How to Set up Your Freelance Business

3 simple ways to jumpstart your freelance career

(Image: ThinkStock)
(Image: ThinkStock)

If you’re considering becoming a freelancer, there’s a winning combination of tools, systems, processes, relationships, patience and hustle required to succeed. Check out a few actionable tips and resources below to help get you get started.

[Related: [Entrepreneur of the Week] How a Side Hobby Became a Multi-Location Business]

1. Define your ideal clients. Whether you’re a marketing professional, web developer, writer, accountant or handyman—you’ll have to get insanely curious about your ideal customer. Beyond basic demographics, what are your customer’s pain points? What problems can you help them solve? Where do your customers hang out online? What can you do to help make their lives easier? What benefits will your services provide for your audience?

2. Set up your business structure. What’s your formula for success? Do you have the systems and tools in place to support your business? Whether you’re looking to freelance part-time or full-time, freelancing is hard work. On any given day you can go from handling customer requests and troubleshooting technology, to managing invoices, updating your website and marketing your services. Having established processes in place can help  increase your productivity and maintain your sanity. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Are you prepared to operate your freelance business as a sole proprietor or single-member LLC? To learn the difference between the two entities, and consider your tax structure, check out, SBA.gov.
  • Will you charge per project or per hour? Visit the FreelancersUnion.org to learn a few options.
  • How many hours are you willing to put in each week?
  • Do you have an established schedule, workflow, and templates, such as contracts and invoice templates, automated emails, web submittal form, contracts, a pricing sheet, capabilities document and other related documents?
  • Do you have the organizational tools to manage your day-to-day business activities, such as scheduling appointments, and invoices? Try organizational tools, such as WAVE, an easy-to-use invoicing software, Google Drive, for file storage and collaboration, Asana, a free web and mobile app to help you track and manage assignments, and Evernote which helps manage and keep your notes in one digital workspace. Additionally, check out “10 tools you need to launch your freelance business.”
  • Which tools will help you reach customers and automate routine marketing processes? Try CoSchedule to plan blog posts and market your social media content. Google analytics helps you understand ways to drive traffic to your website, Aweber or MailChimp is great for building your email list, marketing, and auto-responding.

3. Develop a portfolio of your work. An online portfolio is your opportunity to shine 24/7 and show proof that you’ve consistently delivered quality work. It includes everything from your accomplishments to finished product photos.

  • Identify 5 pieces of  your work that demonstrate your skills. For instance, if you’re a chef, use high resolution photos of your favorite food or videos, showcasing your cooking skills. If you’re a writer, include clips of your published articles online or use your blog to market your writing skills. If you’re a handyman or interior designer, you can use before and after photos to spotlight your work.
  • Gather testimonials or praise from your customers — Ask customers to write a review about the results, benefits or specific features of your product or services.

To market your portfolio, you can create a blog using WordPress or Squarespace, and include a link  to your portfolio site in the navigation menu or if you’re a writer, blogger or journalist. You can  use websites such as contently or pressfolios.

Next week, we’ll look at several ways to make yourself marketable as a freelancer.