Work & Business

Top Tips For Starting An Online Freelance Business

How to set up a freelance online business

One of the big things to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic is a massive shake-up of the way we work. More than ever people are working from home, and more and more people are starting their own freelance business. So how can you get started with your new business venture and starting making a good income as a freelancer?

It takes a bit of effort to get started, but running your own business online is very rewarding in the long run. Set your own hours, choose your clients and (most likely) make more money than you would do in a standard day job.

Sounds good, right? So check out our tips for starting your own online business.

1. Focus on your niche

It can be very tempting to go all guns blazing and try and establish your freelance business as a bit of a Jack of all Trades. From personal experience I can tell you that this makes it hard to focus on the bigger piture as you’re trying to do too many things at once.

I recommend finding your niche service and focusing just on that to start with. For example, if you’re starting a digital marketing business, provide one service but do it as well as you can. If you provide PPC, SEO, content writing, web design and graphic design, this can get incredibly confusing and may even result in your providing a sub-par service in all fields.

Play to your strengths, start with something that you can do well, and aim to diversify and offer more options as your career progresses.

2. Certifications & training

Do you need training to start your own freelance business? Well, it depends. You don’t necessarily need a certificate that says you’re a master of what you do, but it might make a difference in the early stages. It does also depend massively on your industry.

For example, if you’re starting a freelance financial advice business, you might need some certifcations that say you’re qualified to provide financial advice. The same for other businesses such as wealth management, accounting or anything that involves dealing with other people’s money.

Some business plans may also require that you get some basic understanding to get started. Others, you may simply be able to offer by virtue of your own experience or equipment, such as video editing, sound engineering, content writing or any other creative art.

Put simply, you don’t always need training, but if your industry dictates then look into certifications.

3. Establish your online presence

You don’t always need a website to advertise your freelance business, but it can be useful. With a website you do have the benefit of online visibility and the opportunity to display your best work or whatever else you need.

However… I don’t think a personal website is the most important factor, especially to start with.

More important is:

  • A good Linkedin profile
  • Twitter/Facebook/Instagram pages
  • A simple blog site such as Medium, Blogger ot Tumblr

With an online presence, you can promote yourself, point people to your social profiles and network. Linkedin is especially important for starting a freelance business online – but it’s very useful to know how to use it properly.

Check out our Linkedin guide here.

4. Setting up your business

Even as a freelancer it can be a very good idea to set up an official company or register as a freelancer in your country. The options vary from country to country, but in the UK for eaxmple, it’s easy to set up as a sole trader without too much hassle.

Being official makes it easier for potential clients to trust you and your work, and if you decide to become a digital nomad then this can also be a huge benefit. So make official registration part of your strategy when setting up an online freelance business.

5. Money matters

There are few money matters to consider when setting up your online freelance business.

Firstly, what are your prices? It’s a good idea to have your rates outlined, but be prepared to adapt them as needed.

Then there is the issue of taking payment. You’d think that would be quite simple but it pays to be careful and manage your finances totally seperatley from your personal funds.

It’s a good idea to start with a fresh bank account when you’re starting your freelance business. This allows you to keep track of your finances with a bit more control, as payments straight into your personal account can get lost.

You will also need invoicing software. Paid options such as Xero and Freeagent are great if you’re making the money. But you may want a free option to start with, check out BrightBook as a good free invoicing solution.

Consider also accepting payment in other formats, such as PayPal, Cryptocurrencies and Stripe.

6. Finding clients

So, you’re all set up and ready to offer a top quality online service. So how do you find paying customers or clients?

Many people default to using online platforms like UpWork, Fiverr, People Per Hour and other similar sites. Yes, these do mean you can find work relatively quickly,but the client base isn’t always the best. But there are tons of options online to find business clients:

  • Be active in Facebook groups in your niche
  • Understand how to manage your Linkedin and how to build your network – if you have a well managed profile then you can even end up with recruiters contacting you for work
  • Reddit also has lots of opportunities if you join groups such as r/forhire or r/freelancejobs
  • Approach businesses in your area and offer your services
  • Ask friends and family for referrals
  • Follow online jobs boards in your niche
  • Apply for actual jobs in your industry using job search sites

There are countless opportunities, but it can take time to find a good client. Be consistent with your strategy and be realistic in your expectations.

Whatever your niche, good luck with setting up your online freelance business. Any other suggestions? Share in the comments below.

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