Your 10 Step Guide to Starting a Freelance Business (Part 1)

You might be in high school or a student, heck you might even be 40 and working for a boss. The same thought has been keeping you awake for a week or two and finally after much contemplation you have made your decision. You are going to start Freelancing. Yes, you have made your decision, but now what? I was speaking to a friend of mine a while back and he said that he decided he wants to start freelancing, but has no idea where to start. I decided I will write this post to bring everyone up to date with what you should do once you have made the decision.

First of all, what is your freelance decision based on? If you are in High School or you are a Student its understandable, you want to make money. Once you have a family its different though, you have more responsibilities, bills to pay, people to feed. Is your decision based on, “not wanting to work for a boss?” It doesn’t really matter, what matters is that you are pumped to start freelancing. Just before we get started, I just want to make sure you understand something clearly. Freelancing isn’t easy, whoever said “freelancing is a breeze and you will be working much less,” is an idiot. Yes, the difference is you decide when you want to work, but you have to do everything yourself. Anyway, lets get started.

Step 1 – Organize your Life

Image by Curiosmess
You might be thinking your life is organized, is it really? Do you have enough time in your day to sit down for a few hours and work on client projects? Wait, aren’t you currently employed 9-5? That means your family isn’t seeing much of you at all and when you get home at night the kids probably want to spend some time with you and perhaps your spouse too? Where has that time gone now?

Remember you can’t neglect your family, yet you still want some time for yourself to get some extra work done right? How about you work out a schedule to start off with. If your a employed person you would probably get up at half past 6 or 7 in the morning, have some breakfast and then get ready for work and commute. What I propose is that you get up 2 or 3 hours earlier, simply because you will have peace and quiet in the house whilst the family sleeps and you will be able to get some work done. Yes, it won’t be easy in the beginning, but if you are determined to make a success of your freelancing career this is where you have to start.

Remember once you go full out freelancer then your work times will change radically, believe me its worth it. Do you remember what I said in the beginning of this post? Freelancing isn’t easy. The hardest part is getting started with this, but when you are on the move there is definitely no looking back.

Step 1 – Conclusion: Make sure you organize your life, get your priorities straight and put some effort into starting your freelance career. Don’t push your family aside and remember it will only be temporary changes until you go full time.

Step 2 – Do not Quit your Job

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Do not, I repeat DO NOT quit your job. You have to support your family and pay the bills, how are you going to be endorse them without money? You are just getting started with your freelancing career, do you even have a client yet? Have you received your first pay check as a freelancer? I guess not.

So quitting your job will be a real stupid move to say the least, you are going to have to build your freelance business in your spare time. Do you remember what I said in Step 1, “Organize your life.” This is where that part comes into play, you are going to be running two jobs now and you have to work out how you will be managing that.

Now you might be wondering how you will know when the right time comes to quit your job. That answer is really simple, once you start earning enough money off your freelancing to support your family and pay your bills.

Step 2 – Conclusion: Don’t QUIT your JOB. Keep building your business in your spare time, be committed.

Step 3 – Get Advice

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You might think this is a strange name for a step towards becoming a freelancer, well it definitely isn’t. Have you thought about your job move from being employed to freelancing logically? You haven’t because you are way to excited to get started than anything else. There are some important factors you are going to have to measure up and get advice on before making any moves.

Firstly, have you actually thought of how hard it is to be successful at freelancing? You don’t have job security anymore, you can’t just take out loans from the bank, because how can they be sure you will make any money next month? How will your medical aid work, your taxes. These are just a few things you have to get some advice on, preferably from someone that is working with these things everyday.

There are tons of information on the internet for you to research and remember Google is your friend, but there are just some things that you are going to have to sort out in person. Make sure you are covered and your family is too, when you finally make the transition.

Step 3 – Conclusion: Make sure you and your family are fully covered before making the full switch.

Step 4 – Physically getting started with Freelancing

Alright now that we have those simple points behind us we are going to be starting with the physical side of things. The things that you have been looking forward to this entire time.

Firstly you are going to have some work to show your potential clients before they will hire you. You won’t hire a beggar to build garden sheds unless you have proof that he is actually capable of building would you? The same principle goes for designing or writing or anything as a matter of fact. You are going to have to build and setup a portfolio to promote your work.

Luckily for you there are quite a few exceptional portfolio platforms out there to make use of whilst you get on your feet as a freelancer. All of them have Job Forums as well, so whilst building your portfolio you could apply for different freelance jobs on the forums and build your portfolio whilst making money too.

Behance Network | Deviantart | Krop | Carbonmade | Coroflot

Remember you want to attract clients, not scare them off. When creating your portfolio, make sure you showcase your best work. Yes, you can showcase all of your work if they are really great, but I would recommend only showing your best. It doesn’t only attract the big guys, it could earn you features in showcases, magazines, exhibitions.

Step 4 – Conclusion: Setup a portfolio for yourself, displaying your best work. Make use of a portfolio platform whilst building your actual portfolio to earn extra income as well.

Step 5 – Establish a Brand Name

Image by Philipp Klinger
Now that you are busy building up your portfolio with some work you have to make a big decision. Are you going to brand yourself using your own name or are you going to brand yourself under a different name? That is your decision to make and I can’t decide that for you.

I have some suggestions though, lets take a name like “Christiaan van Vuuren” Firstly I don’t think most clients would be able to pronounce that so branding yourself with that name would be pointless. Before you job on my back let me tell you why. If you were to brand yourself as Christiaan van Vuuren, wouldn’t that be quite a long domain name? “” yes it would, its kind of intimidating when you look at it. Now put that into perspective with something much simpler ex. Cvv Designs. I’m not saying that is optimal, but that is much shorter than wouldn’t you say?

There are quite a few guys out their that use their own name for branding and have made a success out of it, something that does help though is if you have a short name. Remember you want to get noticed as a designer or writer and therefore you want to take part in the industry. Believe me it isn’t that easy to find a name that you would like to work under, but putting the effort into finding one is more than worth it.

Step 5 – Conclusion: Find yourself a name to work under as a freelancer, either being your own or a unique brand name, keep it simple and fresh. Remember less is more.

This was Part 1 of the series, Part 2 is coming soon.

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Jacques is an Entrepreneur and Founder of the An1ken Group. He recently launched a daily vlog on Youtube — JacquesvhTV. He started Creativeoverflow in 2009 as a hub for creatives. Connect with him: - @Jacquesvh - Facebook - Instagram - Pinterest