Successfully making the leap from a full-time 9 to 5 job to freelancing can be thrilling and daunting at the same time. After all, it’s one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy. There’s a reason why more and more people are choosing to trade their office jobs and cubicles for flexibility and freedom. In this blog post, I will cover everything you need to do if you want to be a successful freelancer.
Why is freelancing better than a job for freedom?
Freelancing offers so many benefits that your cubicle neighbors can only dream about. From setting your own hours and working remotely, to pursuing your passions, to choosing clients who fit you and vice versa. It’s a whole new world that can transform not just your daily schedule but also your entire future. But freelancing isn’t automatic freedom. It requires careful strategizing and planning if you want to make it a well-oiled machine that runs smoothly and productively.
That’s where Start Loaded comes in. We’re all about creating more freedom through implementing your skills better and more efficiently, so you can freelance like a pro. Whether it’s learning to automate processes or using our set of essential templates, the end goal is to make a good living, whilst maintaining a great work-life balance. In short, Start Loaded helps you to work less, charge more and increase your value. This means more freedom and a successful long-term career in freelancing.
What’s in this ultimate guide to freelancing like a pro?
In this guide, we’ll be looking into the following factors to achieve the freedom and success that all freelancers are striving for:
- Learn how to make money as a freelancer.
- Market yourself for free.
- Reduce your work week by 10-15 hours.
- Get clients that are happy to pay premium prices.
- Discover how to stop selling your time and increase your income.
To do this we’ve created the five pillars of freelancing freedom, which lead to the enhanced life-cycle of a creative freelancer (see below). If you can get yourself into this dream cycle, then freelancing will be the best job for work-life balance, as well as keep you financially stable, so you can pursue your dreams.
Set some goals
Now that you understand the basics of freelancing, it’s time to get down to business. That means setting some goals. Goals are important because they keep your head on straight and give you something to work towards. They also help keep you motivated and focused on the task at hand!
Setting good goals is an art form in itself—but there are some basic guidelines that will help ensure yours are effective:
- Make sure they’re achievable. If they’re not, then it’s going to be hard for them to serve their purpose of motivating you in a positive way. If your goal is too lofty or unrealistic (like getting a feature article published every week), then chances are it won’t feel like much of an achievement when achieved—and all those other little things might start looking better than achieving the big one anyway!
- Make sure they’re realistic in terms of time frames etc., so that once achieved, there’s still more time left for another client who wants what you’ve now got with all these new skills under your belt…
Discover a profitable niche as a freelancer to get high paid jobs
The importance of a good business plan
Whether you’re an established freelancer or starting out, it’s essential to have a proper business plan. One of the key decisions you’ll make as a freelancer is what kind of work you are going to do and then your niche within that. It’s important to get this right and do something you enjoy, but it also needs to make you money and fit into your business strategy. Otherwise, you won’t have the clarity needed for growth. Business planning will also help you avoid stress, frustration and money worries. Making a roadmap and examining your strengths and weaknesses will really help in this area.
How to find your most profitable niche
One of the most important things you can do is find a niche that you are passionate about. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, chances are high that your clients won’t either.
Here’s how to find your niche:
- Be clear about what makes you unique and different from other people out there—and why would anyone want to hire YOU?
- Think about what makes someone like me (or the average reader) want to work with YOU over another person. What can YOU offer that others might not be able to offer? Would I rather hire someone who has ten years of experience but isn’t as good at [insert skill], or hire someone who has less experience but is really good at [insert skill]? Would I rather hire someone who knows nothing about [insert topic], or someone who knows everything there is to know about it?
- Write down all of these things on paper or type them into a document so they’re easy for everyone else (including future versions of yourself!)
Within your plan, finding a profitable niche is one of the most important steps. Using the steps above is a great start. Then narrow this down further by looking at what other people are doing. Ask yourself if there’s any way that you could do it better or differently? If there isn’t yet a company or service that offers what some people want, then maybe this is an opportunity for you. As long as your approach meets market demands and you have the passion and knowledge to implement the service, then you can position yourself as an expert and charge appropriately.
