The world has shifted dramatically since 2020. We’re not in the same space we used to be.
Businesses across the globe are realizing they need to hire a remote workforce. Employment within a company will never be the same.
In fact, I had an old boss who once told me: “You should view your work like a free agent or independent contractor. You’re not held to any company. The world is just too fluid now.”
That’s why I focus so much of my time on helping people navigate the world of freelancing and the gig economy. Because we’re moving towards this as the standard now.
The good news? You have an incredibly rare opportunity to start a freelancing business on the side, and grow it into a business you actually control.
What makes it even better is you can start a freelancing business as a legitimate side hustle while working your corporate job.
In fact, you’ll become even more efficient with your work if you do so.
Trust me when I say – there is no better feeling than having a second source of income not tied to your primary job. You’ll have leverage, or the ability to say “F&$% you, I make my own rules.”
Ironically, this makes you more valuable to your current company!
The bad news? The competition is getting steep now. 2020 has caused a lot of people to start freelancing on the side, which means there’s much more supply than ever before. You’ll need to start now, like right now, if you want to ride the wave before it’s gone.
So, how do you get started as a freelancing entrepreneur in this crazy new digital world?
Follow this guide!
My goal with this playbook is to give you everything necessary to be successful on your path to freedom. Read this guide up and down. Jump around when you start implementing. Ask me questions via email.
Do whatever it takes to be successful. You deserve to get a slice of the pie. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Why Should You Listen To Me About Starting A Freelance Business?
In 2015 I was faced with a brutal decision.
I had no money (only $200 dollars in my bank account), I had dropped out of school (because of an app I created and subsequently failed with), and I was too proud to get a valet job (the only thing I was really qualified for honestly).
I needed money now. Otherwise my choice was:
- Pack up shop and move back in with my parents with my tail between my legs.
- Figure out how to pay for rent and food.
I was desperate to say the least. In fact, it was the only time in my life I’ve considered suicide.
So, what’s a man to do?
I got deadly serious about making money online. It had always been a fleeting hobby of mine, but I never took it seriously until that moment.
I made a choice I would never go back. Only forward.
So, I went online and I found out about the wonderful world of freelancing. The very day I first learned about freelancing, I created an Upwork account (previously oDesk) and I landed my first job transcribing a business meeting for $30.
I did some quick math. At the rate of $30 per day, I would make $900/month. That would be just enough to pay for rent and some groceries.
I’ve never looked back since. For me, building a freelancing business literally saved my life. I was able to learn very valuable skills while getting paid to do so, on my own terms.
Since then I’ve worked on building my freelancing business as a way of creating skills I’ll need for further down the line.
It’s given me the confidence and ability to perform in a variety of settings. Plus, it gives me a taste of FU money.
In short – I know where you’re at right now. In fact, you’re probably much more advanced than where I was given your starting point.
Just know, you can do it, but only if you make the time for your freelancing business. If you’re working a full-time gig, you’re going to be tired and unmotivated. Especially in the beginning. However, if you really want to make this a reality, promise yourself you’ll dedicate a minimum of 90 focused minutes per day. If you can do this, you’ll be so far ahead of the competition.
Make the time. Build the business. Become independent.
With that said, let’s get into the full playbook.
Full Playbook: The Steps To Start A Freelancing Business
I’m a big fan of chunking down projects into their simpler parts. That’s why this playbook will be helpful.
Before you can start building your freelance empire, it will help to have a clear picture of the mountain you need to climb.
Aim At The Correct Target
Only you can determine this, but I can provide a little clarity to help.
Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
- Is this a lifestyle business or something you want to scale and grow?
- Will freelancing be used as a way to leap into a different career?
- How much time can you actually devote to your freelancing business?
- Is freelancing for paying off a debt, building a nest egg, or something else?
- Would you want to become a freelancer full time, or keep it only as a side hustle?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s a matter of building out your intentions correctly, and the act of answering these questions gives you more clarity.
It gets a little overused in my opinion, but knowing your “Why” is critically important to help you avoid procrastination and get through the dip.
You’ll also know everyday if you’re progressing towards your goals.
I can give you an example of how I used freelancing.
When I first started, my only goal was to make enough money to earn rent. I accomplished that within 60 days.
There was another goal though. I knew I wanted to be in technology sales. I love the idea of selling high technology software to C-suite executives. It’s always seemed up my alley career wise.
I used my freelancing business to get the right kind of experience so I could be qualified for a technology sales role. I learned copywriting, content writing, SEO, sales, and other skills which helped me land a very lucrative role at one of the hottest financial technology companies in the space.
That was me – you’re probably very different. In fact, you most likely have a full time job, and you’re looking for financial freedom.
If that’s the case, maybe your bigger goal is to generate enough income so you can work full time as a freelancer.
Your goal then would be to generate at least 100% of the income you’re currently earning full time from your freelancing business. Then you can successfully quit your corporate job and dive full time into your side hustle.
When you have a mountain you need to climb, start working backwards until you find out step 1. That’s the only way you’ll have a path to walk.
Find A Profitable Skill & Niche
This part is easier than you think. Typically I recommend you just do your day job as a freelancer.
For instance, if you’re in a marketing role, you should freelance doing marketing tasks because that’s what you know and you’ll find success easily.
Let’s say you’re in finance or accounting. Do finance or accounting work as a freelancer.
It sounds simple, but that’s typically the best place to start. Then, if you want to expand into different niches or industries, you can because you’ll have a client book and a great track record.
