The freelance economy is booming. The data shows that there are 53 million freelancers in the United States today. By 2020, it is predicted that 50% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers in some capacity.
What I like best about freelancing is it’s easy and inexpensive to get into, which makes it perfect for building a freelancing business as a side hustle while you’re still in school or working a full-time job.
Given that you will likely be freelancing in one way or another in your career, you should start building your personal brand now with a professional-looking website and a digital portfolio that sets you apart in a crowded market of talent.
If you’re ready to develop your personal brand and launch your own freelancing business, let’s grab the bull by the horns and make it happen.
How To Launch Your Own Freelancing Business:
The foundation of long-term success as a freelancer is building a distinctive personal brand. This means a clear and concise story of who you are, what you can offer in terms of expertise and what makes you different.
Your personal brand story is best told through a professional-looking website and active social media profiles that show off your personality and interests. These days Google is the new background check and people will research you extensively before hiring you so you want your unique personality and creative touch to come across.
Here is a step-by-step process for starting your freelance business and building your personal brand online:
1. Choose the name of your business.
The first thing you’re going to need is a business name, even if it’s your own name. Then you’re going to need to write a clear and concise 150-word explanation of your business to explain what you do and who you do it for.
2. Start your own website using WordPress.
Next, you’re going to need a website that clearly tells the story of who you are, what you offer and why you are different. You can be up and running in under 2 hours with a website using an inexpensive WordPress host and a professional-looking theme framework. I detail how to do this in my personal branding guide.
3. Build your digital portfolio on your website.
3. Once you website is set up, you should start building a digital portfolio that includes case studies that demonstrate the results you’ve achieved for your clients. If you don’t have any clients, you might have to offer your services at a discount to get more experience. You should also look at getting a distinctive logo designed, which you can do for $5 on Fiverr or you can hire another freelancer to do it on Upwork.
4. Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for discovery.
4. It is very important that you have an active presence on LinkedIn and a keyword-optimized LinkedIn profile so people looking to hire freelancers can find you near the top of the search results page. Also, make sure you regularly get references from your clients on your LinkedIn Profile.
5. Build trust and credibility with your audience using social media.
5. Leverage social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to share your expertise and build trust and authority with your online audience. You can do this by creating and sharing valuable content that aligns with the freelance services you offer.
6. Get more experience using online freelancing websites.
6. If you don’t have a lot of experience and you want to build your expertise by working online you can join a freelancer marketplace like Upwork. For a full list of freelancing marketplaces online, read my guide to the best freelancing websites.
7. Get an online payment processor and a good financial management tool.
If you’re not going to use freelance marketplaces, you can take payments from your clients through Paypal, which is effective and easy to set up. They charge a 2.9% fee on the amount paid plus $0.30 on each transaction. To manage your finances, invoices and monthly cashflow a good tool I recommend using is QuickBooks.
8. Use a time tracking tool to manage your freelancing projects.
9. Use legally-binding digital contracts for all your personal freelancing clients.
10. Consider incorporating your new freelance business to save on taxes.
If you want to take advantage of the lower tax rates offered to small business owners and freelancing entrepreneurs, you should consider incorporating your new freelancing business. This costs around $300-$500 depending on your jurisdiction but the tax benefits and limited liability make it worth it.
If you follow these 10 steps, you’ll have your own freelancing business launched and ready to go so you can start making money and working from anywhere. It’s going to take some hustle to get your first few clients but if you build a business around your talents and skills, becoming a freelancer could be one of the best decisions you ever make.