How To Start a Freelance Business: 9 Critical Steps

Terkel
Jul 20

 • 

5 min read

How To Start a Freelance Business: 9 Critical Steps

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Table of Contents

What is one critical step to start a freelance business?

To help you start a freelance business, we asked freelancers and entrepreneurs this question for their best advice. From identifying your niche to building connections from day one, there are several things you need to do to get started with your freelance business.

Here are nine critical steps for starting a freelance business:

  • Identify Your Niche
  • Get Your Legal Affairs in Order
  • Choose The Right Business Model
  • Make Sure Your Brand is Solid
  • Define Your Target Clients
  • Don’t Go Full-Time Until Financially Solvent
  • Create a Strategic Website
  • Believe in What You Can Do
  • Start Building Connections from Day One

Identify Your Niche

Do you have a clear idea about the services you’re going to offer, or are you thinking of trying your hand at whatever comes your way? I’ve seen many people make the mistake of half-learning a wide range of skills and going into freelancing with high hopes. However, from my observation, the most successful freelancers have expertise in a certain area and focus on providing high-quality work only relevant to that.

Then, the deeper you dive into your chosen area of expertise, the higher the chances of success, as long as there is enough demand for the particular service. For instance, if you’re thinking of offering virtual assistance services, choosing a specific niche such as E-Commerce and mastering the relevant skills for an E-Commerce virtual assistant is better than taking general data entry jobs in the beginning and hoping for more worthwhile work experience in the future.

Anjela Mangrum, Mangrum Career Solutions

Get Your Legal Affairs in Order

When you are starting a business, one of the most important (and most overlooked) steps is to think about the legal issues you’ll need to address.  This includes thinking through how you’ll organize your business, setting up distinct bank accounts for finances, and getting your basic agreements in writing.

Every freelancer should also create a basic contract template they’ll use for their engagements so they’ll be confident knowing that they are legally covered if something goes wrong.

Bobby Klinck, BobbyKlinck.com

Choose The Right Business Model

When it comes to choosing a business model there are many options, and it’s important to consider not just the present but the future growth of your company. What might be a good choice for the earliest days of the business may not have had the longevity it needs to support growth in the near future.

You can always change your business structure, but doing that comes with legal fees, lots of paperwork, and time. Work with an attorney or business mentor who can advise you on what the best options are so you can make an informed decision.

Colin Toh, Headphonesty

Make Sure Your Brand is Solid

One critical step to starting a freelance business is to make sure your brand is solid.
You also need to have an easily accessible website or social media presence so that people can find you and know immediately what you’re all about. If you have an online presence, but it looks like it hasn’t been updated in years, nobody’s going to want to work with you!

Once you’ve got those things figured out, then it’s time to start marketing yourself and your services. The best way to do this is by networking with other freelancers who are in the same industry as you are, or who have skills that complement yours. You’ll be surprised at how many people will be willing to help if they know they’ll get something back from it! 

Ishu Singh, Starting to know

Define Your Target Clients

It’s time to consider who will pay you to use your skills once you’ve selected which ones will be the most profitable and pleasurable for you. Many freelancers fall short of being thoughtful and aspirational in this area. They begin freelancing and develop such a fear of selling that they will accept any client who offers them any amount of money in exchange for doing anything. Don’t make the same mistakes as those freelancers! Consider your ideal customers.

Consider the abilities you’ve chosen to use to launch a freelance business. Who requires such assistance? Who would you want to work with if they needed that kind of assistance? Small enterprises, nonprofits, and restaurants are all examples. Don’t give it too much thought. Begin with a stream-of-consciousness exercise: who do you want to collaborate with? Start writing on a blank sheet of paper or in a notepad.

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen, Formula Swiss

Don’t Go Full-Time Until Financially Solvent

One critical step to starting a freelance business is to wait until you are financially solvent before making the leap into full-time freelancing. Building a freelance career is a process and it might take several months to earn a consistent income. Until then, you might need to work two jobs as you build a reliable clientele and create a financial cushion for your business. Without that financial cushion in place, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. All that hard work is worth it in the end. Freelancing allows me to do what I love on my terms. 

Becca Stewart, PCSgrades

Create a Strategic Website

Once you’ve decided to start your freelance business you’ll likely be keen to book some clients, and one of the best long and short-term strategies for booking clients is creating a strategic website. In the long run, your website can do a lot of the marketing work for your business and attract ideal clients for you and convert them into warm leads.
But in the meantime, when you’re just starting out, your website is a critical tool for establishing your credibility, building trust with potential clients, and presenting your services in the best light to improve your chances of booking that client. And with a little strategy, you can design your website to appeal directly to those people who are most interested and ready to work with you, thereby saving yourself a lot of time and heartache talking to unqualified leads who will never go on to work with you.

Michelle Pontvert, Michelle Pontvert

Believe In What You Can Do

I answer with this single word because the ability for one to believe in their knowledge, skills, and value is the key to any business. We all have the willpower to make a decision to go into business for ourselves.

However, it is sheer resilience, belief, and the ability to press on when things get tricky when contracts don’t find us on the timeline we set out when we struggle because what we thought our market wanted from us wasn’t.  Belief is what empowers us and engages our higher selves to try another way, to stand firm in what we know, and to keep going beyond the veil of doubt, fear that we aren’t enough, and worry that we are going to fail.

Connie Davis, Kairos Digital Commerce Consulting

Start Building Connections From Day One

Join Slack groups, Facebook groups, and online communities where other freelancers and your target client might hang out. Ask questions and interact in the groups. Offer advice and genuinely help others. It’ll help kick off your freelance business and help you in the long run.

Araminta Robertson, Parpera


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