The Complete Guide to Freelance Business Ideas
Every employee dreams of setting their own hours and building a business for themselves. But business ideas are hard to come by, that is, if you can find the capital to fund the project. What if you could use your existing skills, knowledge, and experience to go to work for yourself? A freelance business may be the ticket to becoming your own boss.
When most people think about earning a living, they either think about full-time employment or building a huge company as an entrepreneur. But there is a middle ground. A freelance business allows you to offer services, usually to multiple clients at once, for prices of your choosing. There are many advantages if you can implement your freelance business idea successfully.
The first significant advantage of a freelance business is its flexibility. Freelancers typically set their own hours and can work from anywhere. This flexibility allows you to work when you’re most productive and cultivate a great work-life balance. And since you decide what clients to take on, you can even run a successful freelance business on the side if you are already employed or have another business.
Secondly, a freelance business is easier on you compared to full-time employment. This is especially true once you hit your stride and get a steady stream of clients. You won’t have to deal with the struggle of traditional employment, including office politics, long commutes, disagreements with coworkers or managers, and parking. You can work from a home office for the most part with only the occasional site visit if the client wants it or the project requires it.
Additionally, there is the potential to turn your freelance business into a prized asset. You may be able to sell your successful business down the road. In the meantime, the company can be a great source of income and a vehicle for building a reputation. A freelance business is also scalable, allowing you to hire employees, take on more clients, and diversify to new services and sectors.
For example, if you are a good writer or editor, you can offer writing and editing services to clients in any industry. It is free for you to add or remove an offering on your website. You can expand by outsourcing some of the writing and editing to other freelancers or employees you hire and manage. And you can easily offer related services like an online course on blogging or consulting services for other aspiring freelancers without changing your business structure.
Lastly, a freelance business is a great way to earn exposure. You’ll be working with different clients, taking on diverse assignments, and visiting various work sites. This business also offers excellent networking opportunities with business owners and industry leaders. As a bonus, you have the freedom to choose who you work with and take on projects that you are passionate about or are meaningful to you.
Quick Tips To Improve Your Chances of Starting a Successful Freelance Business Today
A freelance business offers the freedom that many traditional 9-5 employees crave. But this freedom also comes with specific responsibilities. For one, you will need strong time management and organization skills to deliver projects on time. In addition, making this transition can be difficult if you aren’t used to working independently with no oversight. As the freelancer, meeting deadlines and getting things right is your responsibility.
A project management tool like Trello can help you track your projects and manage your time effectively. Trello allows you to organize your projects and break them down into manageable tasks. Within each card, you can track progress, attach files and images, collaborate with team members or clients, and assign deadlines. You can do all this on a simple, easy-to-use, drag-and-drop, and visually appealing interface.
One of the best things about a freelance business is its low barriers to entry. You only need a marketable skill and a client to get started. Below are some quick tips to help you get started on your freelancing journey today.
1. Decide if Freelancing Is For You
On the surface, a freelance business sounds attractive. You get to set your own hours, decide your workload, choose who to work with, and work from anywhere with WiFi. But there are no guarantees in this business. It will take some time to build a client base, especially in the beginning. Work can also be irregular, and there is always the risk of not getting paid.
In short, a freelance business requires a special kind of motivation and dedication. You need to be all in if you have any chance of being successful and earning a good living. You’ll also need certain soft skills to be a successful freelancer, including:
2. Explore Your Options
The good news is that there are nearly infinite in-demand skills for a competent freelancer. If you have a hard skill, chances are someone is willing to pay you for it. Consider the industries you have previously worked in, your hobbies, the skills you put in your resume, and the topics you like to learn about in your free time.
You can start with a broad service offering and narrow down your niche as you gain experience. This strategy will allow you to gain real-world experience on what you can do well, what you enjoy doing, what’s in demand, and where you can make the most money.
Don’t let this list limit you. There are numerous opportunities to carve a niche for yourself based on your skills, interests, and expertise. Just be sure to do some research to guarantee that there is a market for your services.
