Course Book (PDF FORMAT)
Table of Contents
Module 1 – Identify Your Niche and Target Audience. 11
Lesson 1: Choose a Freelance Niche. 12
Lesson 2: Define Your Target Audience. 17
Module 2 - Get a Handle on Your Finances 22
Lesson 1: Estimate Expenses and Establish Your Rate. 23
Lesson 2: Set Up Your Accounting System.. 27
Lesson 3: Set Specific Measurable Targets 29
Module 3 –Set Up Operations and Administration. 31
Lesson 1: Make It Official 32
Lesson 2: Take Care of Administration and Infrastructure. 35
Lesson 3: Choose Your Office Space. 40
Module 4 - Develop Your Freelance Brand. 42
Lesson 1: Draft Your Brand Blueprint 43
Lesson 2: Put Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) into Words 46
Lesson 3: Choose Your Business Name and URL. 48
Lesson 4: Create Your Visual Identity. 51
Module 5 - Market Your Freelance Business 54
Lesson 1: Develop Your Website. 55
Lesson 2: Create a High Impact Portfolio (or Testimonial Page) 59
Lesson 3: Build Your Social Media Presence. 62
Module 6 - Find and Convert Clients 65
Lesson 1: Reach out to Existing Contacts 66
Lesson 2: Join Professional Groups on Social Media and in Person. 69
Lesson 3: Reach Out to Potential Clients 72
Module 7 - Maintain Client Relationships 77
Module 8 – Review and Refine. 82
IntroductionB ecoming a freelancer is one of the easiest and fastest ways to start your own business. It’s simple, devoid of time-consuming managerial duties, and can even be done on the side with as little or as much time commitment as you want. That’s because a freelance business typically consists of one employee. You, the freelancer, are the product and provide the service. A freelancer offers unique skills and talents to individuals or companies in return for a fee, usually at an hourly, daily, or per-project rate. In addition, as a freelancer, you will usually work for multiple clients at a time.
This differs from a small business, where entrepreneurs will outsource production as soon as finances allow. For example, a designer who launches a boutique ad agency will initially do much of the creative work themselves, but once they have consistent work, will hire designers and copywriters, shifting their focus to ‘big picture’ creative concept development, marketing, and securing new clients. Small business owners and entrepreneurs shift to the CEO role as soon as possible.
Freelancers are just as professional as any business owner and they need to possess a CEO mindset, but they will continue to produce the bulk of the product themselves.
The Freelance Life: Pros and Cons
Freelancers Choose Who They Work WithOnce established, you will have the freedom to choose who you want to work with – and who you don’t. You will also have to ability to work on projects that are meaningful and turn down ones that conflict with your values.
No Office PoliticsYou don’t have to deal with the distractions that come with full-time employment, including irrelevant meetings, workplace training or teambuilding exercises, office politics, or lunchroom small talk.
FlexibilityOnce established, freelancers can work as much or as little as they want (within reason). So, if you want to reduce hours during the summer, you can. Or, if you prefer hitting the gym in the morning and tackling projects later in the day, you set your daily schedule. You can work from a coffee shop if you need a change of scene or take a nap if you feel drained.
VarietyFreelancers get to work with different clients, in different sectors and industries, on different projects. This is great for people who like variety, and it also gives them a wide range of valuable experience. You will build your portfolio quickly and demonstrate different capabilities versus working for one company on the same kinds of projects, year in and year out.
FreedomFreelancing allows you to escape the cubicle life. No more filling a seat for a set number of hours, regardless of whether you’ve completed all of your tasks for the day. A full-time job provides some security, but the trade-offs are huge.
So far, freelancing sounds exciting and liberating. And it is. But with freedom comes responsibility. When you have a full-time job, a lot of practicalities are taken care of for you: taxes are automatically deducted from your paycheck, you often receive health benefits/insurance, your schedule is pre-determined, and project responsibilities are clearly defined. When you are a freelancer, you are responsible for all of this and more.
TaxesWhen you are a full-time employee, your employer deducts taxes from your paycheck based on your annual salary. Unless you have worked overtime or received bonuses, your tax bill at the end of the year will be manageable and the final total shouldn’t be a complete surprise. When you are a freelancer, you are responsible for calculating and paying your income tax. And, depending on where you live and your income bracket, you may be responsible for collecting state/provincial/federal tax from your clients.
No BenefitsWhen you work for a company full-time, you often receive insurance and additional benefits. Freelancers are responsible for finding and paying for their own insurance and healthcare.
‘Feast or Famine’Freelance work can be unpredictable. One month you have too much on your plate and find yourself pulling all-nighters, and the next, your clients go silent. This can be stressful, especially if you don’t budget for the quiet times.
Self-PromotionWhen you are a freelancer, you need to consistently scan the horizon, looking for prospects and future clients. You also need to get comfortable with selling yourself.
Ultimate ResponsibilityAs a freelancer, you are ultimately responsible for your entire business: finding clients and managing them, overseeing your schedule and workload, billing and collecting payments, and more. You also need to purchase relevant software, develop your own marketing, and track payment and expenses.
The cons are real, but almost all can all be managed. With responsibility comes a feeling of achievement and independence. And for most people, the trade-offs are more than worth it.
Why Start a Freelance Business?Being a freelancer gives you freedom to design a lifestyle you love. There is more flexibility when it comes to your daily schedule, time off, work location, and the type of work you do. When you first start out, freelancing also gives you the option to keep your day job while testing the waters to see if a freelance career is a financially viable option for you.
Here is your roadmap through the course:
Learning Objectives:By the time you complete this course, you’ll be able to:
Identify your marketable skills, niche, and target audience that will enable you to build a successful and sustainable freelance business
Manage your freelance finances so you can establish a profitable freelance rate and set targets to measure your success
Set up the administrative and operational aspects of your business so that when you launch, you can focus on landing clients and delivering exceptional service
Define and articulate a personal brand that attracts your target audience and conveys a professional, authentic, trustworthy image
Develop your website, portfolio, and social media presence that will help you market yourself and your services to your target audience
Find and convert clients through the right channels that will grow your business and meet your financial targets
Cultivate client relationships while also setting boundaries and staying top of mind, so you get the most successful outcomes for you and your clients
Review your financial targets, client relationships, and client feedback, and then apply what you have learned to continuously grow your thriving freelance business
This course is broken down into 8 modules to take you step-by-step through the process of starting your own freelance business.
The modules follow a logical order, so while you can skip around if you want, it’s best to work through them one at a time.
Use your Action Guide to help you complete the Action Steps at the end of each module.
ExpectationsBefore we start the course, take a minute to think about what you want to get out of it.
In the Action Guide, write down three skills you expect to gain.
Now that you’re clear about what you want this course to deliver, we can get started.