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How to Start a Profitable Freelance Business

how to start a profitable freelance business

A lot of people are confused as to what business can probably make them money the fastest; lucky for you, you already know what you want – and that is to start a profitable freelance business!

But the problem is, how do you get started? Though this is nothing of a concern for most people, starting a profitable freelance business can be a puzzle in itself and this article will address the common questions that you may have when planning to launch a freelance business.

One of the wonderful things about starting a freelance business is that you’re already equipped with the right knowledge and skills that will help you serve your clients efficiently, effectively, and of course, profitably.

This goes without saying that the best freelance business to start is by offering services for skills or talents that you’re already good at; otherwise, it will take longer for you to profit from your venture.

Everyone, and I mean all of us are equipped with some sort of skills that other people are willing to pay for; it could be something that you’ve learned in school, at a job, or a hobby.

Now, having mentioned “hobby” as a source of skills, you’ve got to keep in mind that not all hobbies are profitable. Starting a serious freelance business is far from just doing what you love because there are a lot of things that people like you and I would love to do with our spare time but not all of those are profitable.

Gamers – for example, can get paid playing and reviewing games but no one (as of this writing) that I know, gets paid simply watching TV in their living room.

If you’re unsure about what skills or services you can offer as a freelancer, here’s a trick:

  1. Get a pen and paper (or shoot up MS Excel), divide it into three columns, labeled: Skills I Have, Services I can Offer, Will People Pay? as below:
  2. Start listing all the things that you know or have learned from your education, previous jobs, or your hobbies in the first column.
  3. After coming up with at least 10 skills/experience, Answer the second column with a “Yes” or a “No”.
  4. Jot down possible services that you can offer based on those skills or experiences that people may pay you for, i.e. guitar lessons under the skill, playing a guitar/singing lessons, under singing / graphic design service underdrawing, and/or graphic design.

If you’re planning to establish a solid business that people will know you or your company for, you must group a couple of related services that you can offer out of your skills and experience to form a closely knitted line of services that’s within a related industry then focus and specialize on these skills. This is important as this will later help you build your brand and expertise around this niche.

Don’t try to offer a bunch of unrelated services as a freelancer, the goal here isn’t just to offer services. You can’t promote yourself as a DJ and a handyman in one business card or logo; it just doesn’t match up. You must position yourself in the marketplace as an expert in one industry. Also, the key to building a profitable business is the focus! Don’t try to be the jack of all trade and expect people to pay you. You can build other businesses based on your other skills later but for now, just focus on a few related services that can make you money right away.

So how do you know which ones have the potential of making you money as a freelancer? You Google it!

Say you’re planning to offer house sitting services based on your locality, simply pop-up Google on your browser and key in “house-sitting services” on the search field.

If there’s a competition, then you’ve got a business! I know that a lot of you budding tycoons would prefer to start businesses with no competition but last time I checked, if you’re in an enterprise without a competition; you’re technically not in business as it will be harder for you to convince your prospective clients that your services are worth their hard-earned money.

Keep in mind that competition is good; of course, you don’t have to go head-on with your biggest competition. You must find a backdoor fist, start swimming in the small pond, get some clients, and experience under your belt as a freelancer then you can later compete in the big league.

How to Get Your First Clients as A Freelancer

Depending on who your target market is, there are several ways on how you can promote your services to land your first couple of clients as a freelance service provider. Luckily, nowadays, technology is so advanced that you can utilize social media and the internet to shamelessly promote yourself.

Classified Ads Websites

You can start by looking up local classifieds websites like the following:

If you’re promoting to your city or locality, chances are you’ll have classified ads web sites that are local to your community. In most places in the US and Canada, Craigslist offers classified listings that are local to towns and cities. If Craigslist is popular in your area; this is one advertising resource you shouldn’t miss. If however, Craigslist isn’t as popular in your area; there should be at least one classified ads site that has dominated your locality. In Canada for example, Kijiji is more popular than Craigslist, and a lot of contractors, repair, and tradespeople use this site very well to attract clients to their freelance businesses.

Facebook Groups

Noticed the many Facebook groups in your area? From buy and sell to speed trap groups, to everything local… people, even in the digital world, still need to belong in a group as we’re all, after all… social beings!

Now, you will need to build your business by joining all the groups in your local community, the sad thing about social media sites is that they are extremely time-wasting venues but not if you use it toward your advantage.

The best way to take advantage of Facebook groups in your area is, of course, to have a Facebook account (which you may already have). You don’t have to create a Facebook page for your business yet, especially if you don’t have one registered yet. Just use your personal Facebook profile for now.

Start joining Facebook buy and sell groups by searching Facebook for keywords like:

“your city buy and sell”

“your city deals”

Or simply…

“your city”

And see all the groups that are available in your area that you could promote your services to.

