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8 Essential Steps to Starting Your Freelancing Biz


Posted February 14, 2011 in Getting Started
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Getting started in freelancing is pretty scary stuff. In all likelihood, you dont know a lot of people whove done it before, which means you cant get advice from people you trust. Youll be diving into dark, strange waters and may be terrified about your future as well as that of your loved ones. What if I told you, you can take eight simple steps that will bring you closer to your goal of freelancing? If you just completed one step every few days, or even every week, youd soon find yourself ready to take the freelancing plunge. Are you ready for the eight steps? Here they are:

1. Know Yourself
Make a list of all the strengths you have: your skills, knowledge and experience. It doesnt matter if something doesnt look marketable to you. Just make an inventory of everything you could possibly offer to the world. Look at your work experience and formal training, but also consider your interests, hobbies and volunteer work. Look back at activities that particularly bring you joy. There might be a freelancing potential lurking there. Take note of skills youre good at and enjoy doing, which you feel may be in demand in the marketplace. However, dont get attached to them yet. Youll may have to tweak this list later on as you get more information.

2. Know Your Resources


The next step is to list all the material resources you already have at your disposal. This could include a new computer, software powerful enough to go pro with, tools and supplies.

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But dont forget your intangible resources, such as family and friends who are supportive, or a network you could tap for referrals. When the time comes, youll have to use these resources to keep you going.

3. Set Your Goals


What do you want to achieve with freelancing? I dont mean just an income goalalthough that is important. I also mean a lifestyle goal, such as having x hours a week free to devote to your art or your children or spouse. You may also have a creative goal, such as being able to finish that novel. Dont be lured into buying what other people think are worthwhile goals, such as making six figures a year, or working for only four hours a week. Those goals are fine, but they may not be YOUR goals. Spend the time to get to the bottom of what you really want to accomplish through freelancing. This is important to know so you can keep yourself motivated even when youre going through setbacks and difficulties in your freelancing.

4. Know Your Ideal Client


Now its time to decide who youre going to work with. If youre just starting out, its tempting to accept work from anybody with a pulse and a wallet who wants to hire you. Resist it! Forcing yourself to work with people you dont like on projects you dont enjoy is a surefire way to drain your life of joy. Youll burn yourself out and entertain thoughts of quitting. Instead, create a clear idea of your Ideal Client. Think in terms of demographics (gender, age, geographic location, market/industry, income, etc). But also think of their psychographics (attitudes, beliefs, motivations, principles, etc.). Once you have a clear idea of what kind of clients youd like to work with, do some research to find out what your market wants, what problems they encounter, and what solutions theyve tried before. Its easy enough to do this online by looking at forums or blogs. But you can also do it by talking to people who fit the profile of your ideal client, or asking those who already work with your ideal client.

5. Examine the Landscape


At this point, youre probably raring to go and launch your freelancing business. Before you do so, spend some time looking at the landscape to see what kind of competition youre going to face. Are there other people who offer similar services to what youd like to offer, and to similar clients youd like to target? Its actually a good sign if there are. That means, theyre making a living doing that, so theres money in it. If theres no competition whatsoever, it may mean theres no demand for those services from those markets.

6. Craft Your Marketing Message and Brand


Now that you know what you have to offer (from the first step), what your ideal clients are looking for (from step 4), and whats already available in the marketplace (from step 5), youre ready to craft your marketing message and branding.

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At its core, your marketing message is made up of: who you help what results you get for your clients how you help them get those results Branding, on the other hand, is an image you want to project and be known for. Its what will help you stand out among your competitors. Click here to learn more about branding. While youre at it, decide how youre going to reach your market. If theyre local businesses, should you join your local chamber of commerce and network with other members? Or, is your target market active in online forums? Do they still use the yellow pages to find vendors? Are you better off sending direct mailers to your target companies?

7. Package Your Services and Rates


Now its time to decide what services you want to provide, and how much you want to charge for them. Ideally, youll have a list that meets all these criteria: Youre good at it. You enjoy doing it. People are willing to pay good money to have you do it for them. Putting a dollar amount to each service may be much harder than making a list of services youll offer. Read this post for an overview of how to set your freelance rates.

