Deciding to become an online freelancer is an incredibly empowering and exciting decision.
If you’ve made it to this point, then you’ve likely taken some time to weigh the pros and cons of becoming a freelancer, given some thought to what services you can offer, and you’re ready to take the plunge and make things happen in your life by starting your online freelance business.
Congratulations on making a decision and commitment that will very likely change the course of your life for the better!
After all the time, thought, and consideration that go into this decision, it can be overwhelming to then actually get started with launching your business.
This post will help you get over that initial hurdle by keeping some foundational concepts in mind that will serve you down the road in your online freelancing career. These are some things I wish I had known when starting off in my own journey, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you so that you can set off on yours armed with confidence and valuable information.
Just Do It
There are some things to do to prepare before launching your business as an online freelancer, like giving some serious thought to whether it’s right for you, deciding on what services you’ll provide and taking a course to hone your skills, for example.
At the same time, many people fall into the trap of “waiting for everything to be perfect” before beginning their journeys as freelancers. A sentiment you’ll often hear from these folks is: “My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner.”
The truth is you don’t need the perfect business name to get started, you don’t need the perfect business cards, the perfect website (more on this in a bit)…
There may be resources and or tools that you’ll need to provide your particular services however getting in the habit early on of waiting until things are “just right” will only hold you back in your freelance career. Sometimes it’s best to just take that leap of faith and trust that the things you’ll need to carry out your vision will come in to place in due time.
Ryan Levesque’s mantra always stays with me: You don’t have to get it perfect; you just have to get it going.
You Don’t Need a Website to Get Started
Having a website is a valuable resource when it comes to marketing yourself and building your business; however, this is a place where many online freelancers can get stuck when it comes to launching their careers.
It’s not uncommon to hear a freelancer say they took months to “get their website right” before getting started. Not only is it not necessary to have a website to get started, but this can also become an opportunity to subconsciously delay jumping into the seemingly more intimidating tasks of building an online freelance business like pitching potential clients for work.
You can put yourself out there and begin looking for work in your selected niche literally from day one of your business, website or not. It is a good idea to have a website at some point in your freelance career so that potential clients can have a place to view your services and samples of your work as well as learn about you, but by no means is it a “must” to get started with your business.
Your Network Does Matter
So many “business opportunities” out there encourage people to start with their “warm market” when it comes to establishing a new business. Depending on what the “business” is, this can feel uncomfortable and even unethical to some people.
When it comes to starting your online freelance career, however, your immediate network truly can be the most valuable and fruitful place to get started.
Unlike other “opportunities,” with online freelancing, you are offering valuable, legitimate services. When starting your business, it’s definitely worth the time and effort to give serious thought to who you can reach out to in your immediate network to let them know about the services you’re providing.
Remember that depending on what services you’re offering, your network may consist not only of friends and family but also of businesses and establishments you frequent that may benefit from your services.
Keep in mind also that your network may consist of people who know your character and integrity and are interested in supporting you in your new endeavor. If they can’t benefit from your services, perhaps they know people who will and it always pays to tell anyone and everyone that you’re launching a new business. You just never know what will come of spreading the word.
Sow Those Seeds
Just as it’s valuable to give credit to the potential of your network for getting that first client (or two), it’s also important to be diligent and consistent when looking for new clients for your online freelancing business.
While you’re building your business, you’ll likely be pitching potential clients for work until, ideally, your client roster is full. For some, this can be a short period in the beginning of their freelance careers, but for most this is either a longer process or a consistent, ongoing practice.
It can be intimidating and discouraging, at first, to send out those early pitches and potentially hear either a “no thanks” or nothing at all. This point is absolutely crucial: This is where you need to keep going and sow those seeds!
Keep pitching, keep putting yourself out there, and follow up on your efforts. Not only is the practice invaluable, but you never know what may come of it or who may hang on to your email and contact you months later because of the impression you left. I’ve even reached out to people who pitched me for work an entire year previously and hired them to support me in my business.
Be Confident and Believe
Many new freelancers go through “impostor syndrome,” feeling like they’re not as qualified as others out there or that they may be in over their heads when it comes to starting an online freelancing business.
Everyone starts somewhere, and one of the wonderful aspects of online freelancing is that, with the right mindset and skills, anyone can do it.
You are a unique individual with a unique set of skills and attributes, and there is a unique market out there waiting for you to serve it. As you progress on your journey as a freelancer, you will ideally hone those skills and connect with that market.
There are many, many possibilities out there when it comes to providing services and an abundance of businesses and individuals who will benefit from them. This is particularly true right now as more and more businesses are currently outsourcing their services versus hiring “on-site” employees.
Be confident in your ability to grow and improve in your service offerings, that you have something valuable to offer others and that you will connect with those who will benefit from working with you.
Being Clear on What You Do and Who You Do It For Will Grow Your Business Faster
As a new freelancer, it can be tempting to try and do “anything for anybody,” especially out of a desire to just get going with your business and create some income.
It can be valuable experience in the beginning of your career to explore some service offerings that you may not be as familiar with as a potential avenue to discovering something you didn’t know you had a passion for or were good at.
This should be part of a learning process, though, and not a general practice.
The sooner you can become clear on what services you offer, and for whom, the faster you’ll be able to streamline your business and marketing efforts. This will help you focus in and become more efficient so that you’re attracting “good fit” clients who will hopefully become long-term relationships and referral sources.
Grow Your Mindset to Grow Your Business
When it comes to growing your business, mindset really is everything. As we grow and develop as individuals, our businesses will also grow and flourish.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and momentum of building a new online freelance business, particularly as you land your first clients and begin to establish your workflow and habits. It’s incredibly valuable to remember to create time in your work schedule for personal development and to make this as much a priority in your growing business as pitching potential clients.
Working on your mindset and personal development can take place in different formats such as reading, listening to audio, or watching video. There are many, many resources out there, and doing this work will not only help you grow your business, it will also provide you with foundational inspiration that can sustain you through the challenging times in your business.
Stay On Top of Your Finances From Day One
While this particular point isn’t quite as exciting or inspirational as some of the previous ones, it’s very important.
Once again, it’s easy to get caught up in the initial momentum of a new freelance business particularly once you begin getting paid. It’s also easy to let the financial side of your business, your income and expenses, get away from you quickly unless you’re keeping careful records from the beginning.
There are lots of tools that can help you do this. I use the Chase Ink Business credit card for every business expense, and Freshbooks for generating invoices and organizing my finances. Keeping track of your business’ finances is a good practice to establish early on not only to save you bookkeeping headaches down the road, but also for when your business grows and becomes more complex financially.
Are You Ready?
If you’ve spent some time deciding whether online freelancing is right for you, considered what services you can offer and read through the above eight “things to know” before starting your freelance business, then the answer is yes, you are ready!
Oftentimes when we feel like we’re not quite ready for a major shift in our lives, it’s actually the perfect time to take that leap and go for it. If you’ve been considering the decision to start your online freelance business, pondering your options, and weighing your choices, then your time is now. Commit to your decision, go for it, and don’t look back- you’ll be so glad you did.
Are you ready to start your life-changing career as an online freelancer? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to hear from you!