Becoming a freelancer in any profession is a daunting, yet ultimately rewarding experience. Not much can beat the thrill of ‘going it alone’ in the work world, waving goodbye to your boss and writing in your pyjamas.
As idyllic as these images seem they’re not as far away from reality as you’d think. Here are 3 easy steps to get your freelance business up and running.
1) Feel the fear
This is by far the most important element of becoming a freelancer and the reason why most people fail. Going at it alone and trying to make your own money essentially flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught. Hardly one in a thousand children considers being a freelance medical writer or a freelance travel writer when they’re at school. School teaches you to follow the crowd and do something ‘respectable’. To most people, being a freelance writer is tantamount to being unemployed. Make no mistake, this will scare you. You’ll turn and run back in the direction of the office or classroom many times before you catch yourself.
The main thing is to feel this fear and ride it out. Know deep down that it has no reality whatsoever and you can do what you like. When you finally get this, congratulations, you’ve started your first freelance business!
2) Get your name out there
Once you’ve come to terms with your decision to go freelance, go at it full throttle. Set up and optimise your social media profiles, set up a website/blog dedicated to your personal brand and make yourself known. Take advantage of your pre-existing local network. Chances are you know someone, or your brother’s friend’s auntie knows someone who could do with your help.
One of the easiest ways to get started, particularly if you have no experience, is to do work for free. Volunteer to write online content and blogs for people. Volunteer at charities and help with posters or letters. Volunteer at the school nativity, it doesn’t matter. If freelancing teaches you anything, it’s that people help people. If you take the effort to tell people who you are and show what you can do they’re much more likely to help you.
A great website to get you going is www.peopleperhour.com. Sign up for a free account and bid on freelance jobs related to your niche. This is how I started (as an SEO freelancer) and it definitely works if you give it an honest amount of time.
3) Prepare for a barren spell
Becoming a freelancer can be tough in the beginning. You kissed goodbye to the regular paycheck when you left your nine to fiver. For the first few months it can feel as though nothing’s happening and that people are ignoring you. This is the make or break point. The main thing is to have enough money saved to cover your expenditure for the first few months or so (ideally six months). This way you can focus all of your energy into building a client base or at least a stream of regular work from several sources. Be generous with your time and knowledge at this point. When the work begins to snowball on the back of your generosity you’ll wonder why you ever did anything else.
Sam Beddall is a writer, business consultant and entrepreneur. You can get in touch with him at www.sambeddall.com.