The freedom and flexibility of freelancing can be very attractive.
Certain fields work particularly well as a freelance business. Some examples include graphic design, web design, writing, photography, and technology. The required investment and barrier to entry for freelancing is typically quite low, which is another benefit for an aspiring entrepreneur.
One of the biggest challenges is finding a steady stream of projects that enable you to build your business. Freelancers often bounce between being swamped to having no projects in the pipeline. Thus, it’s important to have strong business development skills as well as effective time management skills. As a freelancer, you’ll need to build your personal brand and market yourself to land new projects. Developing your sales pitch, networking, and leveraging your key contacts are essential for a freelancer. Embrace business development as an ongoing part of your independent enterprise. Those with a real passion for landing their next project are invariably the most successful.
Obviously, one of the best sources of new business is current clients. Understand your client’s needs and commit to exceeding their expectations. If you do great work, clients will come back and will also refer others to you. Continue cultivating client relationships even if you already have a substantial backlog of work. This helps keep your project pipeline primed. Consider periodic personal contact with clients as well as sending electronic communications with useful information.
Also remember to network with other freelancers and look for cross-referral opportunities. Explore websites that match freelancers with potential clients to cast a broader net for projects outside your local market. Some work on a bid system where clients post projects and freelancers bid on the work. Examples include freelance.com, elance.com, and guru.com. LinkedIn, other professional networking sites, and job boards are also potential sources for new projects. There may be a fee to access some of these resources, so it’s a good idea to assess whether the project value or contacts generated are worth the investment.
If you keep your technical skills current, are disciplined about time management, and actively pursue business development, you have a great opportunity to enjoy the freedom of being a successful freelancer.
For more information or assistance with starting or maximizing the success of your freelance or other small business, contact Traverse City SCORE. Call toll-free at 888-796-4913 or visit www.UpNorthScore.com to schedule a free and confidential appointment with a SCORE mentor.
Tanya Berg is a volunteer SCORE mentor and the owner of Smartmark Consulting, a Traverse City-based marketing consulting firm.