When I first decided that I wanted to quit my job and create my own successful online business back in May 2011, I was driven more by blind determination than belief. In fact, for many months thereafter I couldn’t shake a little voice in my head that kept telling me how fruitless my efforts were.
What I failed to realize was that launching your own successful online business doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. It isn’t an unattainable goal that will forever live only in your mind. In reality, becoming a relatively successful online business owner requires a few more skills than you probably have right now. The rest you can pick up along the way.
What makes the real difference — far more than technical ability or entrepreneurial nous — is your belief and determination. Those are the assets that will pull you through the roadblocks and setbacks that inevitably await you. With that in mind, in this post I want to give you a roadmap that will equip you with the knowledge, belief and determination to launch your own successful online business. Continue Reading
Freelancers are often faced with the question of how much to charge for a project. When the project is similar to others you have done, then you have a good idea of the number of hours it will take you, and the costs you will face. But what about when you are pitching for a project that is a bit different from your normal work?
As a freelancer, it is essential to get your estimates right. Too high, and you might not get the project; too low, and you won’t make a profit. With a professional estimate, you will be able to show your client how you have arrived at your cost, which will help them see that your price is fair.
This step-by-step guide will help you think through all the considerations involved in making a professional freelance project estimate, as well as how to set it out clearly so that potential clients can understand your breakdown. Continue Reading
Writing proposals is something of an art form: you need to lay out the concept for a project, with all the amazing benefits that will make a client want to write you a check immediately, as well as the negatives, like the big price tag.
It needs to be a persuasive document, but it also needs to be clearly professional. Continue Reading
What’s the biggest benefit to you in being a freelancer?
For me, it’s the beauty of having the freedom to choose what I work on, especially when maintaining multiple skills. That means that you can mix entrepreneurial endeavors with your freelancing. In fact, if you have expert skills in something, creating expert content between projects builds up a long-term stream of revenue.
For example, take a look at a Peter D. Marshall‘s website, Film Directing Tips. Whether or not you have any interest in being a filmmaker, it’s worth a visit to his site to see how he’s supplementing his income.
I have no idea whether he’s a freelancer or not, but he is a veteran filmmaker of over three decades. He’s taken his knowledge and created expert content and made it available for sale via his website. The website’s blog is a good example of blogging as a vehicle. The blog’s posts exist solely to promote his knowledge and his paid content, which includes audio files, video, PDF reports – all geared to the aspiring director.
This is a model you can adapt for almost any expert knowledge or skill that you have. If your freelance career is based around these skills, you’re likely to be something of an expert in them. Continue Reading
Building a creative agency is not a short-term effort. You may be able to get up and running fairly quickly, especially if you’ve got some great connections among other freelancers already. But getting enough work to keep all of you busy is only a first step.
Exactly how far you want to grow your agency is a question of your own goals. You may have modest ambitions, like building up enough business to be able to afford some great health insurance. You may have bigger plans, like being able to bring home six figures a year, beyond what you need to pay everyone working for you. No matter your goals, however, you’ll need to keep growing your business to meet them. Continue Reading
When you open an agency, you’re the head honcho. Everybody else has to do what you say, while you kick back and put up your feet.
Or, at least, that’s what we’d all like to think.
But, while you do get to define your team’s roles at the agency, you’ll still have your hands full with work of your own. The big question becomes what work you’re going to take responsibility for at your agency.
As you first start working towards an agency model, the answer will probably be ‘all of it.’ But it’s worth setting some expectations of where you’d like to wind up. That way, you can prioritize what sort of team members you’ll need to bring in first. Continue Reading
Especially when you’re first starting out, the odds are good that you’re going to be relying on other freelancers to handle the work that you can’t manage on your own. Depending on how you choose to grow your agency, you may continue to rely on contractors well into the future. But that means that you’re going to have to take on the role of client: you’re going to have to decide who you are comfortable sending your agency’s work to.
It’s a bit extreme to think this way, but the fact of the matter is that the work produced by any freelancer you hire will reflect directly on you. This doesn’t mean that you should go into full-on micro-manager mode, but it does mean that you need to be very clear about your criteria for who you will work with and your expectations throughout the process. Continue Reading
When you’ve got a whole team working at your agency, you have to make sure that you have enough projects to keep them all busy. If you don’t, idle employees can hurt your bottom line and freelancers can go elsewhere. But some of the problems that go along with freelancing — particularly the feast and famine cycles — are present in agencies, only written bigger.
As a general rule, a freelancer shouldn’t even consider establishing an agency until she’s consistently overwhelmed with work of her own. That’s the easiest way to know that you’ll have enough work to at least start bringing another person on board. But you’re going to have to shift your client attraction strategies to bring in big work more often. Continue Reading
One of the key decisions in establishing a creative agency is how to structure it. When you’re working on your own, structure doesn’t matter very much. Dividing your workload, even just between administrative work and client work, doesn’t seem to matter overly much when you’re the person who will need to do all of it, no matter what divisions you come up with. But when you may wind up with several people working on client projects and perhaps even an assistant on the administrative side of things, you need to be very clear on who is responsible for what.
The danger of not clearly establishing structure is that you can easily wind up in situations where you need to pay someone for time in which they did no work or did the same work that another person had already completed. Putting a solid structure and clear workflow in place that shows how different tasks pass through your business processes are necessary for an agency to grow. Continue Reading
Most freelancers are ambitious. We have to be if we want to build up a solid client roster and bring home enough income to justify not getting a day job. But that’s not the end of the line — in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t take a freelancer all that long to build up a full-time income. Then we have to ask ourselves what we want to do next. There’s not a clear career path that we can follow, like one might climb up the corporate ladder.
One of the options that appeals to many freelancers is building an agency, which can allow you to keep working on the types of projects you like in a much larger quantity. Running an agency isn’t exactly something to jump into without prep work, but if that’s the direction your freelance career is evolving into, it’s a surprisingly practical option. Continue Reading
Hmmm, pivoting on your business model. That sounds like the name of a new band. Does it have videos online? Where’s its ReverbNation page?
Before this fun-loving line of reasoning goes any further, let me bring you back down to reality. Pivoting on your business model is a hot topic in startup circles. It’s what you’re forced to do when your business runs into trouble.
Maybe the customers aren’t buying what you went into business to sell. Or the tastes of the public have changed. What you were offering five years ago just doesn’t have the same appeal. And the result is showing up on your financial statements – in red ink.
Unfortunately, “trouble” is a word that a lot of creative freelancers are dealing with. What happens when your primary income source all but disappears? Happened to me with web design. So, I’ve made the pivot to copywriting, and my business life is a lot better. Here are five lessons learned that can help you make a necessary pivot: Continue Reading
As freelancers, we work with a lot of different people. Sometimes those people do things that we know are in violation of the law, whether or not we personally think that they’re doing something wrong. That leaves us in a position to decide what we need to do about that illegal activity.
There aren’t a lot of options. We can ignore such situations, turn in the person responsible or try to tackle the issue without getting the law involved. But while the strategies for responding to someone doing something wrong are simple, the decision of which to choose is anything but. And if the person in question is a client, it gets much harder.
In the eyes of the law, you should, of course, report every crime. Let’s dig a little deeper into the situation, though. Continue Reading