Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the contributors are theirs.
Seven years ago, I closed my physical business to start a career as a freelance writer. Like me, millions of people are also moving into the independent space. A CNBC report says 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in the United States. in 2021. Many of these people have gone into the freelance industry.
According to a recent survey, the global freelance market has a estimated worth $1.5 trillion. This means that even though over 12 million freelancers are registered on Upwork alone, there is a market for you as a freelancer, no matter your industry.
However, the road can be steep without the right guidance. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and these lessons may also be useful to you if you’re looking to start a new independent career. Here are five things you need to know:
1. Define your success
Before starting a career, you must have a goal. This helps you in the planning and decision-making process for your career. A freelance career is no different.
Like a independent brandyour goal may be to achieve a level of business consultancy, to reach a particular target clientele and income within a given timeframe or even to expand your freelance career into a business with additional services and workers.
Pro Tip: Learn your market
- Knowing what works in the industry of your freelance career can give you insight into what to expect as key performance indicators and how to plan your freelance career goal. Knowing your market involves understanding your competitors’ activities as well as your buyer’s behavior and preferences.
2. You run a business
Being independent means you are your own boss now, and you have a business to run. As an entrepreneur, if you don’t run your freelance career like you would a real business, you’ll be in trouble.
You have difficult decisions to make, especially regarding your finances. Quitting your day job means you leave behind a stable income and all the benefits. Your independent income should be enough to pay your bill.
Creating an income goal upfront can help shape your service rates. However, you should know that your rates are only as good as your services, so you should charge accordingly and reasonably.
Also, you need to be consistent on building up a clientele. This requires finding new customers and retaining old ones. You may need to start cold pitching your potential customers and using other marketing strategies such as newsletters and user-generated content such as testimonials and reviews to increase conversions.
3. Define your services
Any uncertainty about your freelancing career can hinder your progress. You need to be definitive about what you have to offer. You don’t want your potential clients to doubt your seriousness or your ability to complete projects. Defining your freelance services involves choose a niche and specification of service deliverables.
Target clientele and niche: It’s easier to define who your services are for when you have a independent niche. This way, you can tailor your services to the needs of your target customers. For example, a freelance writer in the ghostwriting freelance niche can easily create a service journal that includes deliverables suitable for eBook publishers.
Service deliverables: Most freelancers have a catalog of the services they provide. This can include rate and lead time for specific projects. However, there should be some wiggle room. Some clients may require bespoke services, and you should be able to find a solution outside of your usual packages.
Pro Tip: Create a Portfolio
- Building a rich portfolio for the services you provide can increase your ability to attract clients. Do as much work as possible to boost your portfolio. Also, get reviews past customers for your portfolio. You can use a portfolio tool to organize your work for easy access.
Building a freelance career requires an enormous amount of discipline. It’s easy to slack off and fall behind in your work if company management doesn’t blow your mind. As a freelancer, you need to take conscious steps to constantly stay on track with your projects. There are a few factors that are useful for establish discipline as an independent. They understand:
Planning: Effective time management can be achieved through proper planning. This includes sorting out delivery times with customers and sorting out your working time as well. Knowing the deadline for each project can help you prioritize your workload. Also, scheduling your working hours is great for avoiding too much work or neglecting different essential parts of running your freelance business. For example, a freelance content creator needs time to create content for clients and also create promotional content for the freelance brand. Planning makes it easy to determine when to work on what.
Project management tools: As a freelancer, project management tools are your best bet for effective planning. There are many project management tools that can help you manage your productivity. Some are free, while others are premium. You can track the progress of your project using these tools and essentially create your own virtual office. Some notable project management tools are Trello, Notion.io, Wrike, Proofhub, and Hive.
5. Promote your business
No business can thrive without the right publicity. You have to tell people what you are doing. This way you can establish yourself in the industry and get clients. A few landmarks?
Network: Connecting with people in your freelance industry is a good place to focus promoting your freelance brand. This includes other independent service providers and potential industry customers. For example, you can follow industry leaders as leads or referrals. Plus, connecting with other freelancers in the industry gives you insight into industry trends that can help you. develop your career and extend your reach.
Online presence: You can’t be independent without visibility, and the internet is the best place to gain visibility. Social media helps you reach a wider audience from diverse backgrounds. There is currently 4.59 billion people use social media worldwide. This means that more people find out about what you can offer, and more opportunities can come your way. The trick with social media is consistency and quality of content.
Knowing what to expect and what to do when pursuing a freelance career is one thing; the crucial next step is to get started. Starting a full-time freelance career might just turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made. Take the big leap.