10 Things You Must Know Before Becoming a Freelancer
- Freelancing is not a get rich quick scheme
- Starting a freelance business isn't cheap
- You won't get overnight success
- You're in business for yourself
- You'll need a good network to secure freelance clients
- Everything you do depends on you
- There are no set schedules, you determine your own time
- There's no one looking over your shoulder as you work
- Legal, tax and financial issues are a real thing
- If you sell at a Marketplace, expect to lose at least 20% of earnings
Why should you have a freelance business plan?
Before you go into business as a freelancer, you may want to take some time to think through what you hope to gain. As a freelancer, you are a small business owner and having a business plan will help you explore many important options. This could also be an important tool for gaining an investor or business partner who will fund your freelance dreams.
7 Good Reasons to Create a Freelancer Business Plan
There are many good reasons to create a business plan for your freelance business.
- Road map for success. Think of your business plan as a road map for success; a suggested way to run your business, rather than a set in stone mandate for how things will go. No one can predict the future, but a business plan allows you to clarify issues you might not have otherwise consider so you can have a contingency plan.
- Identify your niche. When you create a business plan, you will be able to consider such questions as " hat are my marketable skills?" or "Which skills are currently in high demand"? Let's say you are a writer and aspire to a successful freelance writing career. But, have you considered such things as who your competition is or where you will publish? If you are an artist, where will you sell your work? The answer to these questions can mean the difference between freelancing writing success and failure.
- Helps you create career path. Unlike a traditional 9 to 5 job, where your employer offers promotions, as a freelancer, you will have to create your own career plan. A business plan will help you establish concrete goals so you can visualize the path ahead and determine your next step. These goals will allow you to aim higher and increase your earnings rather than plateauing in mediocrity. Maybe you want to start by publishing on Hubpages and over time move up to publishing a Kindle ebook.
- Gain a business partner. Nothing spells success like a business plan. And, usually the process of gaining a financial backer will involve making a pitch with a plan. Your potential investor will want to know, how you will earn money; what you will do and what's in it for them. All this is answered in your business plan.
- Create business policies to live by. Whether or not you choose to freelance full or part time, you will want to have policies about such things as time management, customer communication and interaction. All these things can be fully explored in your business plan.
- Identify a marketing strategy. Until you consider all the possible ways to advertise or promote your freelance business, you will be a freelancer without clients. And, that means no money.
- Determine your true worth as a freelancer. If given the option, some clients will push you to discount or charge cut rate prices. But, as a freelancer, you must decide what your services are really worth. The business plan will help you evaulate such factors as marketability of your services as well as current niche competition. All these factors will determine your price.
Your Freelancer Question of the Day
What factor is most important to you as a freelancer?
Some questions to consider when starting your freelance business
However you choose to document your business plan, whether on paper or software, the most important elements are the questions you will ask yourself. These questions will help you generate new ideas about how your business will be run and generate guidelines which you can follow later during your freelance career.
Though you might be tempted to skip this all important step of business plan creation, you should take a moment to at least consider the questions as they will help you take your freelancing aspirations from the dream to reality stage. With concrete answers to questions such as "Who are my ideal clients?" and "How much money will I charge per service?", you will quickly begin to formulate a success plan that can easily guide your freelance career.
About my Freelance Business
- What is your business name?
- Where will your office be located? Will you work from home or office?
- What type of business equipment do you have now to complete services, such as software or computers?
- What equipment or software will you need to buy to offer your freelance services?
- Who is your business partner?
What Will I Sell?
- What is my freelance specialty?
- What type of services will I sell to earn money? (i.e. web design, SEO, writing)
- Who are my ideal clients?
- Who is my competition?
- How will I sell my services? For instance, direct to customer or via a freelance website
Time Management for Projects
- How many hours will I spend on each project?
- How many hours per week will be billable? For instance, will I work a 40 hour week?
- What are my business hours?
- How will I handle requests or emails from clients after business hours?
- How many days in my work week? How many hours in a work day?
- Will I be available in mornings or evenings to work?
- Will I work on weekends?
- Will I be available by email or Skype for my clients as needed?
What Is My Marketing Plan?
- What marketing methods will I use to find new clients?
- What type of promotion will I do to find new clients?
- Where will I market online?
- Where will I market offline?
- Which specific forums or Facebook groups will I target when advertising services?
- How many clients do I want to receive as a result of marketing?
- What is my monthly budget for advertising and marketing?
- Will I hire someone to market my business or do all promotion for myself?
About my Freelance Finances
- Will I quit my job to focus on freelancing?
- Will freelancing be a full or part time endeavor?
- Do I have sufficient savings to support myself while building a clientele?
- How much money will I charge for services?
- What is my minimum charge per service or billable hour?
- What business expenses do I have, such as office rent; internet fees; software; employees?
- Will I earn money from multiple sources or specialize in one type of service?
Consequences of not having a business plan
It's tempting to skip the business plan step. But there are some serious consequences.
- You won't know what to charge when a client asks what your fees are
- You are likely to feel overwhelmed by your work day if you don't have a set plan as to what your hours will be
- You will not know when to begin or end a project
- You are more likely to undercharge for your services or succumb to pressures to discount services
- Your marketing plan will not be defined, so you are likely to skip promotion which will lead to few clients
How to identify your freelance niche
Identifying your niche as a freelancer will help you understand the market for your services.
For instance, if you are a writer, will you be doing copywriting or article writing? Will you specialize in blog posts written for others or create Hubs on your own?
- What skills do I have now that I could offer for sale, such as writing, graphics design, etc?
- Is there a ready market for my services?
- Is this niche over saturated?
- How can I set myself apart from well established competitors?
- What services have my competitors ignored in this niche?
How will I communicate with my clients?
Communication is another important factor to consider when designing your business plan.
Formulate a plan for how you will talk with your clients. If you are truly independent, such as securing your own clients, then this will most likely be done via email, Skype or messenger. However, if you solicit clients through freelance websites, you may be restricted to communicating via private message on the site. This can limit your potential for repeat business as you will have no way other than private message to reach your customer. Consider these things when choosing where and how you sell your services
Taking a few moments to answer all these questions will give you a better idea of your status as a professional freelancer and ensure your success. Equipped with the answers, you will easily be able to transition into your dream job as a freelancer, having thought through all the possibilities of what could go right or wrong.
© 2014 Beverly Johnson