15 Tips for a Successful Freelance Career - Part 2
Yes, you’ve made it, ditched all the meetings about meetings (eye-roll) and you’re ready to level up your business knowledge and run a successful freelance brand. While this is over-the-moon exciting, I want to share another 5 tips I wish someone had shared with me before I left my 9-5 so I could start my journey on a productive and educated note.
6 | Get subscribers
That’s a yucky word and makes me feel the pressure to put out magazine content. But giving your readers a reason to submit their email address to you means that you’re creating a community of people who appreciate your content, are interested in your services and would like to hear more from you. And you have the potential to use this to your advantage by sending out a newsletter (another yucky word) where you can share more intimate stories and behind the scenes and exclusive content, directing them back to your site.
If you’re a photographer you could send them 2 stock photos a month. If you run a food blog or nutritional services, send out a 1-week meal plan. Add value by sharing secrets and insider info.
7 | Manage your finances
This was also a no-brainer to me but I realise we’re not all financially-minded. Take the time to create a spreadsheet to keep track of all your debts and credits until you can afford to hire a bookkeeper or accountant. Here’s an overview of how I set mine up when I started out to keep myself on track:
- Forecasted earnings monthly sheet with client, deliverables, projected project end date and estimated amount
- Actual earnings monthly sheet with client, deliverables, duration of project and final amount paid
- Business expenses with services/items, which account the money was debited from (cheque, PayPal), date, amount
You’ll really thank yourself in the long run if you keep a sharp eye, allowing you to see financial growth and viability of your business.
8 | Set up a website
Thinking back, I feel stupid I didn’t do this in the beginning. I was so non-committal about my name and formalising a business that I operated solely on my Behance portfolio. This is a great community, don’t get me wrong, but there was no way I could track whether my clients reviewed my work. In short, creating your own digital space is important and easy (with the likes of Squarespace and other similar platforms), just do it.
9 | Set up your social accounts
Like I said here, I didn’t realise the full potential of social media when I started out and relied solely on referrals. This means I had a super late start in building up some sort of a following and networking with potential clients and other entrepreneurs in my industry. Get connected, do research about where your clients hang out and start sharing and engaging.
10 | Make friends
Seriously, ladies, I feel strongly about this one and am scurrying now to make up for the year I was freelance-flaffing before starting my own business. Get to know other bosses in your industry, meet other entrepreneurs and make meaningful connections. This can be difficult for introverted personalities, but I really believe creating a strong community is beneficial in so many ways. You’ll get to learn new things, be inspired, create opportunities for collaborations and get referrals. If you’re wondering how this can be done when you’re sitting at home for roughly 24 hours a day, here’s a quick list:
- go to product launches
- join Facebook groups and get involved in the community discussions
- read and comment on blog posts by bosses you admire
- respond to newsletters (it may seem scary but this makes any business owner smile so pack away that fear and start typing)
- visit expos and indabas (like the annual Design Indaba - I walk around chatting to all the brands and fellow go-ers)
- join in on something like First Thursdays or go to an exhibition opening at a local gallery
Are you a new freelancer? I'd love to hear all about your journey in the comments.
What has been your best move starting out by yourself?
Missed the other posts in this series?