If you have found this website then you have already taken the first step to becoming a freelancer, that of seeking information on how to morph your current job situation into a freelance career you will love.
Follow these ‘ten rules of ten’ to launch your own freelance career:
Write down ten things you do well. They could be work skills, hobbies, things you love to do, things people have paid you to do, topics that make your heart sing, or things you would do even if you weren’t being paid to do them.
Now look at your list and find the common denominator. When you look at these ten items, where do they come together? What type of business can you fashion out of these ten things that you wrote down? That will be your business.
- Now that you’ve chosen your business—or it has chosen you—write down ten goals for your new business. These goals should include a goal income figure, a vision of what success would look like to you, a goal that explains how your business will help others–basically ten goals that give your freelance business a purpose and bring your deepest business desires to life.
- Next, take ten actions that will turn your ideas into a real business. Come up with your freelance business name, get a business license, register a domain name, put up a website, get business cards, set up a business bank account, set up a PayPal account (or devise another way to get paid online), set up an email account, create a brochure, and make up a one-page business plan that outlines the basics of your business (consider: what do you do, who are your customers, what makes you special, how you will market your product?).
I often hear from new graduates, new freelancers, and new business people that they have a bunch of great ideas and they have things passions they love to do (writing, designing, etc), but they have no actual experience.
This is often a huge stumbling block when it comes to applying for jobs or selling yourself to your very first clients.
Here’s how to overcome this problem and become a rock star in your field:
- Do not wait for permission to do the work you love. Do not wait for that coveted degree, do not wait until you have the right credentials, and do not wait until the “powers that be” (whoever that is) say you are ready to become a (fill in the blank with your chosen profession). Starting today, you are that professional, unless of course, a degree or certification is legally required. Fortunately, for most freelance professionals this isn’t the case.
Read, study, and learn about your chosen profession. With so many learning opportunities available, there is no reason that you can’t pick up a book, watch a video, or take a class online to garner more knowledge and skills that will help you in your chosen profession.
You don’t need a professor telling you that you need to learn X on this day or read chapter five by tomorrow. Take the initiative to learn something every day in order to improve your skills.
- You should be doing the work you love every day, in some way or form. If you are a writer, write. If you are a web designer, design a website even if it will never see the light of day. If you are a photographer, go photograph something. Your work as a professional doesn’t begin when you graduate or when you get a job, it begins NOW.
It can be kind of easy to get into a rut as a freelancer. I mean your sofa is well worn and your daily habits are well set.
As you talk to the bigwigs of XYZ Company on Skype who will know you are wearing bunny slippers?
As a freelancer, one of the best things I have ever done to improve myself, as well as my business, is to travel as often as possible. Here’s why:
You never know who you will meet. You might end up next to a top CEO on a plane, share a basket of bread with a globe-trotting entrepreneur in India, or strike up a conversation with a small business owner while waiting in line for a Vegas show.
Any one of these people can become future business contacts for you, and, if nothing else, the short conversation you share with them could make a lasting impression on you and your business.
- You never know what you will learn. One day I was hanging out in a coffee shop near a major conference center when a guy sat down next to me and started chatting. Turns out his startup just got $14 million in VC funding. Needless to say, I had a lot of questions for him about the ins and outs of his business as well as the ins and outs of working with venture capitalists.
- You will get out of your rut and so will your thinking. Your mind doesn’t have to work very hard when you do the same things every day. Now flip the switch and begin your day with congee in a café in China, tasting chicken feet for the first time during a dim sum lunch, and watching an incredible acrobatics show in Shanghai. Suddenly your brain starts working overtime to process all of the new sights, sounds, and experiences (this is a good thing for you and your work).
If you just read that headline and it resonated with you, then you are probably one of the millions and millions of people who were hit hard by the economic downturn.
After years of punching a time clock and working your butt off to move up the career ladder and get ahead, the rug was pulled out from under you and, again, if you are like many people in the same boat, it probably wasn’t a soft landing.
Now you ruminate at home, puzzle on the internet, and wonder if the world will ever be the same. Will you ever have a nice expense account-funded lunch again? Will you ever have something as basic as health insurance again? Will the next minimum wage job give you a path to higher earnings?
The work world has changed dramatically and not for the better for many people who are forty and older, but you can take control of your life and your income. It’s as straightforward as becoming a freelancer. Here’s how: Continue Reading
Even in the best of economic times, freelancers often walk a tight financial edge—some months you may be flush with money, while other months will leave you searching under the couch cushions just to make sure you have food in the house.
Here’s are some frugal tips to help you save money—and your sanity—while you are building your freelance business.
- Have an emergency fund. Unfortunately, it isn’t if but when an emergency will come up. With a financial cushion you will be able to meet most emergencies without incurring exorbitant interest fees or loan costs.
