Freelance businesses have a lot of moving parts, but I want you to know that you can get a handle on all of them. If you focus on putting together just a few basics, you can build a sustainable freelance business that fits with your life.
That’s why I put together this checklist that you’ll be keeping in mind and working to build as you progress as a freelancer.
A Written Statement And Description Of Who Consumes Your Work
Black nerds, engineering business people, homeowners, people looking to get in shape, etc. This might be different than the buyer…so if you write articles on natural hair care, your consumers are Black people with natural hair, while the buyer is Hype Hair, Ebony Magazine, or The Root.
Your work is always better when you keep the final consumer in mind.
A Written Statement Of The Benefits Your Work Brings Customers
You don’t sell articles, or websites, or a better body–you sell increased readership, a beautiful home, and a better lifestyle, etc. You help people generate leads and simplify their business. You provide value.
It takes time to really build this list out, so keep your ears open for your clients’ problems and positive comments they make on your work.
A List Of Potential Sources Of New Clients
This will grow and change, but you should know where to look…it may be Hoovers, a startup newsletter, even Twitter lists or followers, but have a set place where you go hunting. (Here are some tips to get moving on better marketing.)
A Commitment To When And How You Will Look For New Clients
I dedicate one day a week to focus on marketing. It’s an ongoing practice, but having a day dedicated to it puts my mind at ease and ensures I have a handle on where my income is coming from. You might only dedicate a few hours a week, but whatever you do, make it a habit. (This prospecting template will make keeping all those new leads straight a lot easier.)
Want to improve your marketing? Check out all our resources designed to help you get more (and better) clients.
If you’re working through a site like Upwork, you’ve got a certain level of protection already built in, but eventually, you should have a contract that proteccts your individual needs as a freelance business. This is a good place to start. (Eventually, you’ll also want to consider business insurance.)
A Static Web Presence
It should describe you clearly as a freelancer, who you serve and the problem you solve — at a minimum on a site like Upwork, eLance, Contently, etc., a LinkedIn profile, and ideally, your own website. You can use the same descriptions on multiple platforms (but do consider customizing) to save yourself some time.
If you need some help, check out our resources on building your web presence!
A Social Media Presence
This can be separate or integrated with your personal account depending on your audience, but you should be in step with your customers’ real-time needs and interests. (Plus, it can be fun.)
Not sure how to get going? Check out all our posts on building your freelance social media presence.
A Portfolio (get started here)
People always want to see work you’ve already done. If you don’t have work you can showcase online, give them the option of contacting you to receive samples.
Don’t have samples for a portfolio? You’ve got options.
A Concrete Reminder Of Why You Freelance
…A post-it, a physical item, a note on a whiteboard, etc. Freelancing can be hard, so tangible motivation is important.
A Support System
This is crucial…friends, family, or a partner who is 100% behind your efforts, or an online community like our forums. You need people behind you to keep you going.
An Idea Of The Income You Need To Generate
Supplemental, full-time, supplemental transitioning to full-time...whatever your goals are, the plan you take will hinge on how deep into the freelancing pool you want to jump.