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12 Steps To Start A Freelancing Business (And Why You Should)

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As of late 2018, around 57 million Americans considered themselves to be freelancers. Those are pretty big numbers, and if economic trends and figures are to be believed, they’re only going to get bigger. Freelancing is taking off in a major way, and it’s not hard to understand why. The benefits of freelancing are manifold. You don’t answer to a boss; you work wherever you like and whenever you like; you get to choose your clients, and so forth.

There are many benefits of freelancing. You don’t answer to a boss; you work wherever and whenever you like and you get to choose your clients

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Of course, starting your own freelancing business isn’t easy. If it was, it wouldn’t be half as rewarding as it is. There are a number of steps you’ll need to take before you consider getting started in the business. It’s not as easy as simply deciding what you want to do and starting to draw up a client base (although that’s definitely part of it). Freelancing can feel like an arduous journey, but when the work is flowing in, you’ll feel like it was worth it. Here are 12 steps to starting a freelancing business.

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1. Brush up on your finance

When you’re a freelancer, nobody’s going to manage your paychecks for you. You’ll need to make sure you’re on top of your invoices – when they’re due, how you’re going to get paid, et cetera. This is one of the most important aspects of the job. If you’re looking for a solid invoice tool to help you, try PayPal’s “Manage my Invoices” – it’ll give you a great headstart. Professional-quality invoices get you paid quicker and they are easy to track and sent reminders.

2. Understand the scope of your venture

What do you actually want to do with your freelancing business? Are you going to use this as your main source of income, or is this something that you’re doing to drum up business on the side or chase a major life goal? Whatever the answer, it definitely pays to have a solid and well-crafted business plan, even if you’re a freelancer. You’ll need it for the future.

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3. Create a list of goals

You won’t get very far if the goals you’re thinking of aren’t actuated in some way. You need to write down exactly what you’re hoping to do at every step of your business journey. Start small – secure a web domain, decide on the name of your business, think about the size of your operation, et cetera – and then you can start on the big stuff.

4. Don’t chase the same audience as everyone else

If you’re tempted to start a business because you saw someone else succeeding in that area and thought “it can’t be that hard”, you might want to think again. Finding a profitable niche market is definitely more desirable than simply opting for what everyone else is doing because you’re minimizing competition and making sure you stand out in your field.

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5. Research the competition

Whatever you decide to do with your freelance business, you’re going to run up against the competition. Unless your niche is super-specific, there will be others trying to do what you’re doing. It’s a good idea to know who they are, how they operate, and where their weak points might be. When you know that, you’ll be much better equipped to run your own freelance business.

6. Know your demographic

Knowing your market isn’t quite the same thing as knowing your demographic. You need to research exactly who’s going to be consuming your product or your content, whatever it might be. That will enable you to better craft content that your audience will definitely like. Language, tone, and marketing are all affected massively by who your demographic actually is.

7. Maintain a strong social media presence

Whether you’re a social media addict or a chronic avoider of the ‘gram, the fact is that if you’re not on social media as a business these days then you may as well not exist. Maintaining a strong social media presence is key to growing your client base, promoting your content, and managing a good relationship with your chosen demographic.

“The best part about being a freelancer is that you can typically set your own hours as well as pick and choose who want to work for. The bad news is that until you build your business up, you are likely to have times where you don’t have any work.” – How to Build Your Career Working Freelance Jobs

8. Network aggressively

One of the best ways you can publicize your budding freelance business is to get out there and introduce yourself to potential partners. Have some business cards made and make sure to take them to any event you go to that’s even remotely business-related. Don’t be ashamed of introducing yourself and making sure people know who you are and what you’re about at all times.

9. Know your stuff

In an increasingly competitive era, if you don’t know your stuff you’ll be destroyed by your competition. Whatever your business is – writing, crafts, plumbing, or anything – you need to know what you’re talking about. Word of mouth is essential for growing your business, and you won’t grow good word of mouth if your work is shoddy or shows a lack of understanding of your craft.

10. Be your own taskmaster

When you’re making the jump from a conventional desk job to a freelance gig, the freedom can be a little daunting. You need to be your own taskmaster. Don’t be afraid to scour the internet for good freelance productivity tools; just because teams use Milanote, Trello or Asana, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a solo freelancer. Delineate your work hours and you’ll feel better for it.

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11. Consider a variety of media

If you’re a writer, that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to just writing your own content. You could guest blog on other people’s sites, for example, or you could seek out podcasts that interview writers and see if they’d be interested in interviewing you. There’s nothing stopping you from going multimedia and creating a video series for YouTube or your own podcast, either.

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12. Enjoy yourself 

If you don’t love the freelance life, it won’t love you back. Freelancing should feel great, even when the bad times come; you won’t always love your work, but you should always feel like it’s a better alternative to desk work. If you don’t, then it might be time to hang up the work-from-home keyboard and return to the office life, because true freelancers love what they do.

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