The world needs what you have. The millennial movement is literally changing the way people have done business for centuries. The trend suggests to business owners that outsourcing is the way to go. It totally makes sense, because it enables you to have a specialist dedicated to a specific task, someone who has an invested interest in getting the task done well and fast. The most important part of this article is the quick pep talk where I remind you that your time is not free. Your intellectual property is valuable. Your skills deserve a price tag. Most freelancers are the only thing stopping themselves from getting paid. Are you a master of your craft? Are people paying for your services with other companies/individuals? Value yourself enough to know your worth and go after it. The question is how do you stand out and snatch up these opportunities before owners hire their fourth cousins that “do website stuff?”
Here are a few quick tips on how I went from making fliers for my church to getting paid for my talents:
- Have a logo. This is the face of your business. It can be simple and done inexpensively. The best way to set yourself up for a quick turn-around on logo design is to have an idea of what you’re looking for. Think about colors and fonts and what image you want others to think about when they see your name. Pinterest is an excellent resource for being able to show a graphic designer what you like. Make sure it’s something you can picture on your materials forever. It’s hard enough to establish your name as a freelancer, the last thing you want to do is constantly change your brand’s image. Check out: Pinterest Boards for Logo Design
- Have a website. Seems silly to say, but most of the time people fall into freelancing because they genuinely enjoy what they do and others notice it. Having a website adds legitimacy when you start to get qualified referrals. My suggestion is to use a self-hosted WordPress site through BlueHost. There are currently over 300,000 free themes and a ton of free plug-ins or additional software options that let people book online, watch a live social media thread as you update and even pay their invoices and deposits. It’s also great because you get up to 5 email addresses, which also adds legitimacy to what you do. Check out: Getting Started with WordPress
- Order business cards. Again, make it easy on the clients you may already have to give you the sale. This also helps you to be prepared if you run into someone at a networking event or even the grocery store that might be interested in doing business with you. Your budget is up to you on this. You can go with an inexpensive option such as Vista Print or use Moo.com for something a little more creative. Either way, business cards are a must! Again, Pinterest is another great resource for card design inspiration: Check out: Business Card Design
- Always provide testimonials and be ready to give references. The universe can only give you what you’re prepared for. You might know someone that you went to school with or that you know personally who is involved with an established business. An opportunity for you might require several rounds of clearance. Be prepared to produce examples of your work and have people who will stand by your services. It makes a huge difference because major corporations are willing to pay more money if they’re worried about liability and legitimacy. Don’t give them a reason to count you out if it comes to needing to do their research! Make it easy for people to give feedback following a job by creating a Google form that collects all of the testimonials in one spot. Here’s how I send mine: Feedback and Testimonials Form
- Establish a P.O. box if you’re not prepared to list your physical location.
- Secure all social media channels and come up with a plan to advertise. For a consultant, this might seem like the last thing to do. But whether you’re cleaning houses, providing interior design consulting or even selling cars, being the “face of your business” makes a big difference. Blogging also allows you to own space through SEO and present yourself as an expert in your field.
- Prepare contracts ahead of time. Think of the time it takes to close a deal as a gas
tank. If you start on empty you want to make sure that you are quickly attempting to move the needle to full. Don’t drive for a week, going from gas station to gas station. Set yourself up for success by being ready to close business within 24-48 hours. Be aggressive with your closing but still confident in your services. DocuSign is a great resource for this because you can send over a contract in a consultation which can be signed right there as long as you have a smartphone. Check out: DocuSign Free Trail
- File with the state and get your Tax EIN number (Employee ID Number). Some businesses will want to see this information on your contracts if they plan to write off any services above $500. This also allows you to claim your business expenses on your taxes next year.
A good freelancer/consultant will do most of these things within the first month or so. Others drag some of these initiatives out for years. I know photographers who do great work but don’t have business cards or even a booking option on their site for years after being a success. It’s probably partially due to the fact that once you get rolling it’s hard to make the time do put your own brand first.