There are many reasons why people go freelance; more opportunities, having the freedom of being your own boss, or earning more money for your work. Whether you are a plumber, journalist, artist, photographer, construction worker, or musician; you have the opportunity to change your lifestyle. Before you pick up the phone and tell your manager what you really think of your job, there are many risks involved. So knowing what to do can be vital to your success.
Here is some advice on the best practice to starting a freelance career.
Before you start it is important to figure out if there is room in the market for your services.Some online markets like social media specialists operate in an overcrowded market with a low barrier to entry, so it is difficult to get regular custom. Make sure you either offer something different, or your service fulfils a need. If a competitor isn’t succeeding, is it because there was no need for the service? Analysing competition will also give you an idea of what is possible to achieve in the marketplace, such as sales and growth. It could be the market is too small and it isn’t worth competing in.
Find out your worth
One of the most difficult aspects of becoming a freelance is determining how much you can charge. If you are a rookie, clients may feel that they are taking a risk in hiring your services. A cheaper price than competition might be enough to tempt them to hire you, but avoid underselling yourself too much. Else you will gain a reputation for being cheap. Alternatively, if you offer something with your product or service that is of value to consumers, when competitors don’t then you might be able to charge a higher rate. It is a balancing act, and it helps if you have already had experience in the industry.
Set realistic goals
You should have some sort of plan, and it is important to have goals set so that you don’t become distracted, and have something to work towards. By setting timeframes you can accurately gage the success of your business. This doesn’t work if the goals you set are not realistic, and you may need to adjust targets as you work. It is important as a freelance that you know where your money will be coming from. So book clients in advance, and space your calendar out so that you can maintain a good life balance. Organising appointments and scheduling work in a calendar will keep you organised, and help you in sticking to completing your goals.
Building your client base can take time, and can lead to many freelancers struggling to make enough income from the start. It is therefore a good idea to network as much as possible so that you are established as part of the scene. Networking has many different guises, the old-fashioned way would be to meet locals at a nearby pub. Whereas these days it is much more professional. It can be useful to attend local trade events, even national industry shows. Finally, a lot of networking opportunities are now online. It could be useful to start a blog, be a regular in a forum, or use social media to express your expertise on your career path.
Join a union:
Unions may seem a bit Thatcher, and they mostly get negative press these days but they are very useful for freelancers. The chances are that as a freelance you have a particular skill, which might not be related to contracts, contractor insurance, or disputes. By joining a union, you will usually have access to experienced industry experts who can give advice or legal support in the case that something goes wrong. Contracts are especially important when you are self-employed, because it gives you protection against clients who refuse to pay or have changed their mind.
As mentioned before, it can be difficult to get consumers or businesses to hire you when you don’t have a big reputation to rely on. Therefore, a good way of taking away the risk element is to ask customers to provide you with a testimonial on the work you have provided. Recommendations through word of mouth can take time, so by posting something on a website or social media account, you are spreading the review to numerous people at once. Pictures will also help but make sure to get permission to post beforehand, as you might just undo all your good work by annoying customers. It is also important not to make up or edit reviews, you will get found out and your reputation will be negative even before you’ve started.
About the Author:
This article is contributed by Alice Porter. She is an avid writer, who works with a settlement agreement solicitors Manchester.