These 6 steps will help you achieve your freelance goals while maximizing your valuable time. I have always owned a freelance business on top of my full-time job, but it hasn’t always been profitable or even fun. Most of the time the reason I wasn’t making money was because of getting off to a bad start.
It’s tough. We always hear, “do what you love.” But it isn’t always that easy because, well, you can’t pay bills with love.
Here are some steps that have helped me get off to a strong, intentional start:
It’s easy to get excited about launching your freelance business but then not know what to do or where to start. I recommend that before you design your logo, build your website, or even tell anyone that you’re launching a startup, create a business plan.
It doesn’t have to be a formal business proposal with all the details but it should be a basic roadmap and checklist of how you plan on launching. This will help avoid any costly oversights and save you money and, most of all, time.
Something that has helped me when it comes to planning, is a free project management tool called Asana. It’s a little meaty and allows for as many projects, tasks, and subtasks as you my need. They offer many video tutorials that can help get you started. You can find other resources to help launch your business here.
You must balance where you spend your time or you’ll burnout soon after deciding to take the plunge into self-employment. You don’t have to spend 24-7 on your business and drop everything else you’re doing. It’s more about being intentional on what you’re doing than putting in a certain number of hours. You have 168 hours in a week. If you spend 40 hours working your day job and 56 hours sleeping, you still have 72 hours to grow you business and take care of your other responsibilities.
Leave room for the things you enjoy to avoid getting overwhelmed or burnt-out. Make sure you balance your job, freelance, family, and fun time.
If you’re like me, you have a thousand thoughts throughout the day and only remember a fraction of them. Don’t do this! You never know which idea will take your business to the next level.
Something that has helped me keep track of my thoughts is carrying a small pocket notebook around with me for when the next idea strikes. I tried using my phone but I found, that for myself, I was more likely to write it down on paper than get my phone out, open an app, and type it out.
I also found that I have a lot of my best ideas while thinking about my day and business while showing in the morning. The solution…a waterproof notebook! Make sure to review your notes at the end of the week and evaluate which are worth spending time exploring further.
Do your research
Make sure you do your research before deciding your businesses name, the audience that you’re going to target, and your marketing strategy.
Believe me, it’s worth spending the proper amount of time researching before you dive into creating your website, marketing materials, etc. There’s nothing worse than doing a lot of work only to realize down the road that you have to redo something because of the lack of research.
Something to keep in mind when researching, is studying the competition. You can save a lot of valuable time by studying and learning from what other successful businesses have done. Don’t get discouraged if you find a lot of competition because there is enough design, web, and photography business to go around.
Set realistic expectations
Can I be honest with you? Most freelancers don’t make enough to quit their day job right away. If fact, most don’t ever make the jump from hobby to moneymaking business. But if you follow these steps, manage your time well, and be intentional about your actions, you will set yourself apart from the statistics.
You must set goals, realistic goals, to succeed in any business. Create both long-term and short-term goals and be specific. It’s great to say that you want to be a full-time freelancer but what does that really mean for you? Write down how much income that would take, how many clients you need to achieve that amount, and create benchmarks to check your progress along the way.
You didn’t decide to venture out on your own to be stressed, worried, or feel overwhelmed. So don’t! You will never be successful if you’re not having fun and doing what you love (even though some clients might make you question why you love being a freelancer). Make sure you check yourself and attitude so that you don’t get too caught up in the grind that your no longer enjoy what you do.
Remember, there’s no magic solution to becoming an overnight success. It’s going to take hard work, time, and lots of “learning mistakes” along the way but it’s totally worth it! You must believe in you, I believe in you! Best of luck!