- Don’t quit your day job…yet. Launching yourself full time into your freelance business sounds like a great idea but if you have bills to pay, don’t give up your day job just yet. Don’t quit your regular job until you have a consistent freelance income (or a very big emergency fund) that can easily cover your living expenses.
Be debt free. There is nothing that will sink a new business faster than a massive amount of debt (credit card payments, loan payments, etc) that needs to be paid each month.
Go all “gazelle intense” on paying off your debts before you launch into your freelance career (or, as stated above, keep your day job while starting your freelance career and don’t quit that steady income until you are debt free).
If there is one thing I miss about working in the corporate world, it is having teams of people working in the background that I can call on for any type of support my business may need.
Have a legal question? Dial the extension to get someone in legal. Marketing? They are also at the touch of a button. HR question? Their extension was one number away from marketing. IT? Who else literally comes running when your computer network dies and you are on deadline?
But now that I am a freelancer, my entire team consists of me, myself, and I. Which means that I needed to cobble together a team to back me up and—surprise—most of them are freelancers too. Here’s who you need on your back-up team:
While you probably don’t need one on retainer, it is a good idea to find a lawyer that you can call on if you need help. The type of lawyer that you will want to meet (and interview, as many provide free initial consultations) could range from one who specializes in copyrights and patents to business law to contract law.
Remember, legal advice is worth what you pay for it, so posting a problem on a website instead of hiring a lawyer to save money and getting free feedback is worth…about what you paid for it. Continue Reading
I got a call from a friend a few days ago and it seems his small business is getting smaller by the minute. Not only is he on the brink of collapse financially, his one major customer looks like they will be folding up shop soon and that will leave my friend broke, bankrupt, and unemployed.
After a minute of doing the “oh you poor thing” thing (I’m not much for having a pity party over a business because a business is either viable or it isn’t) I asked him what he was doing for the sales end of his business. Turns out, not much.
This is a very common problem among freelancers and small business people. We love to do what we love to do–for me it is writing, for others it is photography, designing websites, coding a new video game, designing purses…whatever it is that made you want to go into business in the first place.
BUT, and this is huge, if you don’t spend as much time selling your product as you do making your product, you won’t have a way to make money and that is what we are in business for. This seems like a simple concept but for many people, being a salesperson, especially when they are selling themselves and their own product, is really difficult. After all, if we wanted to be salespeople we would be working elsewhere.
SO, here’s a few tips to help you sell your service or product. Continue Reading
In the business world, CYA euphemistically refers to the actions you take to “cover your ass” at work (ie: taking actions to not get in trouble, get your company in trouble, or worse, get fired).
In the freelance world, you still need to keep yourself covered, but in a slightly different way. Here are 10 tips on how to do that.
1. Get licensed. If your business requires a license, than by all means get one. This allows you to operate legally (and keeps you out of trouble for operating illegally if you don’t have said required license). Ditto if a professional license—such as for a Notary, doctor, or CPA—is required for the services you provide.
2. Get insured. Self-insurance in nearly impossible these days what with record-setting lawsuits so cover yourself by obtaining the proper insurance (everything from medical and car insurance to a business liability and umbrella liability insurance policy). Continue Reading
As many freelancers eventually realize, going into business for yourself means you actually take on two separate (very different) full time businesses. How’s that for a surprise when you originally thought that you could blissfully code away and somehow the money would start rolling in? Continue Reading
I have been a freelancer for more than a decade and over that period of time, I have seen a lot of changes–everything from a giant increase in credibility if you actually are a “freelancer”, to technology changes in such a short period of time as to rival any other sort of change over the last century.
Through all of these changes, one major thing has happened. Specifically, the list of things that were once considered de rigeuer in order to have a successful business no longer apply.
If you are a typical freelancer, your office may range from your home to your car to the local coffee shop. While I used to inhabit my local coffee shop—to the tune of having my drink waiting for me at the counter before I even got there—I am now a convert of working at my local library.
- Free high-speed WiFi. Yes, my local coffee shop had free WiFi, but it also seemed to have every online movie watcher and gamer there too hogging up the bandwidth. Their “free high-speed WiFi” was usually quite slow and frustrating. This hasn’t been the case at the library.
- A quiet place to work. Coffee shops are usually so loud I can barely think, let alone create. With people talking, orders being shouted, blaring music, and coffee grinding in the background, the cacophony could drive you mad. The library has enforced quietness, which I like.
Photo by e-strategyblog.com.
If you were formerly a cubicle dweller, it’s a good bet that someone else was responsible for making sure that the smoke alarms in your building worked, that all staff members knew CPR, and that the company had a business continuity plan in case of disaster. Now that you are on your own, disaster preparedness and all that it entails is yet another task that falls squarely on your shoulders—along with janitorial jobs, stocking jobs, mail room jobs, accounts receivable jobs, and all the other parts that make up your business. Being prepared for a disaster is not as hard as it sounds. Here are some tasks to get you started so that no matter what kind of disaster strikes, you’ll be ready.