set up at the start of your freelance career and then forget about.
In order to see long term results, you must make it part of your long term plan. You must review your own content to see what works, you must research other people’s content and you must commit to developing these areas.
Seek professional advice
While it might be tempting to try everything on your own, this will quickly leave you overworked and will probably affect the overall quality of your work. You are a freelancer, you should be spending your time doing what you do best, the things that make you money.
New freelancers can be surprised by the amount of work that goes into admin, marketing or accounting. Doing these things shortens the amount of time you could spend working on a new project for a client and actually making money. In a way, you’re going to be paying for it anyway. Hiring an accountant allows you the time for making money, not just counting it.
Create a designated workspace
A home office is probably the most common starting out point, it’s cheap and convenient. However, it can quickly become apparent that working at home presents its own set of challenges.
It may be tempting to start the day whenever you feel like, rolling out of bed and leisurely checking your emails. This quickly becomes several hours of procrastination and by the end of the day you find that you’ve done nothing.
Things to consider:
- Try to find a space or a room at home that you can use solely for your business. Try not to let your personal life overlap into this area. Think about setting up a business account on your computer to separate it from your personal account. You should do the same with phone lines and email addresses. You should be able to sit down and feel like you are at work.
- If a home office isn’t for you or isn’t possible, then you might think about hiring a working space, either an office or even just a desk.
- Set your working hours and stick to them. Part of the appeal of freelancing is avoiding the 9-5 but without any structure at all, production levels drop.
- Make your work space as orthopaedic as possible. Make sure discomfort isn’t getting in the way of your concentration.
- Keep your paperwork organised. You should be able to know exactly where everything is. This is also good for if you later decide to hire an employee who needs to be able to understand your filing system.
Have you recently become a Freelancer and have some valuable advice you want to pass on? Drop in your comments below!