Becoming a freelancer is one of the greatest opportunities to take control of your career while doing something you love. Taking this bold step is much like becoming an entrepreneur. You are your own business and you’re responsible for finding clients and building your business growth.
For many of us who are already into our forties, the idea of starting over can be quite daunting. Especially if you’ve been working for a company for several years. We are living in a time when stability is no longer the reality. Gone are the days when you could count on working somewhere for 20, 30 or 40 years then retire with some type of pension to support you through your retirement years.
Today, so many people are losing their jobs as companies downsize. When that happens, it can be quite overwhelming. If you’ve been at your job a long time and now it’s suddenly gone, you may have no idea where to start. Then there’s the other end, you just might be finding yourself feeling unhappy at your current position and need a change, but because you’ve been going to your job for so long, you’re afraid to leave. Fear of the unknown is so daunting.
One of the best things you can do is use your skills and experience to start a freelance business. There are so many people who have used their expertise to consult for companies, build brands and as a result have a successful career. Freelancing is a growing sector that has also allowed companies to bring experts from outside of their staff to consult and develop ideas with a fresh take from someone who sees things with a neutral eye. When you do a great job for a company, the referrals will come as a result. I recently met a woman from Sweden who does consulting for NGOs going into West African countries. She is able to provide suggestions and plans based on her knowledge of the terrain. She spoke of how valuable it was to build strong relationships with people and to always be prepared and continually learning about the industry you’re in.
If you’re considering jumping into the world of freelancing, here are 5 basic tips on getting started to building a freelance career.
1. Build a Website
After you decide to name your Freelance business, or if you’re using your own name, it’s a great idea to create a website. This becomes your official online landing page for potential clients to read about you and the services you offer. It also gives you a level of professionalism.
2. Reach Out to Your Network
Over the years in your career, you’ve built relationships with people who are more valuable than you realize. Contact people who could be potential clients or could refer you to others who may need your services.
This is one of the hardest things for some people to do because you don’t want to seem desperate or like you’re only contacting them to get something. It’s important that you sell your services in a way that shows them how it will benefit their needs. It’s not about ‘selling’ but providing a real service that not only helps you, but also makes their business grow as a result of what you can do for them.
3. Build Your Brand
Using social media tools is key in building your personal brand. Once you’ve built your website, it’s important that you use sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to create your brand and engage with potential clients.
In building your brand, content is king. Creating content that shows you’re an expert in your field will serve a greater purpose. I have had potential clients contact me all the time based on some of the work I have published in the past.
As you post things online, through social media, blogs and video, it shows the world that you’re serious and also gives them a better understanding of who you are and what you do.
I caution you to not be discouraged in the beginning when you may only have a few likes. The focus is in building a catalogue of content that can be referenced at any given time. The number of ‘likes’ on the page today, doesn’t matter because once you’ve built your freelance business, your portfolio will speak for itself, regardless of how many followers.