If you’ve lost your work mojo and have been thinking about a career change, the freelance market is a good place to consider moving to. And, yes, going out on your own is a little scary and risky. That said, with the right plan and set up, you could end up with a lucrative freelance business.
Understand, that as an independent contractor, you will need a clear vision to market your services and skills to businesses and individuals effectively. This will take some brainstorming and some work to figure out before you start making a profit. Here are some basic steps to get you started.
Determine What Services to Offer
Consider your mastered skills and what you love to do as a place to start when choosing your freelance offerings. After all, you want to enjoy your business and create something you are proud of. Your focus can certainly be something you did previously for another company, as this is likely something you’ve gotten good at. Alternatively, choose a skill that has nothing to do with your former career. Perhaps, a long-standing hobby or interest could pave the road to your new freelance business.
You could take a general role and offer your services over a wide range of short-term gigs. For example, if you are skilled at a range of audio visual jobs, you could focus on working in an industry that needs both. You could also take a more specific role and specialize in sound for live music or other types of events.
Define Your Target Client Market
Once you know what you want to offer as a freelancer, clearly define your ideal client. Make sure there is enough demand for your skills to provide consistent opportunities for work. If there isn’t enough demand for your skills, consider offering multiple services or expanding your client pool. I recommend thinking outside of the box for this part of your business plan. Be creative and come up with ideas that set you apart from the crowd.
Set Appropriate Prices
Set your freelance rates competitively without selling yourself short. One of the biggest mistakes is assuming that people want to hire the cheapest contractors. On the contrary, they want to hire who will get the job done well at a reasonable price. Charging too little can send a message that you lack confidence or aren’t a quality worker. Having prices that are too high could also be a turn off for some budget-minded clients. To offset this, you could offer pricing specials or payment plans.
Know what your skills are worth based on your experience level. Do also consider who you are marketing to. Businesses tend to be willing to pay more for services than individuals. It’s also helpful to know what your competition charges so you can keep your prices competitive in your target market.
Build a Portfolio
It’s important to build an online portfolio, as well as a lookbook for in-person meetings. What type of portfolio, of course, depends on the type of work you do. If you are a graphic designer who does print and digital work, you will want to have an impressive array of both types of samples available to show.
Additionally, set up a business website that represents what you do as a freelancer. You can host a link to your portfolio there as well. Build a site that showcases the work you can do and have done. Include client reviews to encourage potential clients to contact you. Having a central location for clients to find you and communicate will help you to stand out from the competition.
As a freelancer, marketing is on you. It’s up to you to sell your strengths and services to your ideal market. This doesn’t have to cost you much or anything at all if you use platforms that give you the right exposure. These include social media, email marketing, and word of mouth in order to build your reputation and increase your visibility to attract more clients. Remember to always be yourself and offer helpful tips online to show others you know what you’re doing. This is often the best type of advertising you can do.