Whether starting a freelance business as a side hustle or going all-in as a full-time freelancer, there are many perks to freelancing.
- Work from the comfort of your own home (or anywhere with a wifi connection!)
- Set your own hours
- Decide who you want to work with
- Turn down projects that don't excite you
- Take time off without feeling guilty
But, taking the leap to freelance full-time isn't a decision that should be made lightly. There are a lot of things to consider, especially while you're still working out the logistics. Freelancers who jump in and hope for the best often find they are not yet fully prepared for the world of freelancing. Their biggest hurdles? Figuring out how to find clients, what to charge, and how much to save for taxes.
Sure, they may have the skills, big ideas, and experience required to start a freelance business but there's a little more to it. You can have all the experience in the world but you need to actually have clients in order for your freelance business to thrive. While it would be great if you're client roster filled up automatically, it takes a bit of work.
With the freelance industry taking place primarily online, you need to build an online presence. By focusing on elements like your website, SEO, and marketing, you can get in front of your target client. Here's how to get started.
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Your Freelance Business Needs a Professional Website
When getting started as a freelancer, you may be tempted to turn to freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. While you can find work on these sites, you may find they're more trouble than their worth.
- You have to spend a lot of time bidding for work alongside hundreds of other freelancers.
- You can't charge nearly as much for your work.
In the end, you're more likely to experience full-on burnout and maybe even a little bit of imposter syndrome.
If you're truly serious about growing your freelance business, you need a website. A professional website not only helps your business look the part but will also help potential clients find you. This is also where your online portfolio will be housed.
Starting a website is easy enough with a free WordPress site through a web host like SiteGround. You can get web hosting for as little as $3.95/month, plus access to SiteGround's stellar customer service.
As an added bonus, if you need help maintaining your website, there are companies that can help. Just research more details about IT consultancy to figure out if it's right for you.
Need help creating your website? Check out this guide.
Take Advantage of Free Marketing
You could have the most fabulous, eye-catching website in the world but it won't do you any good if no one knows it exists. So how do you get eyes on your website and start drawing in clients? You'll need to employ a variety of marketing strategies, both traditional and digital.
Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Tell your friends and family. A really great way to ensure word spreads is to hand out business cards to your friends and family. This makes it easy for them to hand out your business information when they encounter someone who could benefit from your services.
2. Attend networking events. When starting a freelance business, networking is key. It's a great way to connect with local business owners, meet other freelancers, and spread awareness about your freelance business. Most networking groups let you attend one or two meetings without paying a membership fee, so you can test the waters. If you end up liking it, you can sign up for any relevant groups.
3. Learn and implement SEO tactics. This one will take some time to pay off but it's so worth the wait. Incorporating strategic keywords and keyword phrases in your copy will help your website show up in Google search results. To boost your chances of showing up on Google, add SEO-rich blog content to your website.
4. Sign up for Google My Business. This marketing tactic doesn't get talked about a lot, but it's an easy and free way to help your business show up on Google. To help your freelance business stand out even more, ask any past and current clients to write you a Google review. Learn more about Google My Business here.
Utilize Social Media
Social media is an easy way to connect and engage with your target client. That doesn't mean joining every single social media platform or creating spammy posts, though.
Instead, pick one or two platforms you know your target client hangs out on. Then, spend your time mastering those platforms before adding more to your plate. This keeps you from stretching yourself too thin and ensures you're creating engaging, high-quality content.
Another important note, be sure to tailor your content to each platform. Don't just post the same exact content on each platform. Mix it up and make sure the content is appropriate for that platform. For example, Instagram is best for visual content and videos (stories) while business articles and in-depth content are better suited to LinkedIn.
To help build your community, make sure to engage with your followers as well as other businesses. Leave comments, share articles, and stay up-to-date with what's happening with your audience, industry, and fellow freelancers.
A Successful Freelance Business Doesn't Happen Overnight
Starting a freelance business takes hard work and you won't necessarily see an immediate payoff. It will take some time to find your groove, grow your client roster, build credibility as a freelancer, and increase your online presence.
To be truly successful as a freelancer, you've also got to be willing to put yourself out there. Embrace the fear, ask questions, learn from your mistakes, and don't get too caught up in what everyone else is doing.
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