Can you really turn freelancing into a business?
More businesses are opting to hire flexible talent on a global scale and pay you what you're worth. So, no wonder you're looking for the freedom and flexibility of starting your own business.
Freelancing is a fantastic method to supplement your income, but it doesn't have to end there.
Many folks want to turn their side hustle into a full-time moneymaker. If you know these insider tips about transforming freelancing into a lucrative, long-term business, the dream of making six figures, working on the beach, and having time freedom isn't far from reach.
A framework for starting any business
Understand what you want out of your business and what it requires from you regarding time, legal, registration, taxes, accounting, and financial planning for your future. Like, will you quit your job or start small and scale-up?
Start setting measurable goals and benchmarks for yourself.
- To help the planning process, map out your goals into four segments: Financial, time-management, lifestyle, and long-term planning.
Being organized will play a massive role in how successfully you can start and scale a freelance business. Schedule your time between finding new contracts, nurturing those relationships, working on your existing contracts, and marketing your skills to future client leads.
You don't have to be registered as a business with your state government right away, but once you start earning freelance income, you'll begin collecting 1099s, and those need to be stored and filed accordingly, so you don't run into trouble with the IRS.
When you get to the point where freelancing is your primary source of income, consider speaking with a lawyer to figure out the best structure for your business and look into getting professional liability insurance; it's typically less expensive than you think and is worth the protection.
What tools do I need to be a successful freelancer?
Besides the skills and services you offer, there are several tools that you will need to be successful.
- Use tested tools for invoicing or opt. to use a marketplace like Worksome, which guarantees on-time payments for your work and does not collect any fees from you as a freelancer.
- Tools like Quickbooks or basic workarounds like Excel keep track of your expenses, accounting, client information, and other essential data.
- A website is helpful when showcasing your work and acts as an online business card, portfolio, and resume. There are ways around this, like having a well-built Linkedin profile, and in all, public-facing platforms will set you apart as an established professional.
- Using a laptop, desktop, or even a smartphone is needed to conduct business and deliver your skills and services. What you do will determine the type of physical technology you require to complete a project effectively.
- Have your own software tools, like Photoshop and Illustrator for a designer, developer tools for developers, a camera for a videographer, Adobe audition and microphone for a voiceover artist, etcetera.
5 tips for getting quality clients, leads, and revenue
- It's a good idea to map out your buyer persona ahead of time to attract your ideal client. You went the freelance route for a reason, so you might as well work with people you like inside an industry that makes you happy.
Knowing your buyer persona sets you up to market yourself to them specifically, producing better quality leads for your freelance business. If you research what's already out there, what your ideal clients are looking for, and how much they are willing to pay, you’ll be better set up for success once you get started.
Framing this step around your determined niche is essential, and niching down helps define your buyer persona. The more detailed you can be, the better.
- Determine your pricing beforehand and have that proposal template ready to go. You may want to do some research to see the industry standard for the services you offer to remain competitive.
Before clients decide to work with you, they may ask for a price sheet or a formal proposal. Having this information readily available will help you quickly land contracts.
Determining what services you offer goes hand-in-hand with pricing. Establish what you are willing to do and how much you will charge. Will you offer hourly rates, be on retainer, or be paid by the project?
- Linkedin is a great and often underutilized tool for freelancers to boost their client list. LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network on the internet and thus offers close access to clients looking for your skills.
Setting your Linkedin account up with searchable terms allows clients to find you and the services you offer. Linkedin even lets you showcase services on your profile, post samples of your work, and gives you opportunities to connect with and engage potential customers.
- Getting clients is easier than you think, and many freelance marketplaces, like Worksome, do a great job of highlighting your skills, prequalifying you, and showcasing your profile to buyers in need of your services. Additionally, many freelance marketplaces are oversaturated and are not worth the time it takes to set up a freelancer profile, so be picky!
Robust marketplaces like Worksome offer our enterprise and middle-market clients the ability to invite their own trusted contacts to work as freelancers. Worksome itself helps facilitate freelancers' management, contracting, classification, and on-time payment, making our marketplace more exclusive, trustworthy, and less saturated.
This benefits you because you have access to some of the most successful businesses and well-known companies worldwide that require freelance talent by being a part of Worksome's marketplace. They are already ready to hire, contract, classify, and pay you.
Having a strategy that sells you as trustworthy will be important in the process of sourcing your own clients and will also ensure that you are protected as a freelancer.
The Worksome marketplace is free to sign-up for both you and your client and offers tools that make work just work. Introducing the clients you already have to Worksome's freelance management system protects your freelance business and guarantees on-time payment, legal contracts, automated processes, and organized workflows.
- Marketing yourself will help secure inbound leads for your business and can be achieved through in-person networking, virtual conferences, cold emails, and having your marketing materials ready to go.
Effective marketing includes having that portfolio website set up, having a blog in some cases, advertising your skills, and working on your social media accounts like Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok. Recently, TikToker Kat Norton posted her Excel spreadsheet skills on the platform and now makes over $100,000 a day.
There are unconventional ways to get business in the digital economy that freelancers thrive in. Take advantage of the tools you already use like Reddit, Pinterest, Medium, Tumblr, Substack, Youtube, and countless others.
Maintain relationships, boost your reputation, and get recommended: Become the word of mouth freelancer dominating your industry
Maintaining relationships in business is the shortcut to having long-term success with clients who want to keep working with you! It's always okay to ask for and collect reviews from clients who love your work, and in turn, you can showcase these on your website, social media, and freelancer profiles.
Getting to know your customers whenever possible will help you establish meaningful encounters. Going the extra mile to remember things like birthdays can help you establish long-lasting working relationships with them. Celebrating the little things with clients keeps you top-of-mind so that you can become the go-to freelancer in your industry.
When you've established a good reputation, start asking for referrals, and incentivize your customers to recommend you to their friends and industry colleagues.
Worksome is here to assist you in every step of your journey, from starting in our marketplace to finishing as a freelance management system user if you ever decide to manage freelancers of your own within an agency or enterprise one day.
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
Pelé, the Brazilian football (soccer) player, is regarded as perhaps the greatest player in the game's history. In his time, he was the most famous and the best-paid athlete in the world. He was part of the Brazilian national teams that won three World Cup championships in 1958, 1962, and 1970.