Whether you’ve recently been made redundant, are in between jobs or simply feel like a change, there are many reasons why you may suddenly decide that freelancing may be for you.
If you’re unemployed, looking for work can be quite a task. Applying for jobs around the clock and hoping that someone happens to hire you can be tedious and a little bit of a let down at times. As well as that, waiting for a new job opportunity to come along means that you may struggle to find a steady source of income. Thankfully, freelancing may ease the burden a little and mean that you will have some sort of financial income while you’re job searching!
Knowing where to start however can be a little confusing, especially when you’re not used to working for yourself. Fear not though,we’re here to give you some basic advice on how to start freelancing. It can be extremely beneficial, and who knows, you may like it so much that you’ll end up working for yourself for good!
Freelancers tend to work entirely independently. Unlike most jobs, they do not undertake a steady workload and instead work as it comes. They work for themselves and simply offer their services for a fee. Although work isn’t always constant, it allows someone to work on their own terms and for themselves. A lot of the time, freelancing can lead onto self-employment once someone finds that they enjoy the nature of the work. Before you get started though, there are a few things you’ll need to think about.
Pick a Speciality
Deciding what you want to do is your first port of call. It may seem like the easiest task, but it can be quite difficult. A lot of people tend to underestimate themselves and their abilities, but nowadays a lot of different things can be outsourced. Just because you don’t have an impressive CV that’s filled with experience doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have skills that can be useful to you.
Don’t be alarmed by how daunting this task may be and don’t let it put you off. It may require some brainstorming but putting pen to paper and outlining what skills you have to offer will help you figure out what service you want to offer.
Create a Brand
Freelancing has such a broad spectrum, you can offer almost anything within reason as long as you have the right skills and know what you’re doing. It goes without saying, then that in order to make an impact you need to think very carefully about what direction you want to go in. Think of what it is that you want to offer and then do your best to create a brand around it. In doing this you must make sure that your brand is original, creative and is unlike anything else. You want potential customers to believe that you can offer them something special, something that no other freelancer can.
Solid branding will mean that you are more likely to succeed and you will appeal to the masses a lot more. Make sure that you think carefully about it, because your brand is your identity; it is something that you will be stuck with throughout your freelancing career so you want it to be something that effectively represents you and what you do in a unique way that will appeal to potential customers.
Create a Portfolio
Creating a brand and knowing what you want to offer is great, but none of that is going to matter if potential customers don’t have a clue what you can do. Listing your skills and telling people about them is great, but unless you can present examples or evidence of said skills, customers will not be able to trust your capabilities or judgement. They need a lot more than word to go on if they are interested in paying you for your services, so it is important to compile a portfolio of your work so that you can show them what it is that you do. That way, they can make their own judgement call and if they like what they see, they’ll pay you!
It’s also a good opportunity to define your style, get to grips with what direction you're headed in and most importantly, to show off! Are you proud of what you can do? Do you think that there’s nobody else out there who can do it as good as you can? Make a statement with your portfolio and let people know what you’re all about.
Do Your Research
Once you know what you want to do, you need to know as much as you can about that particular topic. Having a brand means that you can also effectively create your own network by contacting friends or previous colleagues to help you out or offer your services. This will also allow you to get to know more about what the market needs. As well as this, it is important to know your competition. Knowing who else is out there will help you define your brand and ensure that what you offer is completely different, unique and beneficial to those who may be interested in your services. Browse online to find out where it is you fall in the market and what you can do to strengthen your online presence. Social media is always a good place to start. Take a look at how Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be useful to you in building a freelancing career.
Make A Plan
Once you delve into the world of freelancing, it is important to remember that you are now working for yourself. You don’t have anyone to answer to but yourself. This can be fantastic and a great change of pace for someone who is used to working a 9 to 5. However, you are no longer working for a company - you are the company. This means that all of the responsibility falls on you and you must remain one step ahead of yourself at all times. You need to be constantly aware of when and where you work is coming from. Therefore, it is important to make a plan and stick to it. You need to make sure that the work keeps coming and you know what’s coming up with plenty of time to spare.
In essence, Freelancing isn’t for everyone, but if you do decide that it is for you it can be very rewarding work. You get to work for yourself and live your working life how you want. It can be a hefty task, but when you take a step back, think logically about the process and plan ahead anything is possible.
The first few months of freelance work can be sluggish and uneventful, but if you are able to create a solid brand which has something special to offer you will soon get into the swing of things and see a difference.
If you’re interested in freelancing we hope this was of help to you, but perhaps you’re already enjoying the life of a freelancer and have some more advice? Don’t be afraid to let us know! Happy branding!
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.