If you’ve ever wanted to be your own boss, work according to your terms, or make more money than ever before — this is it!
Starting a freelance business is as easy as breathing air. But, if you jump off the deep without knowing how to swim, chances are, you’re going to drown (especially if you forget to wear your water wings).
So, let’s make this as simple as possible.
Aside from having a sellable skill to start a freelance business, you also need the ability to:
- Know where to find people who need your service
- Persuade people who are willing to pay
- Deliver on the promises you make
- Get paid every time
However, if this were so easy, more people would be doing it and you probably wouldn’t be here reading this article to find ideas to start your own.
Let’s break down the fundamentals of starting a freelance business.
To Quit, Or Not To Quit
Every business venture involves risk and the same goes for freelancing.
Just because you have talent, doesn’t mean you’re going to get paid.
Let’s rephrase that.
Just because you have talent, doesn’t mean you’re going to get paid the same wage you had at your current (or previous) job.
Freelancing can be a great side income that transition into a full-time career once you’ve mastered the art of selling your service.
For some people, it takes a while to find their rhythm. But, once they do, they move forward and never waste a moment looking back.
For others, they fail entirely from the get-go. Then, they end up going back to a regular day job and carry on with their lives (hoping nobody noticed what happened to them).
Oh, and let’s not forget the all or nothing kind of people. These are the type who quit their jobs, put it all on the line, chew through a month or two of savings before they finally figure it all out, and make all the money they ever wanted.
Hey, you gotta know yourself before you get into the freelancing game. Your life and your decisions are in your hands.
So, before you keep reading, take a moment to ask yourself these two questions:
- What kind of person are you?
- What will your outcome be?
You’ll never know if you never try. And, you’ll never try if you follow fear.
Your Sellable Service
Great! You’re making a bold move.
The only thing you need to start a freelancing business is a sellable service. This can be all sorts of things.
However, if you’re looking to work remotely, it’s important to know where people (i.e., your future clients) are willing to spend their money.
Right now, some of the most popular freelancing jobs include:
- Copywriters & Editors
- Digital Marketers
- Graphic Designers
- Video Editors
- Virtual Assistants
- Web Designers / Developers
Didn’t see something you liked on that list?
No worries. The sky is the limit.
Having a sellable service is simply being useful to people and adding value to their lives or business.
As a strategic copywriter, I focus on helping my clients express their message across their website and marketing materials. I offer a full-suite package that walks them from point A (their problem) to point B (the solution). Often, my clients want to increase conversions, get more sales, or increase their authority on the internet.
In other words, a sellable service is able to:
- Identify a client’s problems
- Provide an easy-to-understand solution
- Explain pricing, terms, and deliverables in a transparent manner
- Deliver on budget and on time
- Delight the client by exceeding their expectations and delivering real, tangible results
It doesn’t get any more basic than this.
Where Are Your Clients?
To start a successful freelancing business, you need clients.
Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to be a strong salesperson — but, it certainly does help.
While cold calling and guerilla marketing may be overwhelming at the start, these strategies can be effective if you know how to do it.
For the pure beginner, let’s look at a few simple strategies to help you find your first clients.
Friends and family
Asking your friends and family is an excellent place to start (but not the best — see next section).
While many may not exactly need your services, it helps to put you at the front of their minds in case they come across someone who does.
There’s nothing better than a direct referral from someone who knows you directly.
The obvious approach to asking your friends and family is to:
- Update your social profiles announcing your new freelance business
- Share some new posts explaining that you’re looking for clients
- Reach out directly (i.e., by DM or phone call) and ask them.
If you’re unsure or not comfortable with asking people for something, here’s a quick and easy script you can use:
Hey [NAME OF FRIEND/FAMILY]!
[INSERT SMALL TALK]
So, I just start my own business. I provide [NAME OF SERVICE], which can help with [MENTION 2 TO 3 BENEFITS].
I’m just getting started and looking for my first clients. Do you or anyone you know need this?
Worst case scenario, they say no. If that happens, don’t forget to plant a seed in their mind in case they come across someone in the future.
This is the best way to find your first paid freelancing gig.
Freelancing platforms are a popular go-to place for people looking to pay other people to get things done.
Some of the top freelancing platforms include:
Each platform has its own pros and cons. While some require you to pay to play, others offer open access to a pool of potential clients.
The best thing to do is to try out a few platforms, figure out the ones you like, and focus on getting your first few gigs to get the ball rolling.
When applying for projects on freelancing platforms, focus entirely on their needs. Express yourself in a way that understands their situation. Explain how you have the expertise to help them. And, offer a guarantee to assure them that your talent, skills, and solution is going to get them exactly what they want.
7 Rules to Starting a Freelance Business
To wrap this all up, let’s quickly go over the 7 rules of the starting a freelance business.
- You need a sellable service that adds value and delivers tangible results.
- Pricing is a reflection of your quality, expertise, and professionalism.
- Never give away your work for free. A client is a client. A charity is a charity.
- If a client questions your prices, it’s more than fair to ask for their budget.
- It’s O.K. to reduce your prices, so long as the work you provide is equal to the quality of your service, the value of your time, and the solution that’s delivered.
- Sometimes, you just have to say no and walk away.
- Evaluate your business from time to time — find holes, fix flaws, shorten gaps, etc.
Thanks for reading! If you’d like to learn more about freelancing, how I earned $4000+ a month starting my first business in Japan, or simply looking for more of my writing — subscribe to my newsletter.
See you later!