Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to launch your own freelance business. But there are certain things you must do to set yourself up as a credible professional. Take the time to make these materials stellar, and you’ll maximize their benefit for you.
I’ve already gotten started on these for my own freelance business, and I intend to continue working on them as a continuous effort to always be honing my business skills (which are simply not as sharp as my writing skills).
Here are the four necessary basics you need to launch your freelance business (and good news, they’re all free):
1. Clearly defined niche
It’s not enough to be a “writer.” By selecting a more specific niche, you actually increase your opportunities by making yourself more competitive within certain specialties. To find your niche, find the cross-section between what you enjoy and what you have experience in. My niche is content marketing, with an emphasis in blogs, newsletters, and web articles.
Your website is your online “open for business” sign—without it, no one will know to walk in your “shop.” It should include a description of your niche and services, an “about” page, a professional looking headshot, and easy-to-find contact information.
You can create yours for free using wordpress and other similar services (that’s what I did). But let’s be honest—nothing says “serious professional” like your own URL, sans the “.wordpress.com” tag.
It’s a small cost to purchase a URL, too, so it’s worth the investment—it’s the number one item on my list for upgrades to make as my client pay comes in.
Your clips are one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. They prove you’ve got the chops to back up your pitches, and give potential clients a sense of your abilities and style.
There are lots of ways to share your portfolio—I’ve been showcasing some work on Updesk and Contently so far, and always include a relevant work sample when I pitch for a gig. Some freelancers put their portfolio on their websites and some don’t. It’s something I plan to experiment with in the near future.
If you don’t have work samples for your portfolio, there’s plenty of ways to get them, including volunteering your services, asking friends and family, and more.
That stands for letter of introduction. It’s your first contact when approaching a new potential client that has not solicited applications for a gig.
It’s never a good idea to push out the same form letter to all your prospects, but a basic template can help save you some time and make customizing each pitch much easier. And because a lot of the content in an LOI is similar to a pitch email, you can use it as a base to build from for other business outreach, too.
Now let’s get to it
And that’s it. With these four items in your toolbox, you’re ready to get down to business.
Of course, bear in mind that these are truly the basics to get up and running. My business plan includes a list of things to invest in as the budget is available, such as business cards and a subscription to Writer’s Market. But you can start earning without spending a penny. So no more excuses—let’s get started.