3. Define What You Want To Get From Your Business
Earning a good living is a great goal. But it is not enough to see you through the ebbs and flows of your business. First, analyze your reasons for getting into the freelance industry. It might be to be your own boss, the flexible schedule, or the opportunity to pursue your passion. Your strong reasons may be the motivation you need to persevere when the going gets tough.
Finally, set measurable goals for your business. Your goals will help you charter your path and guide your business decisions. Set SMART short-term and long-term goals. Examples of short-term goals include setting up your website and getting a set number of clients in the first three months.
Your long-term goals may include hitting your annual revenue target within the first three years of business. Be sure to set realistic goals. You can consult with established freelancers in your industry to gain perspective on your goals.
4. Identify Your Target Clients
Naturally, you’ll need to decide who to sell your services to. Having an ideal client base in mind will help you in all aspects of your business, including marketing, pricing, and service delivery. A buyer persona is a handy tool for this step.
A buyer persona is a fictional depiction of your ideal client. The persona should include things like age, location, background information, education, interests, job title, demographic data, language, challenges, spending power, and patterns.
A detailed buyer persona will help you to understand your business from the customer’s perspective. Additionally, a buyer persona is instrumental in creating targeted social ads when marketing your business.
Creating a buyer persona is part of overall market research. In addition to a target client, you also want to research your competitors to see their pricing, business model, and how you can set yourself apart from them to sell your services.
5. Take Advantage of Project Management Software
As a freelancer, you’ll likely be taking on multiple projects at a time. So, you’ll need to find a way to juggle multiple clients and commitments. Project management software like Trello makes it easier to keep a handle on your projects and clients.
Why do you want to start a freelance business?
At the very core of your being, the reason you get up in the morning, the thing that gives you purpose is your “why". Everyone has a why. You may already know exactly what your "why" is, or maybe you’re not sure and need some help digging it out. Even if you don’t know what it is, it is there.
As an employee, I spent more time with my boss than my wife, I had little independence from my employer and I was even chastised for going on a 2-week vacation. I couldn’t expect my salary to grow very much throughout my career because I wasn’t paid for my output or the value I contributed to the market.
Family – The reasons why I decided to start my own home-based freelance business is because I wanted my precious time on earth to be spent around my family — my wife, and my children — not in rush hour traffic, with my boss, or even co-workers. I also believe that, as a father, it is my responsibility to be a provider, to be a role model for my children, and to set a real-world example for others that independence and self-sufficiency is an incredibly rewarding and empowering path.
Freedom – For me, growing somebody else’s business and helping them attain their vision by giving them 70 – 80% of my most valuable asset—my time—seemed like I was on the losing end of a bad deal. I’d like to avoid using the cliché that "I live life on my own terms" because, the reality is, life is unpredictable and nobody truly has control, but as for the things of which we do have control — where we spend our time, to whom we provide our services, how we provide for our families — it’s important that those happen on our terms! Starting my own business has empowered me with the freedom to spend my time where it matters, work with the people I am passionate to serve, and even take a vacation when it works best for my family (not when my boss approves).
Finances – I have no ceiling on how much money I can earn as a freelancer. I’m rewarded for my output and the value I add to the marketplace. If I need to pay for a big expense, save for our children’s education, create financial independence. I have the freedom to make that happen (so long as I work for it)!
What is an online freelancing business?
In a nutshell, an online freelancing business is a service-based business where the freelancer offers a certain skill that can be accomplished remotely like SEO, graphic design, video editing, content creation, etc. However, the freelancer will not be tied to an employment contract with a client. Also, the freelancer can contract other freelancers to fulfill their deliverables. The freelancer can take as many projects as he or she can and outsource as many as he wants and take a commission off it.
Unlike an online business where you sell products to make money, in freelancing what you’ll offer is your expertise. This process can be quite tricky for those who are new to the remote work scene. And for freelancers who have been in the remote work scene for quite some time, it doesn’t get easier to go down this path because there will be some things that you need to unlearn to learn.
1. Choose a specific market
First of all, you need to boost your opportunities. You can start by narrowing down on a specific set of people or businesses to focus on providing your services. This will trim down the competition, boost your opportunities, and help you become more visible to the people that you want to work with.