The other reason is freelancing can feel like a race to the bottom for price. Especially since you’re competing with people in different countries with vastly different exchange rates and living costs.
If you start with what you know already, you’re going to find it easier to beat these other freelancers.
Why? Because a client hires a freelancer for results. Sure they look at price, but how often have you been disappointed by cheap work?
Get Client Number 1
A lot of people will tell you not to go on freelancing sites like Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr. If you’re a seasoned freelancer, I completely agree with you.
However, if you’ve never gotten a client as a freelancer before, I would highly recommend these sites.
They make finding new clients very easy, and they’re literally built to get a client paying for a freelancer as quickly as possible.
I recommend it to start because it’s exactly how I started myself.
Like I mentioned earlier. I went online, found a job for transcription, and just started doing the work.
Was I good? No not really.
Did I learn and improve? You bet!
It was at client number 1 that I realized I was valuable enough to get paying clients. Even if it meant transcribing business meetings.
I didn’t stop there though. I went on from transcribing, to content marketing, to copywriting, to full on sales funnel development.
At the end of the day the client really only wants one thing: “Solve my problem.” If you can do this successfully, they won’t care about your past or credentials.
Plus, with getting client number 1, you’ll determine if you actually want to continue freelancing. Maybe you hate it and you want to focus on building affiliate sites or e-commerce. Those are real possibilities, and you would only know if you had gotten client number 1.
Build A Lead Generation Channel
In the beginning, you can get away with using freelance sites like Upwork or Freelancer. It gets old quickly though.
The problem with using those sites is you literally control nothing about the process. You don’t own the data, Upwork does.
That’s why getting a lead generation channel built will be vital to your success. You’ll want to do this when you have a book of business.
There are many ways you can do this.
Having a website is like owning a piece of digital real estate. The goal with a website is to share all of your wins you’ve generated for clients.
Your website needs to be a place for first impressions. With your website clients will get the chance to see clients you’ve worked with, case studies, your work style, and much more.
Your goal with your website is to communicate who you are, and the services you provide, with the goal of selling yourself to convince the right client to work with you.
The best place to start is by finding other freelancers within your space, and basically mirror them. Don’t feel guilty about mirroring another freelancer in the beginning. You’re still finding your voice, but the successful ones in your space have already uncovered critical talking points their clients want to hear.
Once you’ve created your website and filled it with portfolio items, you’ll want to create SEO content to help you rank.
SEO or search engine optimization, involves writing content and getting it to rank on page one of Google. By doing so, you’ll generate traffic for your site which means more opportunities to land clients.
Establishing a social media presence is another excellent lead generation strategy. You can do amazing cold prospecting (or outreach) with social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Instagram.
You should highly consider this after you’ve created your portfolio website. Most of your competition will not use social as a lead generation strategy. You can burst onto the scene with high quality content for your clients that will make them hungry for more.
As you build likes and followers, your trust level increases and you’ll be able to attract higher quality clients.
It does take a lot of energy, and you’ll feel lost in the beginning. The key to success though is identifying where your target clients are congregating most, and then develop a plan to connect with them and grow your reputation.
If you’re consistent about establishing these relationships, you’ll find it pays dividends well into the future.
Remember – your goal with social outreach isn’t to land a meeting or client within the first cadence. Your goal is to create attention to your brand.
Yes, you obviously want clients, but you won’t get that meeting unless you impress your prospects and create advocates.
Pitching right away is going to turn off a lot of people, particularly on social media. Your only goal with social media lead generation is to convince a cold prospect on why they should consider taking a meeting with you.
When you’ve established they’re a fit and have a need, then you can pitch your services.
Pitch Your Freelance Business
Learn the skill of sales.
It’s the most transferable skill on the planet. The world is driven by sales, and it’s an asset you’ll keep with you forever.
The only way you can grow your freelancing business is by getting new clients. The only way to get new clients is to convince them to pull out their credit card and pay you.
It’s scary, asking someone to do something knowing you might get rejected, but it’s necessary.
Here are a couple basics you can use right now:
- Start with a bold statement: Make the prospect really stop in their tracks and think “No way you can back this up”
- Use a case study: When you’re in your pitch, use a case study from a previous client. Talk about the problem, your approach to solving it, and how you won.
- Pre-handle objections: Think of all the objections you might get, then put them into your sales deck so they get handled before the prospect even thinks of them.
- Ask for the order: The most important part of the sale. Ask for the order. Ask firmly, ask directly, and don’t back down.
Scale Your Freelance Business
This is my favorite part! It’s also the most difficult, in my opinion.
You’ll quickly realize a problem all freelancers face. In order to make more money, you need to bring in more clients.
You’re limited here by your ability to supply the fulfillment for the clients though. That’s the problem with freelancing businesses.
It’s also why you need to learn to scale yourself and your business.
To do this, you need to learn about hiring, creating standard operating procedures, and systematizing yourself out of the business.
The CEO of any business should be the chief sales person. If you get good enough, you need to teach other people how to perform the job, so you can do the work of finding clients.
You can use tools like process.st where you can create checklists for you and your team. Doing this gives you the chance to scale yourself without sacrificing quality.
There’s much more to this which I’ll dive into at a later date.
Executive Summary: How To Start A Freelance Business
I hope this guide has provided you value.
It’s not an easy task trying to build a business. However, that’s the beauty of side hustles. You can work on them while still having a 9-5 job.
In fact, I hope you start this side hustle. The gig economy is not coming, it’s already here. You’re going to need to learn how to support yourself as an independent agent. That’s just the brutal truth.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!