8. Make a Business Plan


At this stage, youre ready to put everything together into agaspbusiness plan. You can be quite informal about your business plan. However, if youre planning to attract investors into your freelancing business (even if it is only your Uncle Jim), youll want a formal one. Check out Bplans.com for samples of business plans you can use as a model for your own. Youll find many different types of business plans, but the most basic one has the following parts: Executive Summary Market Analysis Company Description Organization and Management Marketing and Sales Strategies Service or Product Line Funding Request Financial Plan

Final Thoughts
The prospect of leaving a stable jobeven one you dont particularly enjoyand striking out on your own as a freelancer can be a terrifying one. Its enough to make you keep putting it off until youre practically forced by circumstances.

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However, if you really want to get started as a successful freelancer, follow these steps. In the end, youll have all the ingredients you need to begin promoting your services, attracting clients, and making money. However, this is only the beginning. Youll also need to set up systems for client management, financial management, professional development, and business growth. For your next steps, I highly recommend The Unlimited Freelancer.

Your Turn
What do you think? Are these eight essential steps doable? Do they make you feel you CAN become a freelancer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Image by notsogoodphotography

Related posts: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. What Not To Do When Starting Out as a Freelancer Jump-Starting Freelancing Productivity: 9 Reasons Why and 5 Reasons How Working Smarter Works Three Steps to Set Freelancing Goals You Can Achieve 3 Steps To Creating A Freelancing Brand That Sells 10 Things To Keep In Mind When Starting Out As A Freelancer

About the author: Lexi Rodrigo is the creator of The Savvy Freelancer, a blog that's all about achieving creative and financial freedom through freelancing. Check out Lexi's free guide, 31 Days to Start Your Freelancing Business (or Make Yours A Better One).

Previous Post Random PostNext Post Related Posts Related posts: 1. What Not To Do When Starting Out as a Freelancer 2. Jump-Starting Freelancing Productivity: 9 Reasons Why and 5 Reasons How Working Smarter Works 3. Three Steps to Set Freelancing Goals You Can Achieve 4. 3 Steps To Creating A Freelancing Brand That Sells 5. 10 Things To Keep In Mind When Starting Out As A Freelancer

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Patrick Ross

February 14th, 2011 at 8:41 am This is a great post, very useful tips. I recently returned to FT freelancing. I like #3, setting goals. What Im having to learn is how to set goals of different durations. What do I want to accomplish this week? Where do I want to be in six months? This long-term project, how do I best pace it, setting deadlines within the project? Im still a work in progress on that front.

Margot Stenders

February 14th, 2011 at 9:35 am Best post ever!

Morgan

February 14th, 2011 at 10:13 am Great article! Even if there looks to be no demand, that doesnt mean its a bad idea. Sometimes having no

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competition is also a good thing, since you may be the first to truly come up with the concept. Maybe youre the only one who has come up with the solution to the problem. It can happen! :) Thanks for sharing these awesome tips!

Lexi Rodrigo

February 14th, 2011 at 11:06 am Thanks for the comments everyone! @Morgan Sure, its possible for us to discover a niche or market before any other freelancer. But the best advice Ive heard about that is to give it a try for a couple of weeks or so before investing lots of $$$ on your marketing. If you get a lot of response, then go for it. If not, you havent lost a lot of time and money and you can move on to another target market.

Some Design Blog

February 14th, 2011 at 11:39 am Great post, Lexi! I think its also important for new freelancers to be realistic about the fact that itll take time before they are making a solid income. Having a little money set aside so that you can pay the bills if you have a slow period, or starting off by freelancing part-time and keeping part-time job, can help to ease the financial stress when just starting out.

Morgan

February 14th, 2011 at 7:07 pm @Lexi

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Absolutely great advice! :) Test it out first before going full fledged into it. Love it!

