This is a guest post I had written for the Free Money Finance blog in December. Here it is so that you don’t miss a beat…
I have written quite a bit previously about freelancing on the side and how working on the side for your own clientele in the same field as your career can triple your effective hourly wage and get you more time off from work too.
If you are in a service related profession, such as an attorney, CPA, clinical psychologist, decorator, logistics planning and similar professions, freelancing is arguably the easiest and most turn-key approach to making more money on the side by acquiring your own client base.
That said, many aspiring freelancers make it a lot tougher to get started than it actually is, and often end up overspending on non value add expenditures (garbage in my opinion) way before their business ever gets a chance to get off the ground. Other challenges can include shortage of start-up capital and dried up pipeline of clients.
Without making this an ultra long thesis paper on freelancing, I will briefly discuss two areas of focus that can help you as a freelancer. What qualifies me to do so? Although freelancing is not my main source of income, I have earned tens of thousands of dollars over the past few years taking up selected freelance projects, mainly in the capacity of financial due diligence on business purchases, business and life coaching, search engine optimization and internet marketing strategy.
So without further delay, here are three two of focus for soon to be successful freelancers:
It’s a common tendency for anyone starting a business for the first time to be ultra particular about every single thing. While some things are critical to take care of, others can be overlooked.
Business set up is one example. When first starting out, focus on acquiring your business before you incorporate your business entity. Investing the time and money to set up your business before you get any business will be a big waste of limited resources. Remember, one thing busy corporate professionals don’t have much off is time, so make sure to use your time wisely.
Most freelancers typically engage in projects tied to their professional skill-set. If you are in this boat, focus on getting commitments from clients. Your service should be something you already know and can speak about, so it shouldn’t be any problem approaching potential clients with your service offering.
I recommend you start spreading the word beginning with the inner circle. Tell your family, friends and social colleagues about what you are doing, and get referrals where possible. Set up your business formally only after getting a few commitments and filling up your client pipeline.
Some immediate business set up tasks to consider are as follows: get business cards published, launch a website or a blog, file papers for business entity incorporation (I recommend an LLC to start off), get your Employer Identification Number (EIN), open up a business bank account and start developing a relationship with an accountant you trust (preferably referred through word of mouth).
Remember, while it is good to pre-plan, you don’t have to be meticulous about every single thing, particularly when first starting out. Avoid the paralysis of analysis and just do it.
The big business deals are made in the trenches, whether on the golf course, cocktail party or the football stadium. The point is to get out there and network. Sure you’ve told your family and friends, but as a freelancer, you can’t just expect business to walk over to your doorsteps.
Get out of your comfort zone to network and meet people. Identify areas where you have the best chance of finding your ideal client and hang out in those areas. For example, if you are a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, you might want to attend web development seminars and mixers where web masters are likely looking to team up with folks who know SEO. Connect with local business organizations through the chamber of commerce in your area, or a business network group.
If you are very good at what you do, and given some time and projects under your belt, your clientele will help you acquire more business through word of mouth referral. To improve your chances to benefit from word of mouth referring, in addition to doing a good job for your clients, make it a point to periodically touch base with them to stay in front of them so they don’t forget about you. Marketing and sales is all about frequency of exposure or point of contact.
Of course, don’t forget Facebook and Twitter, the two single biggest social networking platforms. If used appropriately, these alone can fetch you more business than you can handle. Incorporate both of these into your website or blog. If you have a website, consider attaching a blog to it where you can write more frequently about recent developments.
Personally, my network and recently my blog have been the most effective tool in bringing me high quality and highly paid freelance work. I do want to emphasize the fact that as a new business, you won’t be banking big bucks right away.
Developing any business takes time, patience and persistence over an extended period of time. It may take you weeks or months along with several rejections to get your name out there and secure a gig, but you will eventually if you keep chugging along.
It helps to have a full time job so that you are not desperate about acquiring freelance business. But with the right and consistent approach over time, you may grow your part time freelance business big enough where you could quit your job if you wanted to.