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Today I want to talk to you about how much time it takes to actually build a successful freelance business. It’s an “it depends” kind of topic. So, we’ll be talking about, in general, the kind of time range that you should be spending on the different steps of building your freelance business.
Step one is choosing your niche. This is one that I’ve seen take people years to do this. But that’s usually because they’re completely on their own, just trying to sift through all of the information on the internet, and it can be really overwhelming.
And that overwhelm, and that fear of choosing the wrong niche, ends up making them not choose a niche at all.
And then they’re kind of stuck on that step forever.
So, we’re going to operate under the assumption that you are not going to let that happen to you. And what I mean by that is, you are going to push through and actually put in the the time and get it done so you can move on and continue building.
So, with that assumption, I would say it should take about two weeks to choose a niche. I don’t think you should be taking more time than that because I think then that leads to overwhelm. And I don’t want you to really spend less time than that because I don’t want you to choose the wrong niche because you rushed.
Unless you’re absolutely certain that the niche that you chose is perfect and you’re ready to go.
But the two-week time frame is pretty good for choosing a niche. I have often seen it take less time if people go about choosing their niche effectively and appropriately and correctly.
After you choose your niche
You have to make the decision as to whether you are going to attain a new skill set or monetize an existing one.
Now, skills-building is the longest amount of time that you’ll spend in your freelance business before you see its success. Building skills, especially if you’re building them from scratch, can take time. It’s learning. And, with your 9-to-5s and your spouse and your children, it can just take a lot of time to just get through that stage of building a skill set.
And you’re also dealing with the common doubts and fears of “Am I good enough to move on yet? Or should I learn some more skills or spend more time on this?” So, usually, I want to see people push through and get it done in about two months. I think if you work really hard and really put your effort into attaining this skill set, in about two months you can attain it well enough where you can move on.
However, I always tell my students that learning skills is career-long. You will never stop updating your skills, refining them, keeping them sharp, learning new things that complement your niche, keeping up-to-date with trends and things like that. It is career-long, but for that first skills-building, I recommend about two months.
Then comes the set-up of your business before you start marketing it. So getting it ready to receive clients, making sure you know how to invoice, making sure you know how you’ll control your workflow and how you’ll ask clients for information, things like that. And that I want to see take two weeks as well.
Not more than that. It shouldn’t take too long to get the set-up of your business done.
And then you start marketing. So, really, it doesn’t need to take you more than three months to get your business up and running, and I’ve seen people do it in less and I’ve seen people do it in more.
But that’s around the time it’ll take you to go and start marketing. And while you’re marketing, then you can concurrently start building out your website.
I have found that if you want to build out your website first, before marketing, that stage will take you a very long time because your perfectionism will set in. And if you’ve never made a website before, then you’re really trying to figure that out, and it’ll take time because tech is not for everyone.
But doing it concurrently with your marketing is great because sometimes you’ll get your first paying client or two or three, and you’ll be bolstered to finish that website and to put up your new testimonials and ask for referrals and things like that.
Getting your first client
So, when it comes to getting your first client, I’ve seen it happen on the same day. It happened for me same day. It’s happened for my students, for a few of my students, same day. First week, second week, third week. The first month of looking for a client. Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. Sometimes you can just nail the timing and just get a client right off the bat.
Sometimes you struggle and it takes a little bit more time to get a client. I would say within the first month of actively and correctly marketing, you should get your first client.
The great thing about what’s happening now, amidst all of this uncertainty, amidst all of the fear, is time. An abundance of time.
And that is something unprecedented in many of our lives, just having the ability to stay home and focus our time on whatever we want to do. And that’s very, very powerful because if what you want to do is build an engine for yourself that gives you freedom and gives you flexibility and control over your workflow, over your schedule, over your time, over your ability to spend that time with your family and your friends and your loved ones, if that’s what you want, then there is no better time to be a freelancer.
You should get to it right now. You should get started on your business right now. Whichever stage you’re in, whether it’s choosing your niche or setting up your business or marketing, you should get to work and get it done.