So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and start freelancing work; congratulations! The first year will be the toughest, but can also be the most rewarding if done well. There will be lots of things to bear in mind and plenty of new things to try out. Excited? You should be! I’ll help you get through that first year as a freelancer and before you know it, you’ll be a pro.
1. Put some money aside
Do not, I repeat do not, quit your job and expect to be making a fortune freelancing within the first month. You really need to put some money aside to help get your freelancing business off the ground and ensure you have something to live on whilst finding your feet. Many freelancers will continue working their normal job for a few months before going full time. This means you can build up a client base, some feedback and endorsements and eradicate any teething problems before you take the plunge.
2. Freelancing is still a business
Which means that you need a business plan! Many freelancers avoid this part but then get stuck when it comes to predicting their financials or working out where they want to be in a few years. A business plan can help with loads of different aspects of the business and I would recommend it to everyone! If you don’t have time to put one together, or find it all a bit too daunting, then there are some rather clever people who can do it all for you.
3. Build the perfect profile
However good your proposals to clients are, it is likely they will still want to have a nose through your profile. Having one sentence on there is unlikely to stir the imagination or give them much knowledge about who you are. It’s important to build the perfect profile with just enough information about who you are, what you do and why people should hire you. Think of it as a compact CV and cover letter, all rolled into one.
4. Utilise all of PPH
People Per Hour has a whole different range of ways for you to draw in clients, make money and move up the ranks. Make sure you utilise everything you can including setting up hourlies, getting endorsed and uploading a portfolio. The more involved you get within a community like PPH then the more likely you are going to be picked over other freelancers.
5. Keep track of your money
As already mentioned, freelancing is still a business, which means that you will be accountable for all of your incomings and outgoings. I remember when I had to fill out my first tax return; it was daunting! Now unless you are a freelance accountant then you may have the same feelings towards finances and tax returns as I do. The best thing I did was asked for some help and found someone to teach me how to do my books and keep track of my money. There’s no shame in asking for some advice and it will help keep you out of trouble with the tax man!
6. Network, network, network
Networking is one of the biggest and best ways to pick up new clients within your first year and shouldn’t be avoided. Have a look out for various business networking opportunities in your area and try to get yourself along to a few. Make sure you take whatever marketing materials you have such as business cards, leaflets and so on, so that others will have something to remember you by.
Finally, the perfect piece of advice that I was given during my first year as a freelancer was this;
“Good things come to those who wait.”
It may sound cliché, but my impatience at the beginning of freelancing was beginning to wear me down and probably came across in my proposals too. Being patient is one of the key ways to succeed with your freelancing business. Now, off you go and best of luck to you! Let us know how you got on with your first year as a freelancer!
Many thank to Rebecca for sharing with us her 1st year experience as a freelance copywriter.