How to Get the Best Start as a Freelancer
If you’re reading this, then you probably already have an interest in becoming a freelancer, or may have already made the decision to ditch the conventional 9 to 5 office job and put yourself out there as an independent worker. Being successful in freelancing can be really down to the start you get – can you get everything ready to ensure you’re busy with enough work to make freelancing worthwhile? Do you have enough clients? Are you charging enough to pay your bills?
Starting out in the freelancing field, there is a lot to contend with and get your head around; acquiring new clients, and servicing them to the highest standard and keeping them happy – as well as all the day to day aspects of running a sole trading business. As 3 Wise Bears work with lots of experienced freelancers on a day to day basis, we’ve put together our top freelancing tips for those new to freelancing, looking to get the best start in their career move.
Sort Out Your Portfolio
When looking for freelancing work, your CV should no longer be your focus, as it means very little to businesses who employ freelancers. Your focus should now be all about your portfolio, so you need to ensure it’s in the best shape it can physically be. From now on your focus should really be on the quality, rather than quantity of work you can do, that will pull more weight with potential clients. However, that’s not to say some of the high-profile companies you’ve worked for in the past are useless – what they can do is open plenty of doors for new freelancing work and will go a long way in building your portfolio. Having good, solid work you’ve done for big companies in the past will only strengthen your portfolio.
If you have lots of work available to put in your portfolio, but are not sure how to structure your offering or how much to include, we highly recommend narrowing it down to what you consider to be your very best pieces of work as potential clients won’t spend ages looking through a portfolio, which makes it vital to grab the attention in the first few pieces of work you showcase. Alternatively, you can make an array of portfolios that correspond to different industry sectors, for example, you may have one portfolio for B2B and another for B2C.
Make the most of online opportunities
As a freelancer, you need to take advantage of all of the digital resources available. Before you start, it helps to have a mobile-friendly website, a memorable logo, onsite imagery, social media accounts that you post on regularly – basically, everything to build your personal brand, is similar to how you would treat a client. Having a website is crucial to getting your portfolio online, so when you’re looking for new clients, you can send them your website where all your work will be displayed rather than having to send them a pdf or physical copy of your portfolio. In short, it makes you seem more professional and experienced by having an online profile set up. We would also recommend being active on social media accounts from LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook – again these help build your brand, and show your interest in the industries you work in.
There are also lots of websites which can support freelancers in getting work and where freelancers support one another, it’s important you investigate these sites to ensure you’re not missing any opportunities for roles. Whilst they may only offer small jobs, they can offer easy stop gaps in between big projects. An example includes: https://www.peopleperhour.com/,
Be disciplined and determined
Starting out as a freelancer can be daunting, with long days and loneliness playing their part, and in the first few months work can be a little slow, making life tough. However, be disciplined in your approach, stay active and as your client base builds your days will become shorter. Identify your core offering as a freelancer – you can keep it relatively broad to start with, then narrow it down once you have a better feel for the marketplace you’re working in. Be determined in your outreach to new prospective clients, and be cautious about doing any work for free to demonstrate your ability. This is often a scam used by some people/companies who will crowdsource lots of free ‘samples’ from freelancers to get the job done, and then never use your services again.
Watch your finances
When work starts to get busy, it can sometimes be difficult to stay on top of your incomings and outgoings and financial management can often start to become an issue after few months of becoming a freelancer. It’s vital you stay on top of your finances if you have aspirations of being a successful freelance business person however, there is a lot to think about, such as tax, vat, expenses and financial management. If you need help with your finances, or you’re not really sure where to begin, we highly recommend talking to one of our freelancer accountants, who’ll be able to advise you accordingly with the financial management required to be a successful freelancer. This way, you can also save time on worrying about your income and focus solely on your work, and acquiring new clients.
Spend time networking
Building a network of clients and industry contacts is vital to the long-term success of any freelancer. When you make the transition to full-time freelancer, we highly recommend letting everyone in your working life know of your plans, from old clients to ex-work colleagues. The truth is, the more experience, contacts, and references you have when you go freelance, the easier it will be to get work.
Reputation and experience are some of the key aspects of being a busy freelancer. If you’re fairly new to the game and haven’t been working in the industry that long before you turned freelance, perhaps consider reaching out to friends, local businesses or non-profit causes you support. Offer them some work in exchange for a testimonial, or at a reduced fee in order to build your reputation. Eventually, you won’t need to rely on testimonials as your reputation and work will carry you through to bigger and better clients.
3 Wise Bears are specialist accountants for freelancers, small businesses, e-commerce, contractors, and property landlords. We have knowledge of how to make accounting and tax stress truly a thing of the past for freelancers. Get in touch with one of the experts today.