10 Secrets for Excelling as a Freelancer

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Breaking away from a job that requires you to report to a supervisor is the dream of a lifetime for many.

Whether you wish to sell goods to customers or do computer programming, the sky is the limit when it comes to the amount of money you can earn from the comfort of your own home.

Embarking on the journey of becoming a full-time freelance worker can be a rewarding career shift as long as you have a solid plan in place so that you can do what you love and make enough money to live and thrive in the process.

While planning out your personal business model, consider these ten secrets for excelling at a freelance career.

Important Note: I won’t be covering the legalities of starting your business; however, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have a Terms and Conditions for your business. I highly recommend The Contract Shop for attorney-approved Terms and Conditions. This is one of the BEST ways to protect your business!

1. Know Your Costs

There are costs associated with running any type of business, and you need to know what they are so you can charge for your services appropriately and turn a profit.

Have you ever sold an item online, earned a sizeable profit, and then realized you grossly undercharged the customer for shipping the item?

Maybe you took on another client for social media management without realizing the addition of those accounts to your social management software would bump you into another pricing bracket – a much more expensive pricing bracket.

Mistakes like these are costly and can end up sinking your business if you do not learn how to set your prices right.

When planning out your business, think of costs like office and shipping supplies, shipping fees, internet services, applicable taxes, subscription fees, and more.  These costs should be built into the price you charge for your products or services.

2. Consistent Work Schedule

Even though you are in business for yourself, it is important that you create a work schedule that you can stick to.

Creating a designated work schedule will help you manage your time and ensures that you are able to balance your work and your life.

First, figure out if you are more of a morning person or do better work while burning the midnight oil.

Depending on the type of business you are doing, you may need to communicate with customers and work with vendors, so it is important that your schedule reflects these needs.

Create an online calendar so that you can schedule your working hours and fill in your personal time with soccer games, socialization time with friends, and family functions.

3. Create an Online Presence

The online world is most likely how potential clients will discover your business.

In order to get the word out that you are in business, create a website, blog, various social media accounts, and connect with online communities.

Be creative when establishing your online presence so that customers are attracted to your business and know you are the real deal. You should use specific color palettes and designs across all of your online accounts for consistency.

When creating your social media profiles, don’t forget to add links to your business website so customers can reach you.

Be sure to join online forums and communities that relate to your work or freelance career so you can take advantage of valuable networking opportunities. You are bound to find other freelancers who can provide you with valuable information and tips.

Related Article: Guide to Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Niche

4. Designated Work Space

Organization is the key to success for your business, and it is important that you carve out a designated space to do your work. If you are selling physical products to customers, you will need a space for product storage, shipping, and office work.

If you sell computer programming services, write for customers, do data entry or other office-based career, you may be able to get away with setting up a desk wherever you have space in your home.

Whatever your business is, set up a space that works for you and is separate from your general living space.

5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Nobody likes to be ghosted, and your current or potential customers will take their business elsewhere if you are hard to get in touch with when a question or issue arises.

Whether you choose to correspond with clients by email, text, or phone calls, be sure to keep the lines of communication open and be prompt with your responses.

When a customer reaches out to you, make it a rule of thumb to get back to them within 24 hours, even if it is just to let them know you received their message and need additional time to assist them. Good communication means happy clients and more business for you.

6. The Legal Stuff

Even if you are a business with one employee, yourself, make sure to take the time to read up on taxes and all of the legal stuff applicable to your business.

When you start making sales, be sure to pay Uncle Sam his fair share first so you can avoid potential tax penalties in the future. You can find out what taxes you owe by visiting your local government website and the IRS website.

If you are unsure about the laws surrounding your business, take some time to meet with an attorney to go over all of the details.

7. Business Benchmarks

You will have no idea where you are going unless you know where you have been and where you want to go in the future. Before starting your business, sit down and create goals with milestones. 

Your goals should be challenging, yet attainable, and you should be able to track your progress toward hitting your goals. When planning out goals, be sure to factor in milestones.

Milestones are small achievements you make toward your goals and should be celebrated to keep the momentum going.

Plan out the growth of your business for the short term and long term, and don’t get overly frustrated if you stumble upon roadblocks along the way.

8. What Do the People Want?

In order to be successful and make money with your business, be sure to do a lot of research, so you know what your customers want. If you are selling products and services, check out community forums or even start a focus group so you can get informational feedback. 

Websites like Amazon Mechanical Turk allow you to create surveys that can be taken by people all over the world; this service costs money but will provide you with valuable data.

Look for businesses who are selling similar products and services and figure out how you can make your offerings better than the competition.

9. Separation of Business and Pleasure

Even if you work out of your home, make sure to keep your work and personal life separate. Create a business bank account for your earnings and expenses that is separate from your personal bank accounts.

From your business bank account, you can transfer your profits to personal bank accounts and will never have to worry about making accounting errors. You should also set up a business email account and phone line.

10. Create Your Brand and Have Fun

Building a business from the ground up should be a fun and rewarding experience, and creating your brand is like the icing on the cake. Your businesses brand should reflect your personality and be fun for customers and clients to interact with.

A brand is all about logos, catchy phrases, and making sure a customer can’t live without your product. You can use computer programs to create your brand or work with a graphic designer to make your visions a reality.

Keep it clean and simple, and incorporate it into all of your correspondences. 

Becoming a full-time freelancer is a challenging endeavor that can be very rewarding in the long run. Not only do you get to be your own boss, but you also get to see the results of your success firsthand when your business starts to take off.

By using these secrets, you can excel at building your own career and doing what it is you truly love.

About the Author:
Angie Nelson has been a virtual assistant and blogger since 2007 when she took her future into her own hands and found a way to escape the corporate cubicle farm. Today she shares her passion for all things making money from home on her blog The Work at Home Wife. Visit her site for a free 7-day series on finding work from home.