While many industries have suffered during the pandemic, one area of the economy that is flourishing is the freelance market. A recent 2020 survey revealed that more than one-third of the American workforce is freelancing, contributing $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy. Another new study released by Fiverr confirms this trend, with 68% of workers surveyed saying that they are more open to freelance work or a side hustle. «We already know that the pandemic has increased the willingness of companies to work with freelancers, but on the flip side, we are seeing that working from home has also encouraged more full-time workers to give freelancing a shot,» said Hila Klein, COO at Fiverr. And not only are their numbers growing, but 75% of freelancers earn equal or more than when they were in a full-time job.
With more time spent at home, people are using this opportunity to create multiple streams of income. Shahar Erez, CEO and founder of Stoke Talent, a platform designed to help freelance workers find jobs and support companies looking to fill open roles, shares five fundamental tips to start a freelance business.
Determine your focus
The first step is to decide on the type of work you would like to concentrate on—whether it’s small ad-hoc gigs, short-term projects or long-term engagements. For example, if you build company websites, that may be a longer-term project than assisting with a one-off marketing campaign. Making this determination early on will allow you to plan your time accordingly and remain focused so that you can prepare for a steady flow of projects (and ultimately income).
Expand your network
Contact everyone you know so you can build and expand your network. Tell people about your business, get feedback and ask for referrals. Over 80% of freelancers find and land quality jobs through friends, family and professional contacts. It can also be valuable to reach out to companies you worked for previously. Perhaps the marketing team you were part of is understaffed and needs assistance preparing for an upcoming campaign. Also, keep an eye on what firms your old contacts have moved to. People transition frequently, and a former manager might be looking to contract out work at their new job. Making others aware of your activities will help you to stay top of mind.
Build your brand
Start building your brand—the sooner you do this, the better. And remember, you are your brand. Invest time updating your social media profiles and create a portfolio on relevant platforms like Dribble, Behance, Git or Stack Overflow, to name a few. It will give potential clients an idea of the type of work you do and for whom you have worked. When you complete a project, share your work publicly. By updating your social media profiles regularly, you will appear in relevant newsfeeds so others can learn about your business. Branding is everything, and it starts with awareness.
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Develop a pricing strategy
Determine your pricing and business strategy. Once you set a price, it will be difficult to make changes for repeat clients, so make sure you know your worth. Don’t undervalue yourself. If you’re unsure how to set your pricing, do your research. Ask people in your network, connect with other freelancers or even ask friends what their companies have paid freelancers. This data-driven approach will give you a reliable starting point.
Evolve your business
Learn, adapt and try to find a strong mentor early on. You might fail at landing the first few opportunities but experimenting, getting feedback and constantly evolving in this economy is critical. Most of all, be grateful for the chance to do what you love. While you can feel overwhelmed as you get your freelance business off the ground, patience and flexibility will help set you up for long-term success.
The freelance market is booming, providing ample opportunity for people to leave the 9 to 5 grind so they can determine their own hours, choose their own projects and, in many cases, make more money. Don’t wait to take life by the reins. While starting a business is a tough road, the rewards can be well worth the effort.