Many people find it challenging to start a freelance business from home, but the ever-increasing cost of living and taxes can provide all the motivation one needs to get started. Freelance businesses can help create a steady secondary income stream provided you put some serious effort into freelancing, and who does not like working from the comfort of their homes?
However, things might not be very clear in the beginning as setting-up a freelance business from home can be especially challenging for people not familiar with how things really work. It all starts with good planning and although you can get away with not writing a formal marketing/business plan, you at least need to be clear about your goals and objectives. The first step involves understanding your target audience and what they really want. Once you have identified the target market/audience, it becomes easier to focus your effort on them and offer services/products they want.
Freelance Business is Not Just About Convenience
Sure, everyone wants to be their own boss and work on their own terms, but freelance work is not for those who are not ready to work late and during unusual timings. If you think freelance work is something you can take lightly and is more of a casual work, you probably need to re-evaluate your perceptions. There is no easy way of earning good money without hard work (unless you are going the illegal routes, which have their own risks) and freelance work is no exception.
Let’s start with the basics things that you need to consider before starting your own freelance business. The first step involves defining clear goals and establishing quantifiable objectives. You need to be absolutely clear about why you what to start a freelance business and what you want to achieve both in the short and long run. This serves as a benchmark for future performance and helps you re-evaluate your strategies along the journey.
Define Clear and Achievable Goals
Regardless of the type of business you are interested in, you need to define distinctively clear goals that are realistic, measurable and achievable. You cannot practically expect to break records in the beginning so it’s better to stay realistic and consider why you are considering starting a freelance business. Since planning phase is pivotal in any business plan, make sure to consider all the important questions such as:
- Have you chosen a field that you are passionate about or is it just about some extra income?
- Are you ready to become a full-time freelancer if things turn out to be good in the future?
- Who is your target audience and do you have something of value to offer?
- Have you done any prior research on what your clients want and how to fulfill their needs?
- Who are your competitors, what are they currently offering, how is your service better than theirs?
- What’s your unique selling preposition/differentiator? (Price, quality, speed etc.)
Identifying the Right Niche
Although finding a niche to serve is part of the planning phase, we’ll discuss it separately as it’s one of the most important factors to consider. There will always be some people willing to work on a lower pay than you. Competing with such individuals and businesses would mean you are bringing your standards down.
That’s why it’s important to focus on clients who value quality instead of pitching to clients who are looking for the cheapest rates (that’s obviously possible when you have something of value to offer). Instead of taking any project, choose an area that genuinely interests you, and focus on becoming the best provider in that niche.
Recognizing Target Clients
Recognizing the right clients is as important as finding the right niche. What kind of work your clients usually offer? How much they pay on average? What are their expectations and how long does an average project last. Questions like these can help you target your clients and customers more effectively and find the ones you can have lasting relationships with.
Price Your Services/Products Strategically
Setting a price for what you offer, especially services can be very tricky. This makes it very important to do some homework and get an idea about how much others offering similar services are charging. That’s where negotiation skills become so important as you have to defend the price you believe is right for the value you are offering. Deciding on price is usually the second step if you really have something of value to offer. Everything becomes easier if you can convince that you are the most suitable person for a particular task.
Consider Building a Quality Portfolio Website
You need a platform to showcase your talent and previous work. What can be a more effective platform than your own quality portfolio site? A portfolio site allows you to make a strong first impression and helps potential clients have a glimpse of your style, work ethics and previous clients. A portfolio is your chance to convince clients that you are the best candidate for their projects. Some key points to consider when making a portfolio website include:
- Communicate your specialty and display samples of your work
- Keep it simple and easy to navigate
- List your contacts and exhibit your personality
- Highlight your pertinent skills, education, and achievements
- Display Testimonials (it’s more important that many people usually think)
- Have up-to-date information about your evolution, new clients, and latest work
Mention Potential Clients
Mentioning potential clients/brands/individuals you’d like to work with helps build goodwill even if you are not qualified enough to work them right now. Keeping a running list of such clients helps you feature them whenever and wherever appropriate. Letting them know after mentioning them in your work can help a lot in growing your own brand, and it only takes a few extra minutes.
Don’t Choose Your First Clients in a Rush
Sure, everyone is eager to start working with their first clients as soon as possible. But choosing clients to work with or highlight on your portfolio website in a hurry can cause more harm than good in the long run. Take some time to evaluate whether the client you are about to start working with can help you achieve your long-term goals. Keeping up to two clients at any time helps you allocate your freelance time more effectively and keeps goals of both parties aligned.
Learn How to Sell Yourself
Freelance work is more about properly marketing yourself as a trustable brand. Communicate your strengths the right way in order to covert conversations into paying clients. Work on your communication skills to turn your experience, skills and interests into a successful freelance business. Sell your strengths and anticipate questions in advance.
Prevent the Freelance Business from Interfering with Full-time Job Priorities
Unless you are absolutely sure that it’s time to go freelance full-time, keep your primary job as your first priority. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to take the freelance work seriously. It’s more about finding the right balance between the two and you should avoid jeopardizing your reliable income source for something that’s still in the bushes.
If you think you have what it takes to become a successful freelancer, there is no reason why you shouldn’t start considering it seriously. Freelance business is about targeting the right clients and marketing yourself as a trustable and reliable brand. Keeping your expectations realistic is important in this line of work, while one should stay focused on their primary job until they are ready to go the freelance route full-time. Freelance business gives you freedom to work on your own terms and conditions, but it also requires dedication, hard work and a client-centric mindset.