It takes time to build a freelance business, but a few simple steps can help set you up for success.
Setting up a freelance business can be intimidating. Here’s a quick list of a 10 things to do to set yourself up for success.
1. Update your website and social profiles
Anywhere potential clients can find you need to be updated to best reflect what you can do for them. That means taking a look at your website, social media accounts, and LinkedIn page, as well as running a quick Google search.
Your social profiles should have a quick elevator pitch about what you do, who you are, and a link to your website.
Your LinkedIn should have your most recent work experience and a completed bio. List your accomplishments, capabilities, and certifications.
Does every link to your website work? Have you updated your LinkedIn with your most recent work experience?
2. Reach out to your clients and collaborators with thank you notes
It’s always a good time to thank your professional and personal connections! But the beginning of the year is a particularly great time to do this as everyone looks forward to the year ahead.
3. Raise your rates
You deserve to make more money. The new year is the perfect time to raise your rates. I know it’s nerve-wracking, but it’s worth your time.
Clients will typically understand. If they respond with a no, you can always lower the scope of your project to support a lower rate or part ways with them. Plus, letting go of low-paying clients makes time for ones with better pay.
A few ways to start this conversation with clients:
“Due to the high demand for my services, I need to raise my rates to X to continue accommodating you. I love working with your company and look forward to working with you in the future!”
“It’s been great working with you! I just wanted to let you know that starting [DATE], I will be increasing my rate to X. I’d love to keep working with you. I appreciate your business and look forward to working with you in [YEAR]! Please let me know if you have any questions about this new rate.”
4. Make a business plan
If you’re a freelancer, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of chasing after clients, submitting work, and running around like a hamster in a cage. But like any entrepreneur, you need to have a business plan set out for yourself.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your long-term goals?
- What are your dreams?
- How do you plan to grow your business?
- What is your target audience? Who do you want to work with?
- What is your marketing plan?
This is the time to dream big.
5. Make a list of clients, websites, brands, and collaborators you want to work with in the future
Think about the clients you want to land and the clients you want to keep. This list should include anyone you want to work with. Shoot big! Then follow them on social, familiarize yourself with their sites, and take a look at their content calendar to see where you could fit in.
6. Make a commitment to take time for yourself
When you’re chasing down deadlines for multiple clients, it can be hard to carve out time for yourself. But you have to make time for yourself — no one else will do it for you. Otherwise, you’re just running toward burnout.
7. Invest in your education
If you don’t make time to invest in yourself, you’re investing in your future burnout. Make time to learn and invest in your education.
This can mean whatever you want! If you want to learn about SEO, find an online course or certificate program. If you want to learn about finance, read a book. If you want to learn about embroidery, go for it!
You don’t have to necessarily pay for this. There are lots of free resources available and many libraries offer free access to tools like Lynda.com.
8. Review your payment options including your credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and Venmo
Whatever payment option you use, make a habit of reviewing it every month. Mistakes happens, so watch for errors and unused subscriptions. You should check for any business purchases you’ve forgotten so you can claim them on your taxes. You can also review what rewards your credit card offers, as rewards credit cards can help you maximize everyday expenses.
9. Calculate your monthly expenses
You need to calculate how much money you need to survive to plan your future. This isn’t a budget: it’s a bare-bones list of essential expenses. Making this list gives you a chance to review what you need (and what you can live without). This list should include:
- Rent or mortgage
- Health care insurance
- Car insurance and payments
- Electricity, water bills, etc.
Take that expense list and add 30%. That’s your minimum goal.
10. Track and automate your business processes
Make your life easier by automating your business processes. This frees up your time so you’re able to focus on revenue-building tasks like landing new clients, marketing, and completing client work. This could mean using an invoicing service to send invoices automatically instead of manually, or implementing an email tracker to see when your emails are opened.
You should also have a process for onboarding new clients. This could be as simple as sending them a welcome email or just adding them to your calendar. Hiring an accountant or using a digital bookkeeping tool can save you from updating a spreadsheet.