You’ll be surprised how many Facebook groups and members that are already in your area.

Keep in mind that most of these groups are closed groups, so a member will have to approve your request to join the group.

Once in, you must check the groups’ posting rules or regulations to make sure you’re not violating any of those. This is important to remain a member of the group long-term and establish your reputation as a reliable service provider, this will result in a lot of referrals from group members down the road.

Most groups allow regular postings for self-promotion but some are strict. Posting photos of your recent projects in community local groups is a clever idea as it establishes your expertise and builds your credibility.

It’s also a good idea to design (or have someone design) social ad graphics you can post on these Facebook groups.

Online Freelance Job Boards

Thanks to the internet, freelancing is no longer limited to your geographic location. You can be in the remotest town in the world and serve clients from anywhere in the world long as your service (or product) can be delivered via the internet.

There are a couple of Freelance job boards that can help you get started and even grow your online freelancing business. The only drawback to these job boards is competition. I know that somewhere in the article I’ve mentioned that competition is good, which it is but you need to establish your credibility very well with these job boards. The trick here is to prove and establish your expertise right from the get-go. So, how do you do just that? You need to have a strong and well thought out, freelance profile. How? By putting your best foot forward!

Most online Freelancing platform will offer an overview page of your candidacy, portfolio, and job history.

Write your overview well, it’s like a cover letter for a résumé that will tell your prospective clients why they should hire you, what makes you different from everyone else in that job board, and why you deserve their hard-earned money.

Feature your best work on your portfolio and make it a point that when they hire you that you’re going to deliver the same quality work. This goes without saying but you must always give your best in every job that you’re hired.

Charge low, at first. Reviews are a big thing in this environment and most of the people who offer services in this platform are just there for the money. Be different; you must focus on delivering true value to your clients even at low fees at the start as this will get you going. Charging a premium when you don’t have a review yet may not land you any gig so start by charging low and delivering high-quality work, get some awesome reviews under your belt then start increasing your fees over-time. Before you know it, you’ve already replaced your full-time income simply by freelancing online.

Here is a list of 45 Online Freelance and Remote Job Boards and Websites

  1. Upwork
  2. Freelancer
  3. Toptal
  4. Guru
  5. 99Designs
  6. PeoplePerHour
  7. GetACoder
  8. IFreelance
  9. Envato Studio
  10. Fiverr
  11. Dribbble
  12. Ehtlance (Similar to Upwork and Freelancer but you get paid in Ether Cryptocurrency)
  13. WordPress Job Board (Design and development gigs)
  14. LinkedIn ProFinder
  15. Krop (Design, marketing, administrative, copywriting jobs, and gigs)
  16. Coroflot
  17. Problogger Jobs
  18. WPHired (WordPress related jobs and gigs)
  19. WeWorkRemotely
  20. Hirable (Freelance Recruiting Platform for Developers)
  21. Crew
  22. RemoteOkJobs (Remote Jobs for Digital Nomads)
  23. OnSite
  24. Folyo
  25. Gigster
  26. YunoJuno
  27. CrowdSite
  28. Joomlancers (Freelance marketplace for Joomla developers)
  29. JavaScript Ninja Jobs (for cyber-security professionals)
  30. Localancers
  31. SoloGig (Engineering and IT gigs)
  32. Authentic Jobs
  33. CrowdSpring (freelance jobs for creatives)
  34. DesignCrowd
  35. WorkingNomads
  36. Traction (Marketing & Social Media)
  37. Juiiicy
  38. Mechanical Turk
  39. TheMuse
  40. Freelanced
  41. SkipTheDrive
  42. VirtualVocations
  43. RatRaceRebellion
  44. Remotive

Most of these job boards serve the international market so again, depending on which part of the world you’re in; some of your competition may be offering the very same services that you would at half the price due to lower cost of living in their area but then, of course, it all comes down to quality workmanship and exemplary customer service.

Local Service Marketplaces

If you’re a skilled person, there’s no shortage of local marketplaces where you can offer your services to those who need them. Below is a list of marketplaces you can register as a service provider:

  1. Thumbtack
  2. TaskRabbit
  3. Airtasker
  4. LocalSolo
  5. GenTask
  6. Amazon Home Services

If you haven’t noticed, most local service marketplaces are focused on home services where remote freelance marketplaces and job boards focus more on services you can deliver digitally.

Offline Networking

Daunting as this may sound especially if you’re not a naturally outgoing person and as opposed to what other online marketing gurus tell you, old school networking works like a charm if you’re target market is within your local area.

Networking doesn’t have to mean, strictly business networking events. Any event where your target market is most likely to hang out is a networking opportunity for you, it may be a party, workshops, and seminars that are related to your trade, skills, or service(s) or simply community gatherings.