How do you do this? It’s quite simple actually – choose the specific clients who you think will need your business. Women entrepreneurs? Or better yet, women entrepreneurs in the health and fitness industry? You don’t have to be right. You just have to choose.
You can narrow down your target market enough for you to easily find a niche or space you can claim as your expertise. You only need to keep these two points in mind when choosing a market, make sure they fit these criteria.
2. Choose a skill
Assuming you’re an aspiring freelancer who doesn’t have any freelancing experience yet, the next step is to choose a skill that you want to offer. Seasoned freelancers should already have this figured out, but even they sometimes have to reassess their skills and choose one that they’ll put forward. The thing with this is, you must have at least one focus skill that you can call your expertise.
While you don’t have to limit your services to just one skill, focusing on a single one can make it easier to optimize your profile (will be discussed later). Having a more optimized profile means packaging yourself and your expertise better in your social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and other freelancing platforms.
Many of these skills can be learned online if you’re looking to get into the freelancing business, it’s a must that you are at least familiar with common computer software. Although learning by doing is possible, it can be a bit tricky to convince a client to get your services if you don’t exactly know the ropes of the trade.
3. Optimize your profile
Optimizing your profile on Linkedin or Facebook will make selling your services easier and simpler – clients will find you instead of you looking for them. While clients don’t find you all the time this way, it increases your social media visibility when clients search for a certain need not just in Social Media platforms such as the two mentioned above but also in freelancing sites like Upwork or Fiverr.
For freelancing sites like Upwork, Onlinejobs.ph, and other similar sites, this could be as easy as changing your title. For example, you can change “ Web Designer ” to “ Lead Generating Web Design for Realtors .” Specify how you can solve the problem and who your target market is.
For freelancers who will be engaging with clients through social media (Facebook and LinkedIn), the above optimization still applies. You can add it to your intro or somewhere in your profile summary as long as it’s immediately visible upon opening your page.
Once your profile is set up in either Freelancing sites or Social Media, it’s time to reach out to potential clients. It can be an uncomfortable task to do, especially if you’re going to do the outreach in social media, but you need to take the first step to start somewhere.
You can also do a local outreach in your area, start with friends or local businesses who might need your services. Or advertise in your account organically while connecting with people who are within your target market. It’s going to take a lot of effort to build a client base, but it’s one that gets easier the more you do it.
The easiest way to reach potential clients is through online job portals or freelancing sites like Upwork, Onlinejobs.ph, and Fiverr. The downside to this is that it’s more challenging to find clients belonging to your target market; it’s difficult but not impossible.
Cost of starting an online freelance business
Realistically speaking, you only need to invest in a computer or a laptop to get started. For freelancers who wish to offer computer process heavy services like graphics and video editing, you might need a more powerful rig, which might cost a bit more money. But if you already have this part covered, you technically don’t have to spend on anything. On the other hand, if you don’t have any skills which you think you can leverage from, you can always turn to the internet to learn one, and for the most part, you can do it for free. You can also choose to go down the mentorship route, but that one will cost you some money.
Oftentimes, people especially newbies mistake remote jobs for a freelancing business. While they do have some similar denominators such as being able to work anywhere you please and carrying out projects through the internet, a remote job does not necessarily offer flexible working hours and it will also limit your capability to earn more.
In remote jobs, you’re an employee and your client is your employer; In freelancing, you are a service provider, a consultant, or an expert (if you wish) that is an equal of your clients. You won’t necessarily have employees in your freelancing business, but you’ll be collaborating with or contracting other freelancers to get some projects done now and then because you’re not just limited to a single client as a source of income or revenue.
Freelancing business is just like every other business, it will require a lot of patience, work, and a good amount of willpower to keep it going. The unique thing about this endeavor is that your skill is your capital. You can start from scratch with only a basic computer and internet connection and still make tons of money if you possess or acquire the right skill for your market. This can be a very challenging feat at first for both seasoned freelancers and newbies but the reward is priceless. You know what they say, “nothing worth having comes easy.”
If you want to start learning the ropes of the trade, you can join Facebook groups such as the Freelance Movement Workshop to interact and learn from experienced freelancers who are already making waves in the freelancing industry. After all, the best way to learn new things is to learn from people who are already doing it.