I am encountering the same question over and over again, How to get started in odesk, how to get started in freelancing and how to get a job? It’s more than about answering a single question; I have to write a full post about it. So today I want to write a full guide dedicated on how to start your own freelance business.
In the past I have written a full post on how to start your career at odesk, it helped a lot of my readers but some them got stuck at the race. Now let us forget there is any website called odesk for a minute and you are all your own starting a freelance business at your own, what will you do? How will you do?
Get in hands of what ever you have!
Do you keep your tools in a bag?
Bring it over, if not just get a bag and put all your stuffs there and see what things you have in your disposal.
Now my meaning here is you get everything you have in your favor and start building with it.
You have a computer –GOOD! You have internet -GREAT! You have a website, that’s awesome! Just make a list of things you have, that will be helpful in your upcoming freelance business:
- Internet connection
- Cell phone
- Some accessories like headphone/webcam
- A degree in computer basics
- A blog/website/domain name
- A facebook profile with 100 friends
- A pair of sneakers!
- etc etc etc!!
Now the reason for doing this is to make you aware that how much you are already prepared for your upcoming business. So many people stress out on what they do not have, but can’t see what things they already have!
Let’s write down a plan!
Nothing will work IF YOU DO NOT PLAN and also nothing will happen if you just plan and do nothing at all. So remember one thing, you must plan before you start something. Make it simple; don’t make a 20 page corporate style presentation for plan and goals upto 2020, that’s just too much!
To help you get started, just list 4-5 things you want to achieve through your own freelance business. Such as:
- I want to run my own business
- I want to earn more money
- I want to work from home
- I want to learn and help people
- I want that Digital camera/laptop
- Add one more thing here…
When you know what things you want to achieve through your business, you will soon start to figure out how to do the things and how to proceed, such as you will know you have to earn at least $XXX every month; you will know that you have to work on X number of projects each month and for doing all these stuff you have to spend XX amount of money every single month (for bills, internet, electricity and other stuff).
Try to create a short term realistic plan which is easy for you to stick around and follow. Such as by short I mean 6 months and to be realistic, say you want to make $100 every month that will lead you to a target of $600 in 6 months.
If you think 100 dollars are too low for you, then just put your favorite realistic figure over there but make sure you keep it nominal.
Now after 6 month if you see there are no such improvements in your work, then just redo your plan, that’s it!
Think a name, niche and get started with a website
Make this process as quick as possible; do not spend too much time on thinking much about it. You see when people start thinking about business names; it is the one hell of a time. Since you are starting your own freelance business and you are the only one who will provide the services, name it after you. Such as if I name my business after my own, it will be: Tamal Anwar Services, or Tamal’s Web Design Services.
Again, do not think much about domains, keywords, trademarks, incorporation, and no nothing! The only thing that is important now is you have to get it going. Once you gain enough knowledge in the industry and have a number of clients, you can redo the whole part again.
The same way think about your primary niche, I mean the major service you will be offering. Such as you will be doing logos, so your primary niche is logo and graphics design. In freelance business, specific niche works even better. Such as article writing is a broad term, why not “Medical Article Writing” this will be easy for your target client to find you and will lead you into getting more work.
Always have your own domain and website, domains cost too little and for hosting you can get a free or a cheap plan. Having your own website means having your own office for your freelance business.
After you set your website, create pages and get ready to reach clients and work.
Let us polish up your online office
Your online office is your website. Simply create a website on wordpress and spice it up with a professional looking template/theme. You don’t have to be a designer or spend hundreds of dollars doing it; great templates can be found for free of charge.
Create a couple of business pages; let me list them here:
- Home page: Of course, this is your default page, write a short welcome introduction here. A couple of your expertise and recent work. Make sure you give a small taste of what your whole website is about.
- About page: Your client would like to know who you are and where you from. Write a good about page and include a picture of yours.
- Portfolio page: This one is a must have. Here you will list your best work, when a client is looking for a freelancer, he or she will want to see your work before contacting you. If you are a designer, put your best work. If you are a photographer, put your best shots. If you are a writer, then link to the content you written for.
- Testimonials page: Your clients will like to see the testimonials; these are the good words that your past clients have said about you. If you have worked before and earned some feedback, show them here. If you do not have any testimonials, then drop this page. In the mean time work on some projects to earn some testimonials.
