One of the most exciting decisions you’ll ever make as a freelance professional is one you’ve already made – the decision to start a freelance business.
Freelancing is an exciting career path. As you quickly research how to set up a new freelance business, your skin will be tingling as you imagine the liberating lifestyle you can potentially enjoy.
And your dreams wouldn’t be inaccurate either. There are many freelancers who, with hard work and dedication, have gone on to build 6-figure careers for themselves. It’s a realistic goal and one you too can achieve.
What’s more, you can set up your new freelance business in just 24 hours.
As a solopreneur offering services, you can begin almost immediately, and start earning money within just a few days. Whether you’re a graduate fresh out of college, an unhappy employee looking for a way out of a 9-to-5 job, or a new mom desperate to earn money from home, a lucrative freelance career is there for the taking.
Things to consider in the first 12 hours
However, as you pace your home with bustling energy and research domain names, there are a few things you might want to consider before setting up a website
(See also: Is freelancing really for you?)
A few initial hours of planning will ensure you enjoy a strong and stable start to your freelancing career.
In fact, it’s often wise to sleep on these decisions before taking any action at all. A good night’s sleep will incubate the plans you have and allow you to come at them again in the cold light of the morning, with deeper clarity.
So what do you need to bear in mind?
Decide what you want to do and why
You probably already have a good idea of the freelance business you want to create. If you enjoy writing, for example, you might be considering setting up a blogging business. If you have experience working in the fashion or beauty industry, you might be thinking of becoming a freelance editorial stylist or personal shopper.
It’s important to not only consider the short-term but also the long-term. Is this a career direction you can imagine being passionate about in 5 years or 10 years? Is it one which can be scaled up? Who are your ideal clients? Also, is there market demand for what you do? Loving your work is essential but it will always be a hobby if no one will pay you.
Define your services
Knowing what your business is about is one thing, understanding exactly how you can translate this into much sought after services is another. How can you leverage your skills into services people need and want?
A good course of action is to explore what other people are doing in the field in which you want to focus. Check out their websites and study the services they offer, as well as portfolio examples and client testimonials. Study forums where your target audience interact and look for clues as to the common problems for which people need solutions.
Your research will help you put together a collection of services, which you can then make your own.
Define your brand
Once you know in more detail what services you’ll offer, it’s time to create a brand identity. Strong branding is essential to your marketing and sales efforts. Your brand is essentially the identity by which your target market will associate your business. You need it to be clear and compelling.
A good brand identity comes from knowing your target market inside and out. The more targeted a focus, the easier you will find it to attract your perfect clients.
This is where specializing in a particular niche market or service can help you early on. Freelancers who specialize tend to get noticed more easily and also charge higher rates than their generalist counterparts. A brand focused around a niche service, industry, or customer is more potent.
Setting up your freelance business
When you know the services and brand identity you want to create, it’s time to get your freelancing career off the ground.
The next step is to build a website.
Choosing a domain name and hosting
Every freelancer needs a website. It’s your business home on the net and the first place potential clients go when they want to know more about you.
You don’t need to invest a lot of money on a snazzy new website right from the get-go. You can reinvest your earnings later on. The most important things to get right at the beginning are the domain name (your url) and basic functionality.
As a freelancer, there are a few ways to go about choosing a domain. You can simply use your name, if it’s relatively rare. Or, you can use your name plus a keyword which reflects your line of work (for example: johnsmitheditor). If you prefer to work under a business name, then this will need to be your domain as well.
Once the domain name has been purchased, you can then invest in a self-hosted website and an easy-to-use website builder. These have been designed for anyone to quickly set up and get going, within a couple of hours.
Examples include WordPress and Wix, which are very user-friendly and come with a variety of pre-made templates ready for near-instant use.
Collect together essential tools
Before you open the proverbial doors to your business, you’ll need some essential tools.
For example, prior to any client work, it’s wise to send a deposit invoice with an upfront request for a percentage of the final fee (see: invoicing etiquette). This prevents unscrupulous clients from not paying you at all. It also improves your cash flow, which is vital early in your career.
At Invoice Ninja, we provide freelancers with free invoicing solutions to all of their day-to-day needs including the creation of branded invoices, quotes, and proposals as well as a wide array of app integration and synchronization options. Plus, a huge number of payment gateways, time-tracking systems, and project management Kanban boards.
Everything is very easy and intuitive to use.
Announcing yourself to the world
Nearly 24 hours has past and you’re all set to work with clients. Your new freelance business is born.
The next stage is to write some basic initial copy on your website, telling visiting prospects who you are and how you can help them. You can build on this in the days to come. Initially you can write this content yourself but in time it might be a wise investment to work with a copywriter.
With optimized content, together with social media updates, outbound sales techniques, regular blogging, targeted outreach, and networking, you’ll soon find yourself working on some exciting projects.
You really can set up your new freelancing business within 24 hours from now.
That said, if you’re not clear on exactly what you want to do and why, then it’s wise to spend an extra week or two really getting these points clear in your mind.