“You have to spend money to make money” is a well-known idiom. Yet is it necessarily true? As a young newbie freelancer, perhaps fresh out of college, you might not have a lot of spare money to spend setting up your freelancing business. You might even be in the red. When every dollar counts, the aforementioned idiom can feel like a heavy weight upon your shoulders.
The fact is, you don’t need to spend a single dime to set up and develop your new freelance career. You have all the tools to attract clients and gain your first billed project completely for free. Once you begin earning money, you can then – if you so choose – reinvest a percentage of the cash you earn into promoting your business and improving your brand.
Building a freelance business for free
It’s perfectly possible to run a freelance business without spending any upfront cash. Here are some of the ways you can set up your stall and attract clients without a spending a dime:
- Build a free website
Most freelancers need a website – a home base on the internet. Potential clients feel more secure if they can read about your experience and see some examples of your skills (see also: developing a portfolio). This applies regardless of how you initially attract these prospects. There are a number of free website hosting platforms, including WordPress and Wix, which allow you to set up a site for free.
Although free, you don’t really own your website like you do with a paid self-hosted account. However, a free website is a good starting point. Once you get clients you can then reinvest and get your own domain name and paid hosting.
- Sign up to a free invoicing platform
Every freelancer needs to send invoices. Invoicing clients is part and parcel of a successful freelancing career. Clients expect you to send nicely formatted and easy-to-pay invoice documents. This is incredibly important to your brand. It’s also beneficial for you to be able to keep track of income related to your client work.
A free invoicing platform, like Invoice Ninja, allows you to send professionally designed invoices, track payments, integrate different payment gateways, auto-bill clients, convert quotes into invoices, send late payment reminders, see when clients view their invoice, and so much more.
All for free!
- Make the most of social media
Social media is free to use and is a fantastic way to grab the attention of your target market. While there are paid methods to broaden your reach, simply sharing interesting content and interacting with colleagues and prospects, can reap tremendous rewards when it comes to getting your name out there. The key is to be relevant, friendly, and professional, while also showing your unique personality.
Don’t cast yourself too wide with social media. Choose two – maybe three – platforms at most, which your target market use most frequently, and focus your time and effort on those. Work on building strong and genuine social networks.
- Study the best marketing and business blogs
Read, read, and read some more. There are many good quality marketing, sales, and business blogs on the internet. And luckily for you, they are free to read. There’s so much great information, constantly being updated, which you can use to effectively build, market, and sell your freelancing services.
One drawback is that there’s just so much information out there. However, if you keep your focus on just half a dozen renowned blogs, you can quickly learn everything you need to know about growing your business.
Here at Invoice Ninja, we also share vital information for newbie freelancers and young solopreneurs, right here on the Invoice Ninja blog.
- Tap your existing network
Whether it’s family, friends, former work colleagues, old college professors, or your long-time hairdresser, you potentially have a huge network of potential client referrers. When starting out as a freelancer, it’s important to let everyone know what you’re doing and that you’re actively looking for new clients. Ask people if they know anyone who needs the services you provide.
For example, an uncle or an aunt may know someone at their workplace who has recently been complaining about something you can fix. Within just a few days of starting your business, you suddenly have a new lead. And if you do a good job, that first client will refer you to even more people, and so on and so on.
All without a single dime being spent on advertising.
- Actively contact potential clients
Setting up an email account is free. Writing and sending emails is free. Gaining a new client from an intelligently written email is also free. Email prospecting is where you enquire as to whether a potentially interested prospect might benefit from your freelancing services. It’s very targeted and each email needs to be unique, personable and tailored to the particular recipient.
It’s not a case of selling but rather just letting them know you exist. They’ll either need you or they won’t.
It’s important not to send hundreds or thousands of copies of the same salesy email to multiple different recipients, as this is both ineffective, rude, and potentially illegal, depending on where you live.
- Download good quality project management tools
There are hundreds of tools and apps which can be downloaded and used without paying a single penny. For freelancers, project management platforms and time tracking tools are particularly useful. Kanban boards allow you to keep track of your work and plan effectively, while time tracking software helps you to accurately record your billed hours as well as find weaknesses in your workflow.
At Invoice Ninja, you can use both Kanban boards and time trackers, for free! Plus, you can integrate numerous apps with your free Invoice Ninja account including Gmail, Google Sheets, QuickBooks Online, Slack, Pipeline, MailChimp and so many more.
Start your freelancing dream today, for free
As long as you have an internet connection, then there’s really no financial excuse from preventing you beginning your freelancing career.
With a free website, free invoicing software, free access to social networks, free educational information, free email accounts, and a plethora of free tools and apps, you can start your freelance dream literally from nothing, right this very moment.