This post is a guest post by Karen Martinez who runs freelancefromscratch.com. We met online and quickly discovered we both like the freelancing business model. She has compiled a list of 12 things I wish I had known before starting the freelancing business.
Take it away Karen!
Most aspiring freelancers know the good side of freelancing. There are hundreds of blog posts about self-employees working from home in their pajamas, going on vacations and being their own bosses. What most people don’t know is the backstage of the solopreneur business. It’s fun, but it also requires a lot of work.
You definitely need skills. You can’t be a freelance developer if you know nothing about the craft.
But if you’re not improving your networking skills, you could become the greatest developer in the world and still have a hard time getting paid projects.
However, if you learn to find clients, you could increase your knowledge about development as you go.
Ask family and friends for referrals. There is a prospect out there needing your services. Find this potential client and offer your help.
Get your first client before you start freelancing as a full time job. It will improve your confidence and it also helps you to pitch to well-paid projects in the long run.
If you’re not a natural born salesperson, it’s time to practice.
Your business involves more than dealing with projects. You have invoices to send, plans, marketing and productivity. When your business becomes profitable enough, you can afford to outsource some tasks to focus on the big picture.
However, when you delegate a task without understanding the effort and time it requires, you won’t know what a fair deadline and rate are for those services. If the assistant you hired bailed on you, you’ll need to learn how to manage the task on the last minute.
Start small and learn everything you can now.
No one’s asking what you’re doing. No one’s waiting for a filled report. It sounds amazing. However, when you had a boss you knew you had to finish your assignments.
With no boss around is easy to procrastinate. Game of Thrones rerun in the middle of the day? Sure! Ten more minutes in bed? Why not?
Are you determined enough to keep on track?
At a day job, you’re forced to spend most of your time with colleagues. You have water-cooler breaks and lunch to socialize with co-workers. Yes, probably you won’t miss your boss. Or that guy from the corner always taking your sandwich from the fridge.
Now you’re not obligated to waste your time with an office environment you don’t like. Most of the time you’ll be alone.
This is why is so important you find a support group. Join a mastermind group. Be in touch with your best friends constantly. Talk to your family about what’s new. Go out with your girlfriend. Have a new hobby.
You’ll need this, especially when feeling unmotivated.
Remember what I said about being your own boss and procrastination? You’re the project manager now.
Long are the days when you could spend 1 hour doing nothing at your day job without any negative consequence- besides getting caught. As a freelancer, time wasted is money lost.
How many times have you heard freelancers getting peanuts in job boards like Craigslist? Generally speaking, those solopreneurs are targeting anybody. Developing a church website? Yeah, he’s the guy. Writing copy for a law-firm? He does that too.
Do you know the problem with that? You don’t become an expert in a niche and you spend more time pitching prospects because everybody is your target.
Avoid wasting time and focus on a specific freelance market.
I’m guilty of this. I spent too much time planning everything. Like how my website would look like and which plugins to install, planning a budget and calculating my business rates, building a networking strategy. I lacked of action.
On the contrary, just executing tasks without any sort of planning is just as bad.
Spend a few hours every week planning what you need to do. And then actually do it.
As a regular employee, living paycheck to paycheck is bad. As a freelancer, it’s catastrophic.
You cover your bills such as rent and groceries. But you’re also in charge of your business software and assets such as your laptop and office furniture.
Imagine your hosting expires this month and you haven’t paid your credit card.You’re going through a rough patch. A few clients are behind with their payments. How will you pay your hosting if you didn’t plan ahead?
Another example: Your laptop crashes and you don’t have money for a new one. How are you going to work? You could borrow a friend’s laptop. How will this affect your productivity?
Running a business is a numbers game. Let’s say you send 10 pitches to potential clients. 6 of these clients say “Thanks, but no thanks”. Will you leave your home office and go to your bedroom to cry? Well, maybe. (Just kidding)
No! You need to find out if you targeted the wrong clients, sent the wrong pitches or if it’s simple not your fault. Don’t take it too personal.
As you see, you’ll wear different hats. You are now bookkeeper, salesman and customer service agent. It’s not easy.
You might not be used to perform so many roles at a regular job. Now you’re in control of your day, you decide when and where to work.
You will accomplish goals you would never accomplish working for someone else. And that’s inspiring.
You’ll have times when you are overbooked. You get tons of emails and feel exhausted. Suddenly ,the next week you hear crickets singing love songs (Or is it just me?).
It’s what we call feast or famine cycle. How can you avoid this? Market yourself!
Don’t do it just because you have free time in your agenda. Perform your marketing strategy on a monthly basis to guarantee you’ll have enough work to cover your bills.
So you read the entire blog post. You still want to start freelancing after all these points. Awesome!
If you’re disappointed, you must know entrepreneurship is not for everyone.
Some people choose the paycheck instead of pursuing a different lifestyle. That’s okay too.
At the end, it’s about doing what makes you happy.
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