- Contact page: This is the most important page of your business site; give your client/visitor a way to contact you. You can put your email address, phone number for them to connect. Also use a contact form. If you are available on skype or yahoo messenger, add it.
That was almost all of the pages for now, but you are not limited to my guideline, you can do even better, but make sure you do not end up working a whole lot in your own site. There are much more things to do.
Outline some business ethics
Yes you are running a business and for this you have to think it like a business; if you are not a registered company, you still own a business on “Sole Proprietorship” and that is very good for someone like you who is just getting started.
Write down a couple of terms for your own business. Such as when I work with a client, I require 50% money paid in advance and the rest is when the project is done. I offer a 15-30 day after sales service and I work Monday to Friday on my client sites. –These are some of my business ethics that I won’t break. And for this client knows that I am a serious business person and takes me seriously.
Of course you can have your own set of rules and regulations, it is important. Such as setting up an office time for your freelancing work, this gives the client an idea that this person is not available 24/7 and that he or she maintains an office hour.
In the beginning of your journey you won’t be able to put much on what you want, because you need work and money to pay your bills, but afterwards when you are getting regular business you can throw in your own terms.
Let us use oDesk in our favor
We still need freelance websites such as odesk and elance, they have a lot of clients whom you are looking for. You can take idea from other odesk users in your field how they have completed their profile. Also odesk provides the Payoneer MasterCard that you can use to accept payments from your clients. When you are working directly with your client, you can use the load service from payoneer that will allow your client to load money to your card directly.
Please remember, contacting a client through odesk and asking them to pay you outside of odesk is still against their terms. So make sure you stay honest with all these stuff.
Market your services
After you setup your business, it is time for you to market your business. If your clients are on the internet (most of them are) use social media such as facebook, twitter and linkedin for potential clients. Linkedin.com is a large network for professionals and you will sure get a match for your services.
Targeted clients come through google search and for this start a blog on your freelance topic. Such as one killer example I am going to give you: When I started my first freelance business, I was offering WordPress Thesis Design Services. I created video tutorials on that topic and put them on youtube. I put the same videos on the blog and it started to send visitors in my website. As people learned that I am an expert in my field they connected with me and hired me.
Nothing works better than offering free content over the internet; just see I have created BlogKori and the reason you are taking my advice because it has helped you in the past and you will keep coming again.
Also you can seek out local customers. If you attend a conference or a seminar where you have the opportunity to meet new people, don’t be afraid to ask them if they might be interested in your services. Now days almost everyone wants to have a website or blog. They want to use the internet, and this is the right time for you to pitch your idea.
What I did?
After all these bragging you must be interested to know what I did in my own freelance business. Many of you know that I work as a freelance web designer but I haven’t discussed much about it in a blog. I own and run my freelance business at TTD.
I work with many small to medium size business around the world. I have worked with authors, marketers, business people, photographers and fitness trainers. I started this business back in 2010 right after I started to work in odesk. My business is going great with the mercy of God, at this point it is going on auto pilot. This means that my website is giving me enough clients whom I can choose from without even updating the site.
It was a long journey, if you take a look at the site, you will see it is almost perfect; I had to put a lot work in putting it all together. What you see was built from a small idea. So many testimonials that is okay for me to get going. It doesn’t happen in a single day, you have to take time. Will tell you about it in some other post.
Okay, let’s set a new mindset
Many people who have contacted me requesting for a solution, I found that these people were in a rush. I mean they need to get it started and earn some quick cash fast. I know money is important to pay the bills and stay alive but if you are looking for a quick solution then it’s not what you are looking for. You see what I am outlining is a full plan for a career. And that does not mean what you will do in summer holiday or something you will do for 6 months; I am talking about years, or even for a lifetime.
Freelancing could be something that you can do as a fulltime job, something that pays more than what you can earn from a day job and something that gives you the freedom to work with whenever you want, whomever you want; something that I do and I am going to do for a long time.
So please remember that it won’t start with high payouts nor it will give you much freedom in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t be able to resist it.
Many people will criticize you for not having a real job and say that you are wasting your time, but at the end it will sure pay off. So do not think it is something you are going to do for 2-3 months, if you are serious in owning your own freelance business, then dive into it for longer.
For more freelancing tips, guides and expert information, visit this blog: www.FreelanceFolder.com (even better if you subscribe it in email)
Your time to speak
- Are you a freelancer/ do you wish to own a business?
- Have you ever thought of being one?
- What are the challenges you faced in being a freelance worker?