Using pain points to discover a profitable niche
If there are already several companies offering services (or even identical ones), this doesn’t necessarily mean yours won’t succeed, you just need to find a way to solve pain points for clients. This might well involve changing over time until you find something unique about yourself which helps differentiate your work from everyone else. Talk to people and do your research into common pain points that companies have. A niche that solves these will always have a place in the market. Evolving as a business in both approach and skills will ensure that you remain competitive as well. Common pain points surround 4 main areas:
- The process of dealing with customers
- Financial problems or difficulties that the company may face.
- The way businesses support their customers.
- The productivity of the company and how they can improve this.
Market yourself as a freelancer for free
Create a website and portfolio
When you’re first starting out, it’s tempting to just dive into projects and not worry about the long-term effects of your work. But as you build a portfolio and expand your client base, it becomes more important for you to present yourself professionally online.
If you don’t already have a website or portfolio that showcases your work, now’s the time to start one. It will be easy for potential clients to check out what else you’ve done by browsing through past projects on your site—and since people judge websites based on how well they look and perform (let alone how long they last), having an up-to-date website is essential!
Get word out about your work
To get word out about your work, you need to do something different. There are plenty of other freelancers out there who are good at what they do and will be happy to take on a project if they need it. Your job is to make yourself stand out as someone who can handle all things web and social media—not just the design side of things.
You’ve got two main tools for getting noticed: social media and your website. Social media is great for sharing smaller pieces of content with followers (e.g., articles), but most clients want to see large examples of your work before hiring you on a project. So, make sure that the homepage on your website showcases some high-quality visual design samples (and links back to relevant blog posts).
If this sounds overwhelming or overwhelmingly tedious, don’t worry! It may seem like an uphill battle at first, but once you get into the rhythm of marketing yourself as a freelance designer/developer/social media expert extraordinaire (or whatever combination suits you), then it becomes easier over time because you’re doing what comes naturally—putting yourself out there!
Grow your network
You will be able to grow your network through social media. You can also network with other freelancers and people in your industry. Networking is one of the best ways to connect with others who have influence in your industry, or those who can help you with your business. This is an ideal opportunity to make new connections and find out how they’ve gotten where they are today!
Why trust is so important in online promotion
As a freelancer, you are responsible for the marketing and promotion of your business. You can do this in several ways, but the principal factor to consider is trust. Trust can be established in many different ways. For example, a strong, consistent and professional online presence reassures potential clients that you are established and reliable. This could be in the form of a portfolio, website, reviews and social media. Put yourself in a client’s shoes for a moment. How often do you look for all these elements before trusting a company with your business? Also, in terms of gaining new business, what better way to prove your value, than showing prospects a portfolio, tailored to their needs. It’s much more powerful than just a written resumé which only tells them what you can do, rather than showing them. Make sure your online presence is all well maintained and on-brand. Then ensure you provide an easy way to be contacted so you never miss out on an impressed future client.
Why word-of-mouth is important for freelance marketing
Great online presence is important, but so is word-of-mouth. 92% of consumers trust referrals from friends and family more than advertising. Therefore, making your clients happy will go a long way to gaining future business and maintaining great customers. Build your relationships with people you work with and not only are they more likely to return, but they’ll be more likely to talk about you with their network. Do you use this simple sentence? ‘I love working with you, if you think of anyone that might need my services I’d be happy to help!’
Get high paying and valuable clients as a freelancer
Avoiding time wasters and saying ‘no’ to bad clients
Finding and keeping valuable clients is the most important part of growing your business. The first step is to learn how to say no. It’s not easy, but it will help you focus on finding clients who are a good fit for you, instead of taking on anyone who offers you work. It’s hard to do, but nothing takes away freedom like difficult clients and time wasters. Instead aim for clients who pay you what you’re worth (on time), follow your advice and don’t constantly ask for revisions. Remember, you are the expert and that is why they hired you. This isn’t easy, because saying no means fewer clients. However, there’s so much to consider when freelancing and time wasters will hinder your ability to focus on the important things. Ultimately, that means you won’t be able to grow.
