13 Useful Tips to Get your Freelance Business Started in 2012

The thought of becoming a freelancer sounds very intriguing. In todays article I will give you some tips that will help you for the new year when starting or taking the leap to freelancing.

Have a plan

Starting a freelance business is great but many designers and developers start freelancing without putting any initial thought into the process. If you’re looking to do things on your own plan out what type of goals you would like to meet, what to do when months are slow, and how to keep customers flowing and retuning to your service. When starting a freelance business it is crucial that you have extra money and a plan as a safety net. Below I have listed ways to help better prepare you for your new freelancing business.

Project Management

Project Management

Whether you build a project management system from scratch or use a service like Basecamp it is important to stay in touch with your clients and have a plan laid out so the client can see progress and progression on behalf of yourself and their project.

Payments

You can receive payments from client using many different methods like cash, paypal, moneybooker etc. Planning out how you will bill your clients and receive payment is a very important thing to think about. If you’re looking for ways to send invoices use services like Fresh Books, BillGrid or Invoice Machine to handle that. If you’re looking to receive cash check out PayPal or Moneybookers.

Professional email

Having an emails like yourservice@gmail.com is great but having a email like name@yourservice.com is a bit more professional. Create an email using your current domain name for your web service. Create different emails to handle clients services and support. That way you can separate clients issues from services.

Freelancing sites

Freelance

I know there are many freelancer who says there is no way you can find work using freelancing sites and i have to say they are completely wrong! There are months when you will have no work nor any clients. Sign up at freelancing sites like oDesk or Elance and begin bidding for projects in your niche. Yes you will have to start at the bottom but once you get enough reviews and feedback you will be at a very good position in no time. Give it a try and don’t give up.

Don’t Quit! (yet)

I know how dreadful it can be working the 09:00-17:00: 40 hour work week (Don’t we all hate it?). There are times where you feel you can do your job alone and better and quitting is at the tip of your tongue. It can be very hard working longs hours then coming home working even more hours to meet needs for your clients and work provider, but doing so gives you a better chance of succeeding. If you quit your job now then you no longer will have benefits, promise pay check, nor any work to do (Well at least paid work). Freelancing is great but having a paycheck is greater.

Recycling Revenue

When finally taking the jump to the freelancing road you have to now think about how you will continue to keep the cash rolling in. Getting a client to return to your service can be very difficult especially if you’ve built their website on a content management system like WordPress. Once a client is familiar with WordPress or the platform you’ve built their website on and realize they can purchase a $20 template for it they will never return. So how do you keep theme coming back for more? If you’re looking forward to seeing your client again create here are some things you can do.

Create their website using a robust cms.

This might sound crucial but hey you have to make a living to. Create your client website using a custom content management system or joomla, or even drupal (good choice). Yes wordpress is great but it is also very easy to pick up.

Purchase reseller hosting

Nowadays you can find pretty good reseller hosting plans. Purchase a reseller hosting plan and offer it to your clients. Say a reseller hosting plan is $30 a month ($360 year) and you charge a client $100 for the year and you have 8 clients ($800/client). Thats $440 dollar profit just for 8 clients!

Offer Updates, extra services

Offering extra service and maintenance can also be a great way to bring in extra income. Sometimes themes are outdated or clients would like to add new additions to their website which is a great way to add to your service.

Give discounts

Offer clients a discount next time they use your service. Giving your client a discount not only shows you care about their pockets but also shows them that you’re thankful for their well being.

Connection

Form a relationship with your clients. Make your client feel as if you have meet face to face (maybe you have) with them and that they are a friend of yours. That will keep them coming back to you since they’re comfortable with you and your service.

Standing out from the crowd

Crowd

Once you begin to freelancing you start to realize that there are a lot of freelancers who provide the same service as you do. You now start to give up hope since you cannot find clients or compete with the big dogs. How can you stand out from others? Standing out from others can be very difficult if you do not know where to start. Offer your clients packages that other services providers do not offer. Host a contest or two to give back to your clients.

Stay connected with your clients at all times so that they feel the connection between you and them. Move away from the template portfolio and create something from scratch that best describes your service. The #1 rule in my book is to always be generous and respond to clients question quickly. That shows a client that you’re there “24/7″ for their needs and that they can count on you.

Good luck to new year

Taking the step to freelancing is a steep curve but can be very rewarding if successful. I’ve been freelancing for 4+ years and I have to say it can be very stressful at times and at other times it can be very rewarding. If you’re planning on starting a freelance business for the new year take the above into account and remember nothing comes easy without a little bit of hard work.

Marcell Purham is a passionate web developer from Chicago IL. Keen on startups and creating great things. You can check out his work at Cell designs or follow him on twitter via @marcellpurham.

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7 Comments
  1. Paul Dec 30, 11:18 am

    I find that people using freelance sites such as elance are only looking for the cheapest freelancer.

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    • Marcell Dec 30, 8:09 pm

      Yes in most cases but when a company or firm goes to look for someone to do a serious project where do they go? They go to odesk or elance and I have found good work on these sites and have seen many freelancers turn to it.

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  2. Davide De Maestri Dec 30, 12:56 pm

    I only disagree on “Professional email” point. I don’t think that name.surname@gmail.com is a bad choice and “un-professional”. In this moment gmail offers an unparalleled service by offline email-clients.

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    • Adrian Dec 30, 1:02 pm

      Try to use google apps, for example i use gmail account for info @ designmodo.com + outlook (pop3)

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  3. Tyron Janse van Vuuren Apr 23, 5:29 pm

    “Don’t quit (yet!)” is really NB.

    The trick is to build your “side hustle” slowly until the income is large enough to live off.

    Nice one, Marcell!

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  4. hannah May 8, 11:32 pm

    this is totally garbage… freelance sites like elance and odesk will get you nowhere. Get a real freelance job.

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  5. DC Jun 21, 12:54 am

    Well it’s halfway through the year and I’m just reading this now. What a great article. I’m putting this as part of my freelance business plan for sure, and thank you so much for the advice.

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