Darlehen

February 15th, 2011 at 10:34 am @Lexi Very useful tips. @8. Make a Business Plan I think this is very important to the success of the job. A business plan helps us to better route our project to success.

Gregor Colnik

February 15th, 2011 at 4:19 pm Great advices, im definitely writing down some of those on my desktop for daily motivation :)

GraphicDesignBoss

February 15th, 2011 at 5:42 pm I would add another essential step to starting your freelance design business is to save a lot of money. At least 6 months bare minimum wages. If you dont have a lot of clients you will need time to find them and bring them on board. Doing this will give you time. Being prudent and saving will help your bridge that gap between leaving your job and becoming your own graphic design boss/freelancer. On a second note, I strongly agree with #8 do the business plan! we did when we started our graphic design business. It has helped us so much. Our focus is strong and I believe because of that we know which clients to approach and which clients to leave alone. Our profitability has benefited when weve followed this part of our business and marketing plan. When we took on clients outside of our focus, they were always more time intensive and less willing to pay for what they got.

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Steve Fogg

February 15th, 2011 at 5:45 pm I agree with the above tips, especially tip no. 8. Doing a business plan will give you a sharper focus and help you grow your business by only chasing after clients you know fit who you are as a graphic designer.

how to impress a boy

February 16th, 2011 at 5:35 am Great tips, but sometimes you have to work for people you dont enjoy because you have to pay your bills.

Lisa Gayagay

February 16th, 2011 at 9:58 am Great and useful post. Thanks for sharing.

Rakesh Kumar

February 16th, 2011 at 4:42 pm Yes I totally agree with all terms Specially #1 Before choose any task we should check out our skills. Thanks for such a beautiful thoughts.

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Endemble

February 19th, 2011 at 7:02 am Really nice tips But easier said then done nothing replaces perseverance

Jason

February 20th, 2011 at 3:37 pm I really enjoyed this article. Very inspiring and motivating. Thanks for the post and breaking everything down!

Anjellea Godwin

February 21st, 2011 at 2:48 am Hello Lexi, This is heartiest greeting from Anjellea Godwin. It is nice to meet you. Most of the tips are very much useful; there is no doubt about it. But it is looking quite lengthy. But I basically think that is not an error. I often find that the intention of the writer is always for some noble cause, safeguard their readers in one way or another. Regards Anjellea

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Elke

February 3rd, 2012 at 8:48 am wow, great 8 tipps just printed that out! Trackbacks 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. Tweets that mention 8 Essential Steps to Starting Your Freelancing Biz | FreelanceFolder -- Topsy.com 8 Essential Steps to Starting Your Freelancing Biz Paul D. Jacobs Freelance Web Programmer Search Freelance Projects Blog Archive 8 Essential Steps to Starting Your Freelancing Biz Topicco Blogs 8 Essential Steps to Starting Your Freelancing Biz Creativity Tweets of the Week 02/18/11 The Artist's Road Linkswitch #57, Typography Tips, Freelance Startup, Getting More Work Linkswitch #57, Typography Tips, Freelance Startup, Getting More Work | oDesk Guide Traveling Linky Love | PRos in Training Linkswitch #57, Typography Tips, Freelance Startup, Getting More Work - Legit Way To Make Money Linkswitch #57, Typography Tips, Freelance Startup, Getting More Work | Ruturaj Pradeep Kohok | Your Web Advisor Search Freelance Projects Blog Archive Linkswitch #57, Typography Tips, Freelance Startup, Getting More Work 8 Essential Steps to Starting Your Freelancing Biz | FreelanceFolder CounterPrism Deciding to freelance in a tough market: Can you? Should you? and How you can succeed. Heatherlee77's Blog 8 _ Are You Ready for These Freelancing Challenges? | World's Greatest T-Shirt Are You Ready for These Freelancing Challenges? Your online guide for finding a job 7 Steps to Leaving Your Corporate Job | Freelancing Help 7 Steps to Leaving Your Corporate Job Your online guide for finding a job 4 Essential Elements of Freelance Business Planning | World's Greatest T-Shirt

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