Today I’d like to talk about three things that apply to starting a freelance business. I want to talk about creating a plan. Business plan/marketing plan/freelancing plan whatever you want to call it. I want to talk about establishing your freelance business, both legally and in a few other ways. And finally, I want to talk about getting started. Jumping in, doing things and how you can make that happen sooner and better results.
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I’ll go into each of these points in a little bit of detail and if you guys have questions feel free to ask us in the comments and I’ll try to answer them. Alright, let’s get down to business.
Resources & advice for your business from a community of freelancers and entrepreneurs
So, let’s talk about phase one of starting a freelance business. As I mentioned earlier, I consider phase one to be the planning stage.
This is where you are going to want to consider things like:
- What services do you offer?
- Who is your target market?
- Who are your competitors and what are they offering?
What’s your financial situation going to look like for the business and for your personal life? If you are going to have to take some time off work or live your job to start your freelancing business, how is that going to impact your personal finances?
Things to consider
Do you want a website? Do you want to market in person? Just about anything you can think of, especially if it’s something that may be you are a little bit anxious about or you are unsure about. It pays to have planned these things and get them down in writing before you actually make the jump and start working.
Now, I say that and I want to emphasize that it doesn’t have to be extraordinarily detailed. I mean, you see business plans coming out of schools like Wharton and Harvard and things like that and they are 20, 30, 40, 50 pages long. Your plan doesn’t have to be that way. Your plan can be as simple as a 5-page document or less, or one page document with just a few bullet points on there.
Personally, when I’m planning my businesses I like to use PowerPoint. I create a few slides with some headlines, a couple of bullet points and then may be an Excel spreadsheet I touch with some of the numbers and the calculations in there. Whatever works for you in terms of planning is going to be what you want to do.
Major categories you need to plan ahead for
The first one is your own services; What skills do you have? What services do you anticipate providing? What services do you want to provide in your freelance business?
If you think about it and a lot of freelancers miss this early on. If you are very successful in your business you could end up doing these things for a really, really long time. Now, I know a lot of people just want to get out there and have some success but you have to think about it;
Do you really want to be designing websites for the next 5 or 10 or 15 years? Do you always want to be a freelancer? Or do you have ambitions of starting your own creative design agency?
Do you really want to be writing for all of that time? Make sure you consider that as you are starting and planning your business because you don’t want to start selling every service under the sun, because pretty soon you might end up trapped in doing some of those things and you don’t like them and then you are not going to do quality work and it’s going to end up poorly for everyone.
The other big category to consider is your target market:
- Who are you selling these services to?
- How are you going to find them and get your message in front of them?
It’s very important to know this market because the better you know your market the more successful your message and your marketing is going to be, the easier of time you will have finding clients and the more you will be able to please those clients. So, it’s very important to know who you want to market to, and why they want your services, and how you are going to make them happy with your services, and all of those sorts of things.
Finally, the last little bit that I’d like to go into detail is your competitors.
- Who else out there is marketing the same services that you have?
- Who is selling to your target market?
- What can you learn from them?
How can you differentiate your own freelance business from them? In a world with thousands of designers out there on the web you need to have some specialty or some edge. You can’t just do everything, be a brand new freelancer and expect to differentiate yourself and get clients based on that. It’s very difficult that way whereas, on the other hand, if you focus on a specific niche you work hard in that area, you become an expert at a specific topic you are much more likely to be very successful with that and to get clients based on that.
Community Author Bio:
Samantha is an experienced freelance designer based in the UK and has never looked back since taking the plunge oer ten years ago.
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Ruan Smit started Pixelsmithstudios with the vision of creating a new design orientated environment of sharing, learning and expertise development amongst local Animators,Illustrators,Game Developers and VFX artists in South Africa.