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Freelancing continues to be a popular option for many American workers (especially those who specialize in marketing). Freelancing has become a mainstream option: it’s estimated that there are 56.7 million freelancers in the U.S. and between 2014 and 2018, 3.7 million more people started freelancing.

The top reason people freelance is “quality of life” or the freedom to choose their hours, their workplace environment, and their projects. Technology has made freelancing easier than ever when it comes to both finding and completing work.

While freelancing offers a lot of freedom, you need to do some planning and preparation to get a solid start. We’ve got four main facets of freelancing that the new freelancer should think about: Personal Priorities, Logistics, Marketing Yourself, and Managing Your Clients.

Personal Priorities – while “quality of life” is the top motivating factor for freelancers, every freelancer is different. Your personal priorities will shape your freelancing effort, so be sure to think through:

  • What type of schedule do you want to maintain? How many hours you want to dedicate to your freelance career? This will help you create a schedule that you should try to follow
  • What are your goals? Freedom and flexibility? Do you have specific financial goals? Write your goals down and work backwards to set goals around the number of clients and projects you will need. How many projects do you need to have in motion to achieve your goals?
  • Do you need health insurance and if so, how will you get it?
  • How will you manage your finances and your taxes? You’ll want to think about how to set yourself up from an accounting and tax standpoint. Many freelancers create an “LLC” and they work with an account to ensure their books are in order and taxes are paid appropriately. Getting the right structure in place from the start will prevent headaches in the future

Your Logistics – Setting yourself up as a freelancer is not unlike setting up a new business. You need to plan out several important logistics, including the value/pricing of your work, client agreements, and how you’ll get paid for your services.

  • Figure out the pricing for your services. Will you charge on an hourly basis, or a per project basis?
  • Create and work off of a basic contract so you have everything in writing with each of your clients. You’ll want everything to be clear regarding client confidentiality, payment terms, project deliverables, and more. A quick Google search on “freelance contract templates” will give you a variety of resources you can use.
  • Establish a process for tracking your projects or the hours you’re spending on each client
  • Make sure you have a process in place for invoicing your customers
  • Consider a time management or project management solution to help you keep multiple projects and milestones in order

Marketing Yourself – Now that you know what you want to do and how you’ll do it, you need to get some customers.

  • Develop a basic website that can tell your story, describe your value, and showcase a portfolio of your work
  • Create promotional materials as well as business cards
  • Get the word out! You can use Linkedin and there’s also a myriad of freelance sites where you can find work
  • Don’t be afraid to say no – create an ideal client or project profile, and stick to it

Managing Your Clients – Once you’ve begun to attract clients, think about how you can build long term relationships that will create a steady stream of revenue. This is not just about producing high quality work (although that is paramount!); it’s also about building relationships.  

  • Set realistic expectations. Don’t promise the moon just to win business. Be practical about what you can provide and deadlines/timelines
  • Build relationships. Take the time to truly listen to each client’s needs. Be responsive and consultative. Provide expertise and help to solve your client’s problems
  • Gather testimonials. Don’t be shy about asking a happy client for a testimonial about your work. Testimonials can be used on your website and other promotional materials. Use testimonials on the “recommendations” section of LinkedIn. A strong testimonial is priceless!
  • Ask for referrals. Similarly, if you’ve got a strong track record with a client and you’re looking to expand your client portfolio, don’t hesitate to ask for referrals.

Consider Partnering With a Staffing Agency

A great alternative to freelancing on your own is to partner with a staffing agency for projects. This is a great option for the new freelancer, or for freelancers who don’t want to worry as much about marketing themselves or about some of the operational aspects of freelancing (like invoicing and collecting money). Partnering with a staffing agency means you get paid on time, you have access to employee benefits, and you don’t need to worry about selling your services. Make sure you’re partnering with a strong staffing agency and this option can help you strengthen your freelancing career for years to come.

WUNDERLAND GROUP is a full-service staffing agency dedicated to client and talent success in the creative, digital, and marketing fields. Our experienced team is here and ready to start creating opportunities and connecting creative minds.

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