Have you been thinking about freelancing but just haven’t taken the leap yet? Or are you just unsure where to start? Whatever the reason is, here is your go-to guide for setting up your freelance business for success.
The first place to start when launching your own business is to give it a strong foundation to ensure it thrives in its early stages. There are several things you can do to do this; from creating a good website and marketing plan, here are some tips for setting up your freelance business for success.
Welcome to Freelancing 101! Here are 3 tips for setting up your freelance business for success.
1. Develop a Simple but Effective Marketing Plan
Unless you are a veteran entrepreneur or a business student, you might not be very experienced with marketing. That is why I recommend developing a simple (but effective) marketing plan by watching YouTube videos, reading blog posts, etc on the subject. Or, by continuing to read this blog post! An effective marketing plan covers everything from what you post on social media to your yearly goals. Essentially, it acts as a map for you to follow and the treasure marked under the big “X” is the success of your business.
How to develop a marketing plan that works:
- Follow the 80/20 Content Rule on Social Media
This means 80% of your content is supposed to be useful for your audience. That means it educates them on a specific topic or entertain them. This blog post is an excellent example of this 80%-type of content because it is created to educate you all on how to start your freelance business on the right foot. Meanwhile, the other 20% should be used to promote your website and direct your audience to your services or products.
- Determine Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Where do you want your business to be in the next month? What about the next six months? How about in the next five years? Having an idea about the path you want your business to take is essential to the success of it. How can you get anywhere without any idea of where you want to go? Some of my short-term business goals for the next six months are to grow my business so I can pursue it part-time, continue posting 3-4x/week on Instagram, and continue posting a blog post once a week. Whereas some of my long-term goals are to pursue my business full-time and develop more passive streams of income through my business.
- Determine How You Will Get Clients
There are numerous ways to get clients and in the early stages of your business, a lot of those ways involve YOU doing the heavy lifting. The goal is to have clients come to you naturally through your website or social media, however, it takes a while before that stream is steady enough to provide a sustainable income. That’s why it is important to try out the different ways you can find clients to figure out what works best for you and your business. Some people who are years into their business still cold email just because that is how they find their ideal clients –and that’s okay!
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Let’s look at a few of the different ways you can find clients:
- Cold Emailing
Cold emailing is when you find ideal clients who you don’t know and who don’t know you, and offer your services via email. Here are some resources for writing good cold emails: A Guide to Cold Emailing, How to Write a Cold Email That Actually Works in 6-Steps and Improve Your Cold Email Reply Rates: 10 Proven Formulas That Works.
Facebook is one of my favourite tools to find editing clients. What I do is I join writing groups where writers often post about needing an editor and respond to any editing requests. When I see these posts, I craft a personalized comment that links to my free sample edit page rather than my normal editing services page. That way, they have nothing to lose because I am offering a free sample. After I finish their sample edit, I already know about their story and we’ve established a relationship that makes it easy to discuss the next steps. There are Facebook Groups for everything which is why it is a great place to find ideal clients.
- Post Content That Clearly Conveys Your Business
By consistently posting content that conveys what and who your business is for and what you offer, you will attract ideal clients. Of course, you have to do the heavy lifting at first. You have to follow them first, use relevant hashtags, post often, and craft captions that have call-to-actions and offer value, but eventually, your social media channels should become funnels for your business.
- What About Ads?
Nowadays, paid ads are essential to promoting your business and content. By no means am I telling you to pour hundreds of dollars into paid ads, but I do recommend utilizing them once you have your website and business ready to launch. When I first started out, I would set my budget to $5 a day but now I’ve bumped it up to about $10 now. That is still not anything crazy because I am still a small and one-person freelancing business. It’s important to determine how often you will run ads, your budget, and what the goal of your ads will be. This is because ads are a crucial part of any business.
My marketing strategies always revolve around these three things: following the 80/20 rule on social media, determine your goals, and determining how you will get clients. I don’t believe you need a big and crazy marketing strategy because it makes it more of a nuisance to follow.
2. Create a User-Friendly and Clean Website
A website is essential for your business in this day and age. Some people might say otherwise but I disagree. Without a website, it is difficult for inquiring clients to learn about you and your services. If they don’t know who you are or what you offer, why would they want to book you? You cannot just slap together a website and call it day though. There are a few things to keep in mind when building your website to ensure it serves inquiring clients.
Here are 6 questions to ask yourself when building your website:
- Are your tabs easy to navigate and clearly explain what you offer? (Ex. “Blog,” “Writing Services,” “Contact,” etc.)
- Do you have a detailed “About Me” page for people to learn about you?
- Do you have a services page with “packages” that offer detailed descriptions of the services you offer?
- Are there call-to-actions on every page? (Ex. “Contact Me,” “Learn More,” “Book Me,” etc.)
- Is it easy for inquiring clients to contact you?
- Do you have a blog to help drive organic traffic to your website?
When it comes to creating your website, AKA your store, simple is always better. Don’t think you need to build a breathtaking website with beautiful graphics and fancy widgets. By answering the questions above, you will have a sufficient website to empower your business.
3. Put Your Admin Glasses On
Before you start getting clients, make sure you’ve established the admin side of things. That means deciding what email to use, how clients will pay you, and how you will send contracts. Personally, I love Honeybook and use it for my contracts and payments. It is super simple because they have templates for you to tailor to your specific wants and needs. Using a tool like Honeybook saves you so much time on the admin side of things because emails, contracts, and payments can take a decent chunk of time every day. While Honeybook won’t manage your emails for you, it does simplify your workflow immensely. If you want to try out Honeybook, I have a referral code where you can get 20% off your first year so make sure you take advantage of that! Here it is: http://share.honeybook.com/zoe59264
- Honeybook – Contracts, invoices, CRM tool
- Asana – To-do lists, team manager, calendar, etc. tool
- Habitica – A gamification-style to-do list
- Hootsuite – Social media scheduling tool
Now you have the short and sweet recipe for creating a successful freelance business. It is all about developing a plan that you can actually follow, creating a website that serves your clients, and equipping yourself with the business tools you need.
Make sure you check out my last blog post: Why You Should Focus on Inbound Marketing on Instagram