How to Thrive When Starting Your Freelance Business
Starting a freelance business may seem like a dream, but the reality can be quite different, especially for the unprepared. Yes, there’s freedom to be gained and achievements to be made, but also clients to keep happy, expenses of which to keep track and time to be managed. Freelancing is a lot of hard work and responsibility, but if you’re in it for the long run, you can live the life you want to live. You can thrive as a freelance business owner.
Quality Work and Client Relations
Let’s get this straight: When you first start freelancing, finding clients is likely going to be difficult. You will have to look around on job boards and freelance websites, call up potential leads and spend time hounding people who would benefit from your products and services.
Once you have gained enough clients to keep you afloat, your number one job is to make sure they are completely satisfied with the outcome. The truth is there are no shortcuts to this. You just need to give 100 percent to every task and provide a good old-fashioned, top-quality service.
Repeat business is key. Make clients more successful than they were before they connected with you, and your success will follow. Once they start working with you, there should be no reason why your clients would ever look anywhere else.
Of course, you still want to keep growing your business by adding new clients. You can gain additional prospects through referrals from existing clients, scurrying through job postings or marketing and self-promotion.
With self-promotion, clients will eventually come to you, and there will be little need to look for jobs any longer. Create a website and blog, reach out and gain an audience with social media and create a portfolio of completed work to demonstrate your worth.
Keeping Finances in Check
One of the main difficulties with freelancing is keeping on top of finances. And let’s face it: Your odds of becoming rich from freelancing are quite slim, as there’s only around 1/20 odds that you will get funding. It’s likely that you will have to start your freelance endeavor by yourself.
The trick is to keep overheads at a low while at the same time gaining enough of an income to easily pay your monthly outgoings. This is easier said than done, with many freelancers struggling to deal with the variable income — it’s difficult to budget when you don’t know how much money you have coming in.
Again, the key is repeat business with regular clients. If you can establish a kind of hardcore base of clients who you can trust will be coming back each month, then you end up with more of a wage-like scenario. This makes it much easier to manage outgoings.
The key is don’t undervalue yourself! As a freelancer, you will be setting your prices. Take your time and think about how much your services are worth and how much you would need or like to come out with for the time it takes to complete a task. Be firm and stick to your rate, and don’t be afraid to reevaluate it once your career advances.
Remember that you are responsible for recording and paying your taxes. You may also need to consider other expenses like health care, pensions and other benefits that you would have as an employee.
Time Management and Lifestyle
Surviving as a freelancer heavily depends on keeping clients happy and handling finances, but thriving as a freelancer requires a different set of skills. You need to manage your time and balance your lifestyle to be happy and productive.
Keep a sustainable pace of work that you can handle over time. Aim to work when you are most productive and don’t procrastinate during the hours that you have set aside for work. Every hour spent dawdling is an hour lost in leisure time. Either way, focus on producing the highest quality work possible.
Then switch off. Relax. Shut down. The nine-to-five lifestyle may not be for everyone, but at least you know that when the day is over, you can come home and do what you please. Not so for freelancers; you must deliberately set aside time for relaxation, and then stick to it. If you struggle with this, then always give yourself at least one full day and night off on the weekend.
If you feel you are missing out on a sense of community, check out co-working spaces near you. It can also help to define your work hours and break up your day, making it easier to rejuvenate after work.
Life outside of work is critical. Don’t burn yourself out. Refresh often, socialize often and pursue personal projects and career growth outside of the bulk of your client work. Enjoy your freelance journey! It is yours to create.