Are you about to quit your job? Here’s how to become independent
You are so above your job, your manager, the work from home, the clients you serve and try to be everything to everyone, solving other people’s problems except your own.
You are exhausted. You have written your resignation letter. You are ready to quit and want to become independent.
Here’s how to organize yourself to make the transition to freelancing as smooth as possible.
Be clear about your role
If you’re a freelance writer specializing in baseball reporting, you can become a true expert in your craft, which is invaluable when targeting your ideal client. The more specific you can be about your offering and how your skills and services will help a client solve their problem(s), the more money you will earn and the more you will enjoy your work as a freelancer. Once you’re clear on what you do and what you don’t—that is, the baseball writer probably doesn’t handle fashion magazine interviews—find a way to talk about your offer in two or three sentences. This quick summary is your « pitch » when trying to get hired and grab a potential client’s attention.
Define your target audience and how you will reach them
Who do you want to work with? Why are they so awesome? You do not know where to start ? Think back to a time when you were working on something meaningful and exciting, and the result of the work exceeded everyone’s expectations. Who were the stakeholders involved and what made them great working partners? You’ll want more of these types of customers on your list and less of the annoying ones that just act as roadblocks.
Now make a list of those great clients (and people), where they work, and start networking! If you’re working with an agent — maybe you’re a high-end corporate photographer and need an agent to get your foot in the door — they can do the networking on your behalf. Once you’re in a meeting, don’t forget to ask them if they know of anyone else who could also use your services.
General emails to people you don’t know won’t work. Instead, take the time to really connect with your network. And make sure you have a well-designed website that you can direct leads to.
Form a strategy for your pricing
Make friends with other freelancers and consultants. Ask what they charge and how they landed on their prices. Crawl freelancer websites for comparable rates. You will win business if you charge well for the value provided. Fun fact – the lowest quote doesn’t mean you’ll get the deal. In fact, it can work against you and send the message to the potential customer that you are inexperienced. Do your research and maybe even test your prices for a few months to get some feedback.
Do the best job you’ve ever done (and showcase the best from the past)
The fastest way to win more business is to blow the doors off customer expectations. If they like working with you and like the results of your working together, your business will grow. You will also likely get referrals from other potential clients. Ask for client testimonials and always keep your work portfolio up to date; you may find it useful to publish both on your website. If you have amazing work on previous projects before going freelance, include that work in your portfolio as well.
Be ahead of the curve
The reason freelancers and consultants are hired is that they have something unique to offer (otherwise the work would be done in-house). My advice is to stay on top of your learning – new trends, technologies that can make your job even better, etc. Make sure the proposals you write showcase the uniqueness of your skills, so your contributions are seen as invaluable.
Organize your finances
If you’re serious about freelancing or consulting for your career, talk to your accountant about the right business structure (eg, sole proprietorship or corporation). Your bank will also need to be established. To keep your business and personal banking organized and separate, it’s quite common to have a basic business operating account where money is deposited and bills are paid, including your personal income. I also recommend a tax account where you set aside a portion of your income for future taxes, and a profit account where you set aside money just for yourself for the future. Keep your costs low to maximize your profits.
As the pool of freelancers grows faster than ever in history, finding a way to stand out from the crowd is essential. Focus on what will make you a go-to resource for the people you really want to work with.
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