At this point, it is worth highlighting a few realities. It’s highly unlikely that you will make money overnight. You are going to have to be an action-taker, patient and want to work smart to succeed.
Research your niche
One of the mistakes new freelancers make is trying to provide a service to every industry under the sun. When you’re starting it’s important to focus on a specific niche, so you can build a reputation before widening your search to other industries.
Let me give you an example:
You are a Virtual Assistant, have a passion for music. Therefore, focus your freelancing services on the music industry. You have to complete client work to a high standard, so it helps to work in an industry that you are knowledgeable and passionate about.
Think about how you could save your clients time and money. Have a look at what services other Virtual Assistants are offering, and make a note of your skills that would make you stand out amongst the others.
Standing out is going to be important for a new freelancer. You have to remember that your competition is global. You are competing against people who charge considerably less because of the cost of living in their country.
Create your one-page business plan
Many business coaches suggest you create a full business plan including the operations plan, market and competition analysis. This information is important, but when starting your need to focus on taking action.
Starting with a one-page plan is the best way to build your business and keep adding to it as time goes on. Make sure you include details of the niche you’re focusing on and the services you offer.
Then, focus on your perfect client. What type of business do they run, are you focusing on companies or entrepreneurs? Where are these clients based? Where do they hang out when online, e.g. Linkedin, Facebook, etc.
Ask yourself these important questions and note your responses:
- Why do they need you?
- What value will you bring to their business?
- How are you going to help their business?
- What are their challenges that you can assist them with?
- How are you going to make their life easier, save them money and time?
Never forget your clients’ needs and the value you add to their business. Your client should always be at the forefront of your mind when creating your freelance business.
Build a website (or portfolio)
The next task is to think about your business name. In particular, are you going to go with a business or personal brand?
As a freelancer, it might be advantageous to go the personal route, since your clients will be only communicating with you. That said, if you plan to hire additional freelancers in the future and create an agency type business, then you might want to opt for a business brand.
With all brand names, make sure that there aren’t any trademarks against them. Check if any companies use the same name and search to make sure the appropriate domain and social profiles are also available.
How you build your website is a huge area to be covered in future articles. There are solutions like Squarespace and WordPress, depending on your level of technical skills.
The main advantage of having a website is, being able to direct potential clients there, to find out more information about you and your business.
When you build your client base, you can include case studies and testimonials on the website, but for now, just keep it simple. It’s also a good place to have a portfolio of the work you’ve completed for other clients, or showcase the skills you have.
Create your skills into packages
The next step is to think about how you could bundle up your skills into a service package that adds value and attracts clients attention.
Here’s an example:
You’re a freelance writer and specialise in writing about health and fitness. You’re also a graphic designer, so create a package which includes a 1,000-word article, and design a social media graphic to promote the article you write.
This adds a lot of value to a client because they would have to ask someone in-house to design the graphic or hire someone. By packing the writing and design together you are creating a valuable service.
Think about the skills you have, and how you could package them together and charge a higher, more appropriate rate.
Create content to share your skills
Trust plays a huge part in the hiring of a freelancer, so, being able to prove you have the experience and skills to carry out the work is important. Create videos on YouTube, write content on your website to showcase your skills. Build an app, share code snippets, or create a design portfolio if you are a developer or designer.
Try and create one piece of content a week to showcase your skills and have a strong call to action so potential clients can find out more about your services.
Over time, the focus should be on becoming an authority in the niche you specialise in – get quotes in newspapers, interviews on TV, speak at conferences and be the go-to person that businesses choose.
It takes time and will not happen overnight, not even in 90 days, but creating content will speed up the progress.
Network with potential clients
Networking is huge. Can I say that again? Networking is HUGE.
Building trust through networking is a great way of securing new freelance clients. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are all good places to get involved in discussions, led by your target clients.
Answering clients questions, especially if it helps them, is a great way to prove your knowledge and build a rapport.
Don’t jump in straight away and promote your freelance business. Do it gradually when you’ve helped them, or answered questions. It’s not a strategy that works overnight, it takes time, but it works.
Networking is effective online and offline, so use platforms like Facebook Events to see what’s going on near where you are living. Also, sites like Meetup and LinkedIn are useful for networking events.
Get yourself out there and socialise with other business owners to open up the gates to new opportunities, don’t wait for people to come to you.
Search for freelancing opportunities
Freelance opportunities are everywhere. Search sites like weworkremotely.com, remoteok.io and other remote job boards for short term projects. Upwork and People Per Hour are two of the many freelance platforms online, but read my guide on mistakes freelancers make for advice on using these platforms.
Use Social media to your advantage by searching Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for freelance opportunities, because they are out there. Ask friends and family if they know any businesses who are looking for freelancers.
Within the niche you have selected to work within, find out if there are any communities, blogs and networking events you can participate in and offer lots of value to showcase your skills to the audience.
Patience and determination required
To become a freelancer, you are going to need patience, determination and not be afraid of approaching people and putting yourself out there.
Remember that clients are not going to come to you, but following the advice in this guide will help you learn how to become a successful freelancer in 90 days.