Five Steps to Effectively Launch a Freelance Career

So, you’re thinking about making the leap?! It seems more and more professionals are eyeing freelancing as a way to explore their genius on their own terms - but most are afraid to make the jump. Why? Well, fear has something to do with it. Fear of the unknown, fear of financial security, fear of failure - all of these emotions and thoughts are common and justified. But, you should never let that fear stop you; instead, use it to craft a logical, effective, and smart plan as to how you can make freelancing work for you.

Like with most things in life, freelancing works when you have a plan. If you’ve carefully thought about your vision for launch and, ultimately, success, chances are you will work more effectively AND efficiently. Whenever someone asks to pick my brain about making the move into a freelancing career, I focus on five simple steps that I found myself relying on throughout my journey. I’d also love to hear what worked for you in the comments below - let’s chat!

Confront your fears, understand the risks, and create a PLAN.

Considering a freelance career can be scary as it doesn’t employ the comfort and “normalcy” of a 9-5 desk job. That certainly doesn’t mean you should avoid it, however. Before making the jump, sit and make a side-by-side list of your whys and your why nots. Don’t skimp out on the latter - every fear you have, big or small, write it out. Once this is complete, you’re ready to formalize a plan, starting with a timetable. What does your journey to freelance life look like? Start with month 1 and go from there, getting as detailed as you like. As you map out your path, you’ll notice much of your plan begins to combat the very fears you wrote out. Does it eliminate them completely? No - but having a detailed map will keep you focused and on task, with less of an inclination to drift back into your fears. Once you’ve finished, keep this list and timetable handy at all times. This becomes your roadmap for success, and your reminder of why you decided to take this professional journey in the first place. 

Take time to understand YOUR brand and what you bring to the table.

It’s often easy to forget that as a freelancer, you are responsible for selling YOURSELF. Clients will hire you for your talents and expertise, yes, but a huge percentage of why a client will bring you on is because they personally connect with you. Before pursuing business as a freelancer, it is critical to fully digest and understand your brand, what you can bring to the table, and how to best showcase the qualities that make you...YOU!

Success is in the details of how you present yourself.

Whichever industry or niche you choose to target, know that presenting yourself in the best light is the key to success. Everything from your own social media, to your website, to your business cards - potential clients will remember a freelancer who is confident and detail-oriented. In 2017, creating a website is a breeze (we love Squarespace) and companies like Moo have made the business card game more authentic and artistic. Marketing yourself will keep your business moving and grooving - but it’s something many freelancers forget to consider.

Grow your business - but know when to say NO.

Referrals and networking will become your best friend as you work to grow your business. What can become your #1 enemy? The word “yes”. You’ll find many potential clients you meet with have their own values, needs, and budgets - and often times, these will not align with your own. The beauty of freelancing is you have a hand in creating your professional world - and who you work with on a day-to-day basis. Understanding the power of “no” when the time is right is critical to the ultimate success of your brand, even if you don’t foresee that success in the moment.

Don’t forget to shut down.

Creating your own work schedule and hours - that’s the dream, isn’t it?! Well, it has a downside too...and that is not being able to shut it off. As a successful freelancer, you’ll spend your days sorting through and completing a wide variety of tasks - and you’ll oftentimes find yourself working longer days than when you were on that corporate grind. Understanding when to shut down and unplug not only prevents burnout, but allows you to reset mentally and creatively. Set expected - but realistic - hours for yourself and stick to them. You will find greater success in following a regimented calendar than just working until you feel caught-up for the day.

We love chatting with new and successful freelancers! Want to share your story with us, or just share experiences? Reach out via the "Get Gauged!" tab at the top of the page. Cheers!