Becoming self-employed or wanting to be an entrepreneur is not easy. It can be extremely challenging to create your own routine and summon enough discipline to stick to it without a manager peeping over your shoulder.
If you have ever daydreamed about setting up, working from home, and choosing your clients, then you have surely thought about freelancing at some point. The freelance market has been steadily growing over the last five years and people who decide to take the plunge are reporting greater happiness than before. Still, it is a daunting career move that unnerves even the most confident. Before you take the leap of faith into the freelance world, there are some easy ways to test the waters and get the ball rolling.
Anything, not Everything
Productivity author David Allen’s most famous quote is, “you can do anything, but not everything.” This is the perfect place to start, as you ponder a freelance career. It is important to narrow your focus. This means that within the industry itself, and the skills you are offering. Think of it this way, have you ever gotten a great multi-tool device that does all things well? Me neither. Narrow your skill set to your most marketable and well-developed skill. Start there.
This seems obvious, and an obvious obstacle, but it need not be insurmountable. There are two ways to go about gaining the all-important experience. You could work in the industry that you hope to freelance in. This allows you to build a reputation within your field, develop connections that you can maintain post 9-5, and most importantly, develop and polish a unique skill. If you can’t break into the industry the traditional way, or don’t want too, you can also get experience and build your portfolio by doing some work in exchange for testimonials or foundations for your resume. Notice, I did not say free. To simply offer up your time and skills for free will not advance you in the direction needed. However, if you get some value, even extremely long-term, unpaid value, out of your interaction than it may be worth doing to gain experience.
Get Over Yourself
Often the biggest obstacle towards achieving what we desire is our self. We create nightmare scenarios and allow self-doubt to flood our minds. But ask yourself, what is really the worst that can happen? You are not going to starve to death on the cold pavement outside your home. Maybe it is a failure, but in the long run, would you consider taking a chance on your own skills for once in your life a bad decision. Get over yourself and set some achievable goals today.
You Do Not Need It to Start
Stop saying it is too complicated and overanalyzing every step of the way. That is just allowing yourself not to begin because you are afraid of the results. You do not need a business name to get going. You do not need a business bank account. You do not need to have an L.L.C. established. You do not need expensive inventory tracking software. You do need to get started and make mistakes, then learn from them what you truly need
An ounce of action towards building your freelance business is worth more than the pounds of thought you have already put into it. The countless hours spent daydreaming at your desk of the independence that thousands of workers are experiencing right now can be yours. There is no one place to start, so start in one place and move on from there. Action, not thought is the priority here.
Luckily, being a freelancer opens up a world of possibilities. Not only can you manage your time the way you see fit, but you can find others that are trying the exact same thing. Working from home is ideal, but surrounding yourself with industry peers is even better. One of the greatest perks of freelancing is that it can be ‘free’ to start. Have a look at some of the best free online workspaces and tools available for freelancers:
Trello is an excellent project management tool for both freelance teams and individuals. It’s a free web application that allows you to create profiles for every freelancer and assign tasks to them. Think of it as a digital whiteboard where you can move around projects and make comments within each tasks.
This is ideal for freelance editors and project managers since they will be able to communicate with their teams via this platform. The Trello boards can be named according to project and in case of an editing team; ‘moved’ to the relevant boards such as ‘in progress’, ‘editing’ or ‘published’. This is the ideal way to see who’s been working on what and when the next deadline is coming up.
As a freelancer you are most probably your own accountant. Freelance writers might know how daunting it can be to do the accounts when mathematics is just a vague high school memory. Luckily Mint is here to save the day. As a financial management tool Mint will help freelancers keep track of their expenditures and income – and it’s easy to use as well.
This is just a handy tool for scheduling reminders to your phone. Sometimes managing your Google Calendar gets a bit overwhelming and you just need ‘quick’ reminders of smaller tasks. Being a freelancer means that you might have to manage the household, drop off the kids at the dentist and remember to submit your tax. Being reminded of the smaller tasks via Oh Don’t Forget will help you to increase your productivity and stay on top of things.
Managing your own business can have you think of way too many things at once. Evernote will help you give structure to all these free-flowing thoughts. Evernote is a multi-feature tool that allows you to create journal entries and sort your favourite articles. With the Evernote plug-in you will be able to save entire pages, or just sections to your account.
Bidsketch – Proposals
As you would know, freelancers are responsible for marketing themselves as their product. You are your brand and in order to win some clients you have to send our proposals. Bidsketch is the ideal tool to help you create and manage your proposals. You don’t need to be a graphic designer or copywriter – this platform will guide you through the process of creating killer marketing content.
Join.Me – Customer Relations
Freelancers know what it’s like to wake-up in the middle of the night to Skype with a client on the other side of the world. Telecommuting can be a challenge if you don’t have the right tools. Join.Me will help you simplify your online communication by allowing you to share your screen so that they can view your progress.
The Renegade Writer
If you are a freelance writer, you need to include Linda Formichelli’s blog on your RSS feed straight away. This platform is a great resource for freelance professionals, sharing informative content, relevant guides and freelance advice in general
Treehouse Blog – Design and Development
As freelancers we have to take time out of our practice to continue our independent studies. Freelancers don’t only compete with local job seekers, but against applicants all over the internet. That’s why we have to stay on top of our games through personal growth and studies. This is where the Treehouse Blog comes in – it’s the ideal resource and online workspace for designers and developers and even lists some invaluable tutorials.