Categorized | Career

Your Guide to Freelancing

Posted on 04 October 2008

Whether your freelance business is creating web sites, writing creative copy for businesses or designing marketing programs, your business’ success is important to you. Here are some tips to help your business run smoothly and increase profit:

Step One: Make a Client List

Without clients, you wouldn’t have a business! While building your freelance business, it’s important to remember to have more than one client. If you don’t, that one client could go out of business and you’ll be left with no clients! Don’t rely on one client to give you work. Have at least 2 or 3 clients who give you steady work and pay you on time.

Step Two: Market Your Services

If you don’t market your services, you won’t reach clients. If you don’t have clients, your business will fail. Here are some marketing must-haves:

~Resume

Resumes have been the standard way to advertise one’s abilities and experience. Have you updated your resume recently? A potential client may want a copy of your resume. To keep track of changes to your resume, a job journal is a must. In it, you will record the projects you’ve worked on, client information, start and end date, earnings and other details. Also, consider having a resume expert look over your resume and make suggestions on how to improve it. Or maybe have them completely redo your resume. I recommend the book, The Everything Resume Book (Everything….

~Portfolio

A portfolio is essential for artists, graphic designers, writers, and web developers. Inside your portfolio, include project samples, awards, your resume, references, and project details. Show off your creativity and individuality with your portfolio! To learn more about portfolios, read The Career Portfolio Workbook : Using….

~Business Cards & Personalized Stationary

Your business cards should include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, web site address and a brief description of what you do. The more unique the card, the more the recipient will remember you. While you are having your cards printed, why not order matching stationary? A coordinated look will show clients you care about the details.

A very helpful and easy way to create and order your business cards is by using Iprint.com (www.iprint.com) or Vistaprint.com (www.vistaprint.com). Not only can you design your cards online, they will be shipped right to your door! Or you can head over to your local Kinko’s, (www.kinkos.com). Design ideas and prices can be found by paging through their business card books.

~Networking

An essential part of marketing yourself is networking. An easy way to network is to casually talk with neighbors, friends and family about your business. If they know about your business, they will be likely to recommend you to others.

Remember that networking is as much about giving as it is receiving. When you receive a contact name or useful information, be sure to give back! Whether it’s a contact’s name or an article, they’ll appreciate it.

As your network grows, keep contact information organized in a Palm Pilot or address book. Jot down their name, contact information, what name or job lead they gave you and how you reciprocated. Periodically, check in with them. Whether it’s with a quick note, Christmas card or phone call, they’ll appreciate that you are keeping in touch! Get more networking tips and information by reading, Networking For Dummies, 6th Edition.

~Web site

All businesses, large and small, should have a web site. Your web site can include services offered, your portfolio, information about you, contact information and whatever else you think is appropriate.

Who should design your site? I recommend you hire a professional web designer. While it is a financial investment, think about it this way. Your web site is like the storefront of a brick and mortar store. As people get an impression of a store from the outside, they will also get an impression of your business from how your web site is designed. Also, by having a professional design your web site, it saves you time. You can then focus on your business!

However, if you have a knack for design, color and coding, consider creating the site yourself. Webmonkey (www.webmonkey.com) has some excellent HTML tutorials to help you learn the basics of web design. You may also want to purchase software, such as Microsoft Frontpage, which makes it easy to create your web site.

Excellent reference books:

Learning Web Design : A Beginner’s Guide…

eBusiness: A Beginner’s Guide

Web Usability and Navigation: A…

Step Three: Freelance Finances

If you are considering freelancing full-time, have you gone over your finances? Before you take the next step and put in your resignation, consider the following questions:

  • How much do you need to live off of every month?
  • Do you have a lot of debt?
  • Where does your extra money go?
  • Do you have a budget?
  • Are there 4-6 months of living expenses in the bank?These are important questions to ask yourself as you prepare to freelance full-time. Once you have a workable budget, start paying off debt, perhaps using the money you earn in your side business. By paying off debt now, you will have a lot less stress to bring in money quickly when you quit your full-time job because the debt will be gone.This is also a great time to start trimming your budget and cutting out extras, like eating out, daily coffee and newspapers and other expenses. These extras may not seem like much, but when you add them up, you’ll see that over the course of a year, they can get into the hundreds of dollars. For example, if you buy a cup of coffee and bagel every morning, $2.00 per day, that is almost $500 a year! Start thinking of alternatives to eating out, like bringing your lunch to work or eating breakfast at home. While it may be hard at first, you’ll be happy to have the money in the bank when you are freelancing full-time!Another way to save money is to clip coupons, shop by sales, send in rebates, swap with friends, and use frequent shopper grocery cards. Do some brainstorming and get creative! There are lots of ways to save money without giving up everything you enjoy.Here are some great financial books to check out:

    Mary Hunt’s Debt-Proof Living

    The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting…

    Step Four: Family Support

    A crucial ingredient for freelance success is support from your family. Whether you are moonlighting in the evenings and weekends or freelancing full-time, family support is essential. They can support you by respecting your office hours, pitching in around the house with chores, and running errands. If you have a plan in place to get the housework and other daily details of life taken care of, you’ll be more relaxed and focused when you sit down to work.

    Step Five: Organize Your Office Space

    Is your workspace or office organized? If not, now is the time to do it. Do you have a comfortable chair, sturdy desk with lots of storage room, and adequate lighting? Your business will also run more efficiently when you have an organizational system in place for important documents, assignments, and invoices. On your calendar, pencil in some time to visit your local office supply store and stock up on pens, files, filing cabinets, computer paper, and whatever else you think you’ll need. Be sure to keep those receipts so you can write the office supplies off your taxes next year!

    There you have it. By following the five steps outlined in this article, you will find your freelance business running more smoothly and your profits increasing. Happy freelancing!

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    1 Comments For This Post

    1. blackbv says:

      Thank you for submitting this article to the small and home business carnival.

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