Say goodbye to the 9-to-5 grind as you step out on your own. Working as a freelancer is a smart move in today’s economy, with more and more companies outsourcing their writing, designing and consulting, often to professionals far away from the local office. That gives you the opportunity to do what you want from home according to your own schedule. Be careful, though, as not everyone finds success when they venture into the world of gigs. These tips will help to see you through.
Create a Work Space
With too many distractions, you won’t get anything done. If you can shut yourself away from the outside world in an entirely separate room of your house, that’s wonderful, but there’s no need to despair if you can’t. Just set up your desk in a quiet corner and hide it behind some dividers or strategically-placed cabinets. Even better if you can leave it exposed to natural light, which will keep you awake and refreshed during the daily grind. Other tips from business magazine Fast Company include adding a touch of greenery for ambiance and being smart about storage to keep your space from feeling cluttered.
There’s no tech team to call when your computer breaks down. You’re on your own. Though it
may not seem like a good idea to spend money as you’re just branching out, now’s the time to
invest in yourself, as you can’t afford to turn down clients or file work late because of
technological difficulties. What you need depends on your line of business, but a good laptop is a must, as it will keep you in contact with your network and allow you to make some headway on projects no matter where you are.
Set a Schedule
With no boss looking over your shoulder, it’s up to you to maintain some self-discipline and keep busy, even with all the distractions around the home. One writer at Thrive Global makes a solid case for the old-fashioned to-do list, which gives you a great sense of satisfaction in crossing things off as you advance through the workday. However, don’t forget to schedule in downtime so that you don’t get exhausted. That could even include some exercise or walking the dog.
Take Control of Finances
According to the finance website NerdWallet, many freelancers don’t even know how much
they’re making on a monthly business, and that can be dangerous, as it keeps you from
planning effectively for slower periods during the year. One way to make tracking your revenue easier is to open a separate bank account for your business. Once you’ve done that, you can move onto other important financial tasks, like budgeting and determining how much money you need to put aside each month for taxes.
Make Time for Marketing
This is going to make or break your business, though it’s often hard to devote time to finding
new clients while you’re busy with projects in the pipeline. The key is to write in an hour or two into your daily schedule and devote it to spreading your message. You’ll have to brand yourself as a business through your website, blog and direct marketing efforts. Your own expertise is what’s on sale, and your professionalism is reflected in details such as your logo and photos.
Get Out and Mingle
As wonderful as your home office is, there are times when you’ve got to go into the real world to network, not to mention keep up your social skills. It’s not all about attending business conventions with stuffy suits talking in business jargon. In fact, that’s the wrong way to approach it. Bring a smile, a few conversation starters, and some business cards. You’ll find events to attend online and through social media. If not, start your own group and arrange some face-to-face meetings over coffee or a few drinks.
With a good deal of effort and the right marketing strategy, you should start to see your revenue take off, and all from the comfort of your own home. The crew back at the office will be jealous.
Written by Lucy Reed