Freelancing is on the rise—and for good reason. This lifestyle offers flexible schedules, remote working, greater autonomy, and loads of opportunities to try new things and learn as you go. Plus, most freelancers make better money than they did at their previous jobs. So all in all, it’s a pretty great move. *high-five*
But… we know it can be intimidating to get started. You’re running a business, after all, and that comes with a whole new set of responsibilities, like sourcing clients, managing expenses, and filing your quarterly taxes (don’t forget). In order to help you breeze through the early stages, we put together this freelancer 101 guide, which walks you through the six basic steps to launching a successful freelance business.
Chapter 1: How to Build Your Network
Our first piece of wisdom: Don’t do everything yourself. Look to the people who can help you get where you want to go. Building a juicy network of peers can lead you to tons of professional opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have found. And since the best clients come from referrals, tapping into your network is a great place to start when you’re trying to find clients.
Chapter 2: How to Figure Out Your Pricing
Before you land a client or even schedule a call with a prospect, it’s important to know your numbers. What is your hourly rate? Do you charge a flat project fee? How about a retainer? And when and how do you collect payment? Answering all these questions before you talk to your clients is key if you want to make enough to cover your expenses and live comfortably.
Chapter 3: How to Land Your First Client
It’s the burning question for most new freelancers: How do you find and attract the right clients? The trick is to get very clear about what you’re selling first. Once you have a complete picture of your offering, it’s a whole lot easier to figure out who needs exactly that—and where you can find them. Hopefully you’ve already done a bit of this work while figuring out your pricing model. If not, now is the time.
Chapter 4: How to Create a Proposal
On to the nitty-gritty. Once you’ve landed a potential client, it’s time to close the deal. For freelancers, that means creating a badass proposal that outlines the project scope and continues to sell the client on your services. This step-by-step guide will help you nail the landing and get one step further to a signed contract.
Chapter 5: How to Create and Invoice a Client
You’re off to the races doing great work for your client. Now, you gotta get paid. Here we walk you through the essential elements of a good invoice and share a professional Google Docs invoice template that you can copy and use to make your life a whole lot easier.
Chapter 6: How to Track Business Expenses
Finally, we’re onto finances. Keeping track of what you’re spending your hard-earned money on is a huge, important part of successful freelancing. The better your books, the easier your life will be when it’s time to pay taxes or to chart your business’s performance. Get on it early—you’ll thank yourself later.