Many equate working as a freelancer to intellectual and financial freedom. There can be a great appeal to setting one’s own priorities, schedules, and workload. Often, people will start freelancing while still working a traditional job to earn extra income. Freelancing can provide an opportunity to pursue a dream that might not be possible through a traditional job.
The trend toward freelancing is clear, as nearly 54 million Americans are starting freelance careers; for businesses, it’s time to adapt. Contrary to the idea that freelancing damages businesses by causing them to lose a skilled workforce, businesses can actually gain valuable services by hiring qualified freelancers. As they move toward hiring more freelancers, businesses find they are benefiting from lower taxes and employee-related expenses.
Here are three key steps to successfully start a freelance business.
Know Your Niche — Define Your Goals and Plan
Image via Flickr by francisco.j.gonzalez
Not every freelancing choice is going to be a profitable one. Choose carefully, selecting a niche in which you can best ply your skills and capabilities. As a freelancer, you are a sole proprietor business with one employee who is also the boss: you. As with any business, you need to set goals that are directed toward the results you want to achieve. These can include income needed, number and types of clients you desire, how to best optimize social media marketing, working hours, production schedules, and more.
The best practice as a freelancer setting goals is to use the SMART acronym; keep them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
Identify Your Target Audience
Knowing who your clients are is paramount to success. Do the necessary research and determine their needs and how this compares to what you offer. Search your niche and determine a reasonable price range that you can offer your target audience for the given service or product. Is it reasonable and in line with industry trends? It is important to be realistic in order to fashion the plan to meet these needs effectively.
Develop Social Media and Email Marketing
Good social media marketing will advertise your skills, abilities, and the services or products you can deliver. By knowing your target audience, you can determine which social media platforms will work best for them and you. LinkedIn is a great platform that emphasizes the more professional nature of your niche. It’s also a great place to seek clients and get the word out. Instagram is another good platform to seek out potential clients and interact with them to self-promote. Finding and using social media influencers can greatly aid you on some platforms.
Email can be a great tool for sending inquiries and job queries. Know how to build email lists and use them to market yourself in newsletters and informative messages. Be aware of good frequency practices for posts and emails. Too many and you can turn off potential clients; too few and you may be getting lost in other traffic.
There are going to be ups and downs. Stay inspired, do good research, be informed, and adjust accordingly for a successful freelancing career.