How to keep high value clients happy whilst saving time
You should always make sure that your existing valuable clients are happy with the services they’re receiving from you, as value works both ways. This is important to remember when building relations with your clients. Ensuring clear communication, quality resources and great project management will make you more productive and therefore build value for your client. If you do this well, the client will know exactly where they stand and feel more comfortable leaving you to it, enabling them to be the high value client we’re looking for and saving you time. This is all part of the human bonds which are such a massive part of good working relationships. Show clients your human side so they can relate and understand you better. Freelancers need to do this even better than other businesses because you and your personality are such a massive part of your brand. Leverage this to your advantage so clients see your professionalism, but also empathize with you as a person.
Produce work efficiently as a freelancer
How to save time when freelancing
With the tools and templates from Start Loaded, you can increase your productivity and find more freedom as a freelancer. Try to eliminate, automate and delegate as many tasks as possible. The first step in increasing productivity is to eliminate tasks that don’t bring value to you or your clients. Don’t waste time doing extra work if it is not benefiting anyone. Then, automation may take time to set up but in the long run, you’ll thank yourself for automating menial but necessary tasks. Using technology for these frees up time for more important things like thinking about new projects, speaking with clients and working on creative endeavours. Do your research into useful software and speak to fellow freelancers about how they automate certain processes. Finally, delegation may seem like an extra cost, but remember that time is your greatest asset, so use it wisely. If you can delegate a task to someone else and focus on your specialities, then it’s worth it at the right cost. To be a successful freelancer, you need to think like an entrepreneur. Working out when to outsource and invest in other people is all a part of this. Weigh up the cost of outsourcing versus the revenue gained from completing that task and see if it will be profitable. Don’t forget to consider the time you save and can use for other tasks as well.
Why it’s important to plan properly so you don’t waste time
Being more effective doesn’t have to rely on other people though. Simple things like creating a well thought out weekly plan can really boost efficiency. Make it realistic and impactful. For example, allocate 1 big task, 3 medium-sized tasks and 5 smaller tasks for your week so you make good progress and can still enjoy time away from the desk. Timing how long each task takes will help massively with this because you’ll be able to plan more accurately. Using a project tracker that you can share with your client will also help keep you accountable, whilst keeping the client happy.
Increase your income and make more profit as a freelancer
Define your value
We all have a reason for doing what we do, and it’s important to understand that so that you can define your value. That doesn’t mean selling yourself short—it means understanding what exactly it is that makes you unique and how best to build on those strengths. If you want to stand out as a freelancer, you need to know what makes you valuable and how to communicate this effectively with potential clients.
Diversify your business to make money in different ways
Diversifying your business is a good way to make money. It can also be a great way to learn new skills, meet new people and gain new experiences.
Think beyond traditional freelance work opportunities
Freelancing is more than just something you do to make money. It can also be a way to put your professional skills to good use while learning new ones, or even just as an excuse to travel without anyone else judging you for it. In fact, though freelancing isn’t the easiest gig in the world (especially if you’re just starting out), there are plenty of reasons why it’s worth trying out:
- Freelancing can be a side hustle: While freelancers often do their work full-time and take on projects from their own homes, many also freelance for fun and profit on the side. If you have any particular skills that could be useful—anything from writing articles about gardening tools (yes) to creating videos about makeup application tips—consider selling them through websites like Upwork or Fiverr!
- Freelancing helps you learn new things: One of my favorite things about freelancing has been learning new skills along the way; whether it was web design when I started my first website project with a client or graphic design when I took on a monthly illustration project last summer, doing freelance work helped me grow as an artist by giving me opportunities and challenges outside what I was used to doing in my day job (and this helped build up those all-important portfolio pieces).
Be an effective manager of your own business and finances
- Manage your own time and workload.
