Many salaried workers dream of becoming independent, of no longer having to depend on a hierarchy that is sometimes cumbersome and of being able to choose the projects on which they will work. While freelancing is often synonymous with freedom, there are also a number of constraints to take into account if you do not want the adventure to turn into a nightmare. Wondering how to become a freelancer? Here are the keys to success.
Why become independent?
Have you settled into the routine in your current job? Do you want change? If your job no longer satisfies you, whether in terms of accomplishment, recognition, security or salary, it is undoubtedly time to change, so why not become independent?
What is freelancing exactly? Becoming independent means that you will be totally autonomous in your work. You will be able to choose the quantity of assignments you will carry out, the clients for whom you will carry them out, the price you will charge, your working hours… You must also be aware that no longer being a salaried employee, you will also have to manage the business, marketing, contractual and accounting aspects of your activity. It will be necessary to free up time for all these activities that are “attached” to your main business.
1- Define your objectives
Even if the more or less long-term goal is to work freelance full-time, it is not always, or even rarely immediately feasible. It is indeed illusory to believe that the labour market awaits you with open arms and that you will be able from the beginning t to find the same level of remuneration as when you are salaried.
Many former employees who have achieved freelance status fail to attain their project because they have not defined clear objectives from the start. Even with limited expenses, they end up losing their savings, to the point of having to find new work urgently.
To avoid this, it is essential to clearly target objectives. Start by setting a long-term goal, at least for one year. Do you just want to get extra income in addition to your current salary to increase your purchasing power or do you want to change your life radically by becoming your own boss? What monthly salary do you want to get after one year? Your life by becoming your own boss? What monthly salary do you want to get after one year? Once the long-term goal is established, it needs to be divided into several shorter-term goals. For example, you can decide on monthly milestones. You must decide at each stage how much salary you expect, the number of hours and schedules to be dedicated to this new activity and the number of clients to be canvassed. It will then be possible to track the progress of the conversion to freelance status and the ground to be covered before you can quit your current job to become a full-time freelancer.
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2- Find a profitable market
If you wait to find the brilliant idea that will make you rich, you are taking the risk of waiting a long time.
Instead, start by taking stock of the strengths and skills that can serve you. It could be knowledge accumulated during your lifetime (whether professional or not), skills acquired over the years and your natural abilities.
This assessment will allow you to define the field in which you can get started. It will then be necessary to detect a need in this area in order to propose your solutions and services to potential clients. The important thing is to focus on this offer in particular to propose a quality service and not to become scattered, at the risk of disappointing clients. There are many self-employed people on the market. The best will distinguish themselves based on the quality of their services and not on the price they ask.
3- Identify your target clientele
It would be useless to approach people who will not be interested in your services. It would be a waste of time for everyone. It is better to target precisely those people you will be addressing. You have to identify targets that your services will help, who will be able to afford them, get to know them, and figure out the best way to get in touch with them. By knowing your prospects well and speaking directly to them, you will be able to provide them with a quality service tailored to their needs and thus obtain recommendations.
4- Define the pricing strategy for your services
It may be difficult to set rates, especially at the beginning of your business. Start by finding out the prevailing prices on the market. This will give you a range of reasonable prices. Set an attractive price in this range and offer your services to your prospects. The objective is to build a reputation with the first clients. The work must therefore be of excellent quality. By obtaining recommendations, you can approach and obtain other clients, while gradually increasing your rates. The stage of identifying the target audience makes sense here because it will allow you to offer exactly the right services to the right people, at the right prices.
5- Build a quality portfolio
It’s important to share your successes. Use a website to present your specialties and your various references. Highlight your strengths, your skills and your know-how. A complete contact form is also essential. Make sure that you respond quickly and accurately to any request that may be made through this means.
Update your site regularly so as to show your dynamism, your development, your new clients and your work. Feel free to point out examples of what you are able to provide as benefits so that potential clients are more aware of what you are capable. A prospect will only become a client if he or she is convinced that you will be able to offer a solution that exactly matches his or her needs.
6- Choose your first clients carefully
When you start your business as a freelancer, you will need to devote significant time to each client to ensure complete satisfaction. It is therefore important to voluntarily limit the number of clients for whom you will be working. You must be able to give the best for those first clients. The perception they will have of you and of your work will then serve as a basis for the entire development of your activity.
Do not hesitate to mention the clients for whom you have already worked in your publications (flyers, website, etc.) and when you are canvassing prospects. Ask them also to share their opinion and to leave a testimonial on your site. These client references are essential to convince your prospects.
7- Learn to sell yourself
To work as a freelancer, you have to learn how to sell yourself. You may be the best in your category, but if you are not able to showcase yourself, your skills and your work in the best light, it will be difficult to convince clients to trust you.
The writing of messages intended for prospects must therefore be well thought out. You need to brag about your strengths, answer most questions before they are asked, anticipate objections, present graphic examples tailored to your listener and demonstrate your expertise in the field.
It is necessary to communicate often, and especially to personalize the communication. Most of the messages sent to prospects end up in the trash, unless they are perfectly targeted, and meet a specific need of the recipient.
8- Do not mix your salaried work with your freelance activity
It is important to compartmentalize your salaried activity and your freelance activity until you are ready to be full time. It would be a shame to jeopardize your work when you are not yet ready to live solely on your freelance work.
Most employment agreements contain exclusivity and restrictive clauses. It is therefore important to respect the agreements signed and the rules set by your employer, not to overlap working hours and not to use the resources of the company for your self-employment activity.
To conclude on freelance work
There are many reasons that may push you to become independent. Whether it’s testing an activity without financial stress, increasing your income, improving your knowledge and skills, or developing your passion, it’s imperative to define your goals clearly and plan a significant progressive increase of your activity. It is at this price that you can turn an experiment into a real success.
To help you in your approach, do not hesitate to test the Nutcache project management solution free of charge for 14 days. You will find all the tools you need to manage and develop your freelance business.