I have been freelancing full-time for over two years now, part-time for a few months before that, and have been profitable since day 1.
One of the biggest reasons I was able to be profitable immediately was because I did not spend one single dime on anything business related.
No business cards, no website, no domain name, no marketing or ads, nothing.
Instead, the very first thing I did was go out and find clients.
There is no business, no money without clients.
So I took to LinkedIn, answered Craigslist ads, got on Indeed and Reddit. I went out and direct messaged people on Instagram and Facebook (through business pages).
I took a couple of random blog posts I’d previously written and put on my personal Blogspot blog that I’d had for 6 or 7 years. I edited them and formatted them as PDFs to use as writing samples.
I did research on freelance writer pricing and sometimes simply pulled numbers out of the air when talking to prospective clients.
I found a free freelance contract template online and used that. With some edits and adjustments, I still use it.
As a result, I made money immediately because my business had zero debt.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but I persisted. I learned to make sure I had a contract in place. I learned right away that the people who ask for free work or who promise “exposure” aren’t people I want to work with.
I figured out better pricing after realizing my prices were too low to be sustainable.
I maintain my business in a similar way today. I am not afraid to say no to working with someone I don’t think is a good fit. I am not afraid to market myself all the time. I learned to keep an active pipeline so there are always more projects coming.
I learned what I love to do and how to do less of the work I don’t enjoy as much.
I’m not perfect.
I’m not the best business owner or marketer or writer in the world.
But I am a successful one. A profitable one making a livable (and more!) salary.
Here are some of my best tips for new freelancers or people looking to become one:
- Make sure to have multiple clients, never rely on one big client for all your salary — that client could stop at any time.
- Always be marketing yourself and looking to keep your pipeline full. Even if you are not able to take them on immediately, you will be at some point.
- Now and then, as you gain more experience and learn new skills, raise your prices. Never work for free or to gain exposure, it is rarely to never worth it.
- Say no to bad clients. If they won’t sign a contract, seem flakey or cancel calls, don’t get you what you need on time, or try to nickel and dime you (or straight up ask for significant discounts or free work), just say no. You’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and can spend that time looking for better clients.
- Pay your estimated taxes quarterly. You actually get penalized for only paying annually (in the US).
- Sales and freelancing are cyclical. There will be down months and up months. Maintaining a pipeline helps to mitigate that, but it will inevitably happen. Stay on top of marketing and remind yourself it is a cycle and will go back up.
What have you learned in your journey? I’d love to learn more from you!