If you haven’t yet started freelancing or you are a seasoned freelancer, today’s show will be awesome for you. Your business is always changing and the steps in this show will put you on the path to success.
This is a bit of an odd question for me to answer since it’s been well over a decade from when I started freelancing.
But when thinking about this question, every time I’ve gone through the process of niching down my business or thinking about adding a new service to my business or exploring a new opportunity, I tend to do the same thing each and every time that I know will help.
And so because I want to share with you only stuff that’s of value, I did a bit of searching around first.
I’m still shocked by the amount of bad advice that’s floating around on the internet.
When I put this question in Google, articles that come up were still spouting the terrible advice about
- doing free work just to build up your portfolio
- learn a new skill to “diversify your skill-base and make you more valuable”
- attend local business networking events
The reason this is terrible advice is that this is old school thinking. This is the stuff that I did because I read it was the way!
Know where that landed me? Back sitting at a desk in a cube once and then almost twice.
freelancing is your business, treat it that way
If you are taking your first steps being freelance seriously, then you have to look at it like a business.
Remember it’s your first steps into freelancing so you have to keep it simple to start.
Stick to the stuff you know because there are many things that you don’t know at this very early stage of your career.
This is your job now!
It’s a job that you want to grow.
It’s a job that you want to be able to live life the way you want.
It’s a job that you need to take serious and make money from.
With that in mind, I’ve found that there are 3 things when starting out that work in tandem.
Anytime I do the things that I mention it’s these 3 things together that seem to put me on the path to success.
1. Making money is key
If you aren’t making money, then it’s a hobby. You need to make money and the only way to know if freelancing will be for you is to get paid for it. So whatever you do, do not do work for free as your first step. You need to be able to know that the thing you decide on to do freelance is a viable source of income for you.
Do what you need to land that first paying client. Talk to people, friends, family, even past and current employers and connect with that person you need to in order to provide them help with their problem that you can solve.
2. Leverage skills you have
In order to know that freelancing is viable for you, don’t try and learn new skills.
There are 2 reasons for this.
First, when you learn something new, you’ll add in so many variables to the equation that you won’t know if what you are choosing to do isn’t working, or it’s the fact that you are trying a new skill don’t know what you are doing is the reason freelance isn’t working.
Second, would you rather pay $150 for a ticket to see Billy Joel play piano or $150 for a ticket to see a 7-year old’s first piano recital?
3. Figure out your worth
Your very first project will not be a good estimate for your worth, yet so many freelancers set a price and stick with it for way too long. Because you’ve never done it before, how could you possibly put a price tag on it? You can’t, but at the beginning, you’ll want to get paid to do the 'thing,' so come up with the best guess and put a price on it. Then as you work on the project, track all the time spent on every single thing you do for the client.
Track your time for:
- The actual project work
- How much time you spend in meetings/on calls
- How much time you spend writing emails
- How much time you spend on the administrative work like billing
Knowing all the time spent will allow you to see hard numbers around the value of the service you provide. Don’t stop there though, the second part of knowing your value is to figure out what the value of the project means to the client.
Did you save them time? Did you bring them new customers? Did you increase revenue? Knowing the time you spent on the project and what the client gets as a result, you can then know how much you are worth.
Just like a baby taking their first steps, clear the path of any and all obstacles.
Keep it simple!
Stick to what you know, get paid, and track your time. That’s all you need to do to start freelancing with success in mind.
Start a Freelance Business
More episodes in this topic:
What are the costs involved in becoming a freelancer?
Is the income from freelancing reliable?
What payment structure should I do?
How do you build a good freelancing profile in the field of web development considering the competition?
What are skills you can learn fast and have high freelancer value?
How to start freelancing?
Should you do free work to build a portfolio?
What is freelance?
How can I start freelancing without experience?
What does it take to be a freelancer?
Why did you start freelancing?
What is the very first step to work as a freelancer?
How do you set the boundary of work you do and work you don't do?
What are your client red flags?
What should you be able to create as a web developer before starting in your freelance career?
When starting out freelance, should I just be a generalist to get my feet wet, or should I go for that niche?
As a developer, should I throw my projects on Github or build a site from scratch to grab attention?
What can I use for social proof when starting as a freelancer?
How can I start freelancing as a web developer?
Should I use my name or create a business name when starting?
Should I call myself a “freelancer” (definitive answer)?
Why should you not be a freelancer?
How do you collect online payments as a freelancer
How much money do I need to make?
Why is hourly billing bad?
Why is hourly billing good?
What are the biggest mistakes a freelancer can make?
How to adapt and change to the WordPress climate?
How to budget as a freelancer?
What is your marketing plan?
What is your sales process?
What do you do to position yourself as an expert to leads?
How do you balance your time for sales and marketing?
How do you get high-quality clients?
Should I offer my services as a web designer/developer or specialize first?
What do you do again?
What is the best freelancing website?
What do you do for a follow-up sequence for leads?
How to attract clients with big budgets?
How not to be annoying in sales?
How do you convince someone to sign a contract?
What to say when a client is late on a payment?
Best of Season 3 - Get out of the comfort zone
Best of Season 3 - Building Relationships
S06 E12 - Undercharging, Targeting the Wrong Audience, and What You Should Do About It with Alex McClafferty
S03 Bonus - Tom McFarlin on Blogging, Balancing Work and Family, and Building a Business that Lasts
S09 E11 - Differentiation, Reputation, and Pivoting From the Top-Down with Peep Laja
S01 E11 - Kai Davis helping freelancers get more clients with outreach