Research shows by 2020, 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers. But take note: there’s a less glamorous side of being your own boss. Uncertainty. Discomfort. Lack of support. Hard work. These things come with the freelance territory. But with a little pre-planning and strategizing, you can set yourself up for success.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Ronn Richardson and Daniel Calderon, the founders of Four Thirty, a freelance creative agency for brands and freelancers, to learn a few tips on how to build a stand-out brand as a freelancer and find projects.
BlackEnterprise.com: Before making the leap into freelancing, how many years should someone have in the industry they want to specialize in?
Four Thirty: While a few years of experience and a strong network of contacts would be ideal, there’s no set level of experience needed to launch a successful freelancing career. If you’re thinking about freelancing, you should certainly have some understanding of the service you will be providing, but if you’re just starting out, you can use your first few projects as on-the-job training. Regardless of your level of experience, it’s important to focus on building your network, being an excellent communicator, having a professional demeanor, curating a portfolio and learning as much as you can.
What are 3-4 tips for building your brand as a freelancer?
Start with a plan. Before you jump headfirst into the complex, yet rewarding world of freelancing, it’s important to have a game plan. Determine your business name, specialty and services, fees and the types of clients you want to work with. In addition to covering the basics, also, create a marketing and financial plan. Thinking through these important aspects will ensure you start off on the right foot.
Create your identity. You’re going to have A LOT of competition, so you need to stand out. Work with a designer to create a high-quality and unique logo, business cards and other marketing collateral to promote your services.
Act as a business. Many people love freelancing because they have so much freedom and flexibility in their jobs. Although the laid back nature of freelancing is a perk, there are times when you need to be buttoned up. It’s important to draft pitch emails, contracts, invoice templates, project briefs and other business-related documents before you launch. Make sure all of your documents are branded with your logo and contact information so your brand identity resonates with clients and they know how to reach you.
Show your work. If no one knows what you’re working on, it will be hard to acquire new clients and effectively build your brand. Use pictures, blog posts, videos and/or podcasts to give people a behind-the-scenes look into your freelancing world. For creatives, sites like Dribble, Behance and Instagram are great for displaying visual works.
What are 3-4 marketing tools for freelancers?
A simple and clean website. A website, with a personalized domain shows clients you are professional, credible and serious about business. If you can’t afford to hire a great web designer, use sites like Squarespace or WordPress to find and customize a theme to your liking. Be sure to include an overview of services, bio, samples of work, testimonials, blog and contact page. Be sure your site is easy to navigate and easy on the eyes.
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