Over the past couple of years, more and more people have started freelancing in the hope of building their dream freelance business, one of freedom and flexibility.
Whether you’re starting your new freelance adventures as a freelance writer, graphic designer, coach, or another career path, if you’re contemplating a shift from the traditional 9-to-5 grind or looking to expand your existing freelance ventures, there are several steps to consider if you’re going to be successful in creating your dream freelance business.
In the video above, I discuss building a dream freelance business with fellow entrepreneurs and business owners Danie Evergreen and Laura Robinson. In this blog post below, I share seven steps to help you turn your new business into your dream freelance career.
The first step in your freelancing journey is identifying your unique skills and expertise. What are you passionate about? What skills do you excel in?
Niching doesn’t necessarily mean picking an industry to focus on. It could be a particular service. For example, in copywriting, you may choose to niche into email marketing. If offer web design, you may choose to specialise in WordPress or Squarespace websites.
By focusing on a specific industry niche, you can tailor your services to meet the demands of a particular market, making your offerings more attractive and valuable.
A lot of people prefer not to niche when they first go self-employed, a fear of missing out on work because they are too specific. However, when you’re building your dream business, niching can ensure you attract the type of new clients you’d like to work with, and spend your days doing jobs you love.
This will help you to run your business your way, which is part of the dream, right?
Your portfolio is your freelancing calling card. It showcases your skills and past work to potential clients. If you’re just starting, don’t fret. Consider undertaking personal projects or offering services pro bono to non-profits or small businesses. This not only builds your portfolio but also demonstrates your commitment and skill.
Many freelance writers and designers build their portfolios with example work to begin with, demonstrating their skills without the need for client examples. These will of course come as you begin to make a living writing or designing.
Look at it a bit like a CV for a traditional job. What do you want to focus your portfolio content on? Think about your niche. You don’t have to showcase everything, be specific to demonstrate the skills and experience in the areas you want to work in.
If you dream of working in a specific industry or skill, set aside time to create a portfolio that demonstrates your experience in that areas.
The quest for clients can be daunting but fear not. Utilise your network, engage on social media, and explore various freelance platforms. Remember, building strong relationships is key.
A professional online presence can also work wonders in attracting clients. I have found LinkedIn a great platform for finding clients who need freelance writing support. You may also have success finding new clients on sites such as Upwork and Fiverr, however, these sites do tend to be a race to the lowest price!
Getting creative with your selling and marketing can also help. You don’t have to come up with the next big idea, but look at what’s out there already, who’s trying something different that could be inspirational?
Check out my own direct mail campaign that brought me a new dream client.
Remember, to build your dream business it’s not always about saying ‘Yes’ to every job. Many freelancers fall into this trap, and it is difficult when you have bills to pay, but try to focus on finding clients that will help you get closer to the dream!
One of the trickiest parts of freelancing is determining your rates. Reflect on your skills, experience, and the market demand to set a fair price. Don’t undervalue your work.
When you’re a newbie, it can be incredibly hard to set prices and you’ll no doubt question yourself each time you quote for a client’s work – did you go too low or too high!
You’ll need to do some research and don’t be afraid to ask questions in the freelance community. Learning what others charge is a great way to establish your own rates.
It’s easy to think you’re better off going in low just to secure the work, but remember why you’ve chosen to do this. What’s the dream? What do you need to earn to get that dream? I’m definitely not saying overcharge, but consider offering higher-end services, or packages that allow you to charge more.
If the dream is to earn more and work less, then you need to consider if you need new skills to be able to charge more, and add value to your services to make them worthy of a higher price.
Running a freelance business requires more than just being good at your craft. You need to be savvy with finances, set aside money for taxes, and manage your time effectively. Staying organised is crucial to ensure the smooth running of your business.
You don’t have to have set hours every day, but allocating specific time for work can improve productivity. It takes time to find a flow and way of working that’s right for you, but you do need some discipline if you want that dream freelance business!
It’s often a surprise when I tell people I work set hours, but I keep the structure and enjoy the flexibility when I need it. What a lot of people forget is you’re running a business, maybe it’s not as full on as having staff and a premises, but it’s still a business.
You’ll probably be starting small, but if you want it to grow you need to give the biz the effort it deserves. You may have to make some compromises right off the bat, but as you settle in you can adapt to suit the lifestyle you want.
My Freelancer Starter Kit will help if you’re unsure how to run yourself as a business. Once you’ve got yourself organised, you’ll find it easier to grow and start living your dream life!
As you establish yourself, consider ways to expand. This could mean increasing your rates, broadening your services, or even bringing in other freelancers to support larger projects.
Invest in your own personal development. What is it you need to put the wheels in motion for growth? Can you diversify to expand your offering? You may love getting paid to write or being an freelance accountant, but to grow could you add some products that don’t exchange time for money?
The beauty of freelancing is that this is your baby, your decisions, and your choices, but if you want to grow this to a sustainable and long-term career that you still get excited about years down the line, you need to actually make some plans on how you’re going to do it.
Of course, you don’t have to take over the world, it’s whatever is a good fit for you. You get to make this what you want it to be!
Last but not least, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is vital. Set boundaries for work hours, take regular breaks, and ensure you’re not overworking yourself.
Freelancing offers the unique opportunity to harmonise work with personal life, so make the most of it! If you’re working flat-out, feeling burnt out and overwhelmed, it’s unlikely you’re living your dream.
A freelance career is an adventure filled with opportunities and challenges. You can create a thriving and fulfilling life as a freelancer when your dreams are at the heart of what you do.