Keep in mind that you should be ready with pictures or portfolios of your past jobs or projects; if not, you must be able to present or share some samples when you get the chance to interact with your prospective clients on these networking events.

Speaking of business cards, networking events are not like speed-dating events where you try speed date (meet) as many people as you can. Similarly, most budding entrepreneurs just do the same without really establishing significant connections with the people they meet. A lot of new freelancers simply distribute business cards in networking events without showing real interest in people they meet. The goal is to “network” in the real sense of the word, don’t try to hand your business cards to everyone in the event, instead establish a friendly conversation with one to five people. Ask them what they’re doing and what brought them to the event, be sincere, and try to establish a connection. Instead of giving your business card outright, ask for their contact information, save it on your phone and send them a text or ring their phone so they get your number. When asked what it is that you do, don’t tell them that you’re a freelancer, be concise:

“I’m a photographer and I specialize in so and so…”

“I’m a bookkeeper, I serve the small business and self-employed market”

“I’m a graphic artist and I do a lot of logo and flyer designs for small businesses like yours”

“I’m a financial advisor and I help professionals and business owners maximize their retirement funds”.

You get the picture…

Networking events are an opportunity to establish connections and deliver value to your prospective clients and find centers of influences, so try not to sell people outright; make every effort to learn about them and determine your angle of approach… you’ve got to establish a connection for people to buy from you. Remember, people buy from people they trust.

Offline networking isn’t limited to business and professional networking events, parties, social gatherings, the mall, your children’s school also presents opportunities for prospecting. You always must be prospecting as you never know where your next client(s) may pop-out from.

Fliers and Rack Cards

Opposed to what every online marketing guru is saying about print media marketing, they still work in this digital age of ours. Fliers and rack cards are excellent if you’re offering your services locally.

Depending on which part of the world you are, printing fliers and rack cards would cost you a couple of hundreds of dollars in investment but they can get you going in establishing a profitable freelance business in your locality.

As with any other marketing strategy, distribute your fliers where you’re target market most likely hangs out like hobby clubs, churches, gyms, niche stores, etc.

If you’re providing services to homeowners, families, or individuals who are not necessarily business owners themselves, distributing your fliers on a couple of churches on Sundays will keep you going. Try not to distribute the fliers at the door after the church service as most people will find this annoying; instead, clip your fliers on the dashboards of their cars. If you feel embarrassed distributing fliers yourself, hire teens who would happily do this for you.

In terms of the rack cards you’ve printed, you can hit the pavement and walk-in to retail stores, restaurants, clinics and any other establishments with high walk-in traffic and tell them about what you’re doing and if it’s possible to leave a couple of fliers (rack cards) on their counter. Not everyone will allow it but most locally owned businesses would happily help a fellow entrepreneur.

Finally… Understand the Two Laws of Success:

The Law of Sowing and Reaping

There is a universal law that states that for a man to reap, he must have sown first. No man in the history of this world has ever and will ever reap, without sowing first. In business and in life, you have to be willing to plant the seeds before you reap the fruits of your labor. Without sowing, one just can’t expect to reap; it’s that simple, however, a lot of would-be entrepreneurs miss this simple law. Lots of us are getting rich quick junkies, always looking for the next best thing – a shiny object syndrome that many would-be great entrepreneurs have fallen prey on.

Any business owner should understand and accept this fact: You can not reap what you have not sown.

Keep in mind that any business you’re going to start will require some sort of investment from you, which may be in a form of capital, time, and hard work. It doesn’t matter if it takes your blood, sweat, and tears. If you understand this simple law of the universe, you realize that you have to do whatever it takes to make your venture a successful one, doesn’t matter if you’re working as a freelancer or a small business owner. The law of sowing and reaping holds true and it must be observed.

The Law of Averages

The most successful salespeople and network marketing leaders understand this law very well. The law of averages states that the more people (prospects) you see, the more sales you make.

Cold-calling or prospecting is the most-feared function of any sales job and unfortunately, especially if you’re targeting your local market, this is one of the most important skills that you will have to develop as a freelancer or a small business owner if you are to succeed in the business world. What prevents a lot of people from approaching prospects for their products or services is the fear of rejection. The law of averages states that it really doesn’t matter whether or not a prospect will buy from you, just make that freaking call because some won’t yet some will and eventually when you average it, there will be more people who have acquired your products or services than those who haven’t – all because you’ve decided to make that call and offer your services to as many prospects as you can. You never know who’s going to close if you don’t ask for the sale.

In Closing

I hope that you’ve found this article helpful in your journey of starting a profitable freelance business. If so, please don’t hesitate to share this with your network so it may help others who are on the same journey as you are.

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