Eleazar Ruiz
Eleazar Ruiz. Graphic Designer Based in Seattle, WA.
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5 Essential Steps to Starting Your Freelance Business

 

When we hear about the life of a freelancer we often think of a person getting a tan by the pool, drinking piña coladas while they work. And it is TRUE, I have done that (except substitute a cigar for the piña colada). For that dreamy work life to happen, there is a certain process that needs to happen.

Additionally, people often make the process of building their freelance business very long and tedious. By writing this post I plan to simplify the process. Here are the five essentials to launching a successful freelance business.

1. Website

I believe your website is the most crucial part about your freelance business. It is where people find your work, contact info, and reasons that they should hire you. In order to get the most out of your website, I believe you should have: (1) a blog, (2) a portfolio, and (3) an "about me" page.

Blog

I have learned that a blog is the best way to drive traffic to your site. So I firmly believe that in order for you to be successful you need to provide helpful content.

 
 
Content isn’t king. Helpfulness is.
— Dale Partridge

Blogs are not only a great way to drive traffic but additionally, it creates credibility between you and potential clients. The best way to show your career expertise is to write content that helps other people do what you do.
Make sure before you launch you have at least a month worth of content that you'll publish weekly. Normally, when you launch a new site people flood through the gates in the first three days. But the hype will fade. So it is crucial for you to use that momentum and keep driving people to your site.

Portfolio

About 70% of the time, your work will probably be the reason why someone hires you. So curate your best work. And not only your best, but show the kind of work that you desire to do. For instance, if you don't like making websites, don't show websites in your portfolio. 

About

This is where our natural talent for bragging about ourselves comes in handy. Don't be shy! Show and tell why people should entrust you with their creative needs. This is where you tell people your years of experience and list selected clients and testimonials. Remember to show a little bit of your personality in your writing, and obviously provide people a way to reach you.

2. Pricing

How much are you going to charge? Well, how much do you want to make? And how does your dream number compare to what the market is willing to pay? All of these are key questions that need to be answered in determining your pay scale.

A cool app that might be able to give you a ballpark is GetProlance.

Are you going to charge by the hour or per project? I charge per project but I come up with the project cost by cranking out numbers based upon an hourly rate of $70/hour. For your reference, here is my formula: number of hours x 70= project cost.

Here is an example:
Client: "How much do you charge for a logo?"
Me: "Depending on how many solutions you would like to see, the project can cost anywhere from $1050-$1400." (The formula in this example was 15-20h x $70= $1050-$1400.)

An hourly-based formula allows me to keep myself from over-investing into a project (which I can often do) or, oftentimes, gives me permission to continue working on it.

3. Process

What are you going to do after people reach out to you? Are you going to email them? What are you going to say? What's the next step? Writing down a list of steps that you would like your potential clients to take is vital. One of the worst feelings your clients can experience is a disorganized, loose business.

A tight process will communicate your professionalism to the client, and allow your project to go faster and smoother.

I'm going to reveal my process in my next post. Subscribe here if you want to know more.

4. Contracts

Get it in writing. Always! Make sure you have a templatized contract that outlines important things (i.e. project overview, deadlines, copyright, pricing, etc.)
Protect yourself before you start. Don't wait until something awful sneaks up on you. It happens more often than you would think.

I use Quoteroller. It is digital contract system that not only allows my clients to sign contracts without printing and scanning but keeps it all archived.

5. Payment System

Receiving payments online is pretty standard market practice these days, so what are you going to use? I use Freshbooks. But other options are Paypal, Stripe, and Harvest.