How to Start a Freelance Business

Freelance is fueling the future of work. In 2021, a new study from Upwork examines remote freelancing across industries.

The study reveals that as of January 2021, an average of 22.9% of workers across all traditional industries are remote. 37% of jobs in non-tech industries in the United States can be done by remote freelancers. In addition, 35% of businesses are hiring freelancers in web, mobile, and software development.  

As the widespread potential for remote freelancing continues to grow, more individuals are making the choice to start a freelance business. Here are the 7 steps you need to follow to start a freelance business.

Define Freelance Offerings

The first step to becoming a successful freelancer is to determine an area (or two) of expertise where you can tap into your existing skill-set to provide a valuable service to your future clients. A few popular fields common to freelance work are:

  • Copywriting
  • Graphic Design
  • App Development
  • Transcription
  • Translation Service
  • Digital Marketing

How do you pick a field to freelance in? This field may be determined by your skills, interest, and existing experience. Some freelancers may have college degrees or certifications that prepare them for this line of work. Others may find it’s beneficial to go back to school or take online courses. This allows them to develop new skills or enhance existing ones before starting a freelance business.

Market Your Services

The next step is to find a suitable freelancing platform where you can market your talents.

Websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Thumbtack are all great spaces that allow you to build your freelance business. You can set pricing and complete projects from clients that allow you to gain experience. Some clients may seek you out on a regular basis to complete projects for them after the initial workload is complete.

As you gradually build your portfolio, you may find clients and earn referrals outside of freelancing websites. Social media platforms like LinkedIn and word of mouth recommendations will allow you to expand your workload, establish strong relationships, and develop a positive reputation in the industry.

Draft a Business Plan

No matter which industry you decide to start in, drafting a business plan will play a significant role in keeping your business on track in reaching its goals. This is a space where you can detail your “why” for starting a freelance business.

Use a business plan to detail your startup’s financial projections. For example, share how you will build a nest egg in the event of a slow season. Conduct a market analysis to find your target audience of clients you would like to work alongside. Outline plans for marketing and advertising your offerings. Additionally, detail how you plan to create and grow your brand over time.

Incorporate Your Business

When you sell your services without forming a legal entity, your are legally operating as a sole proprietorship. However, a sole proprietorship does not provide its owner with limited liability protection. Without this type of a protection, assets of the owner — including cars and houses — may be at risk in the event of an unforeseen circumstance.

The best way to prepare and protect yourself from potential liabilities is to incorporate or form a limited liability company for your freelance business. An LLC (Limited Liability Company) is a popular business entity among freelancers because it allows you to choose your tax structure, while also providing flexibility in management and structure.

Above all, do a little research. This will help determine the entity that is the best fit for you and your business.

Obtain an EIN

Even if you don’t plan to hire employees right away for your freelance business, it’s still a good idea to obtain an employer identification number (EIN). This tax ID allows you to open a business bank account. Having this type of account helps to separate your personal and professional finances. An EIN also helps businesses to build business credit.

Trademark a Business Name

Do you have a unique name for your freelance business? Does this name set you apart from the competition? Can clients immediately identify you when they hear your business name?

Protect the name by filing a trademark application to register the mark on the federal level. In short, you receive exclusive rights to the mark after registration. The name may not be used by anyone else.

Build a Website

A website serves several purposes for your freelance business. Here’s what building a business website can do for freelancers.

  • Introduces visitors to learn more about you, your background, and your area of expertise.
  • Acts as a space to share your professional portfolio. For example, you may highlight your favorite projects and work.
  • Highlights positive reviews and referrals from past and present clients.
  • Contact information, including your email address, phone number, and social media handles to connect.

In conclusion, remember to obtain a relevant and keyword-rich domain name.

Having these essentials, along with the discipline and drive to freelance successfully, will help put you on the path for success in building up your freelance business.

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