- Manage client expectations.
- Manage your own finances.
- Manage your own health.
- Manage your own career growth, or lack thereof. This one is just as important as managing everything else listed here! I want to emphasize that a lot of people make the mistake of thinking about freelancing as something that’s going to solve all their problems, but it doesn’t work like that—it’s still important to manage yourself effectively so you can make sure you’re working on the right things in the right way at the right time!
The importance of creating a budget when running your own business
Increasing your income is often going to be a goal for freelancers, but the first thing to do is work out your budget. We use the 50/30/20 method as a general rule. 50% of revenue goes to baseline expenses, 30% to variable wants, and 20% to savings and debt. Once you’ve established how much you need to meet your budget, you can start to work out what your income needs to be and the best ways to increase it. Working this out may also show that you can earn enough from just your best and most valuable clients. If this is the case, drop some of the headaches and give yourself more time to grow, or maybe even more free time for your other passions.
Why you should raise your prices regularly when freelancing
The quickest way to increase income is to raise your prices. This may seem daunting, but it links back to finding valuable clients. If they value your work, then they won’t mind paying for it and those that you lose probably weren’t dream clients in the first place. It’s a scary step but it’s important to do regularly as your abilities and skills grow and you continue to offer greater value. On that note, it’s easy to stick to what you know once you’ve become established. However, doing courses and investing in personal development can really help you justify increased costs down the line, as well as giving you the chance to gain new clients and impress current ones.
The benefits of value-based pricing
Another way to increase revenue is re-evaluating your pricing strategy. If you are currently charging an hourly rate, then it’s time to move to value-based pricing. This is about charging for performance rather than time. If you do something brilliantly in a short space of time then charge appropriately for that work. Don’t worry if it only took you 15 minutes to do a task. If most people would have taken an hour to do the same thing then you should be charging at least as much as due reward for proficiency. Be confident in explaining why you do your pricing like this and include case studies in your portfolio that demonstrate your previous successes.
Freelancing means more than just working from home in PJs on a laptop
While you may be thinking it’s just a job, freelancing is actually more of a lifestyle. There are many factors to consider when going freelance and making sure you are prepared for all of them will help you transition into the world of being self-employed with ease.
- Time management is key – You’ll need to be able to manage your finances, your clients and their expectations as well as your own timekeeping without compromising on quality or delivering projects late.
- Money matters – Freelancing means that financial planning will have to take place before taking on any new projects; otherwise, you could find yourself in trouble if something goes wrong or costs more than expected.
Join the free session for more information on how to gain freedom, save time and make more money as a freelancer.
Freedom is not just about how much money you make as a freelancer, it’s about having the freedom to work remotely and do what you want with your time. However, money is definitely an important part of running a business. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to achieve more freedom whilst earning a safe income. A good place to build on this article is by signing up for a FREE 30-minute 1-1 session where I’ll elaborate on this guide and cover any questions you may have.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of our guide, and you now have all the tools you need to successfully build your freelance business. We covered everything from setting goals and defining your value, all the way to diversifying your income streams and managing finances. We know that this might seem like a lot of information, but we wanted to give you a comprehensive look at what it means to be a freelancer in today’s world. Remember: one essential step is setting boundaries for yourself—not just financial ones, but also personal ones around how much time or effort you can commit to building your business. By combining these tips with realistic expectations, you should be well on your way to achieving success as a freelance professional!
We know that freelancing can be tough. We’ve been there ourselves. But we also believe that it gets easier if you approach it with the right mindset. Whether you’re just starting out, or have been working as a freelancer for years, Start Loaded is here to help point you in the right direction and help you to continue your development. If freelancing is what you want to do, then following this guide will help you to manage your time better, allowing you to make the most of the benefits of this remote lifestyle. Maybe you want more time to travel or perhaps the ability to pick the kids up from school everyday? Either way, taking these steps will help. Just remember: building up your own business shouldn’t take away from your freedom; in fact, it should give you more freedom than ever to follow your dreams!
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