This is a guest post by PandaDoc.
Greetings from my lunch break!
I’m scrolling through LinkedIn, checking up on old friends from college, seeing what my new contacts are up to this week, and noticed something interesting. Call it a trend, call it a generational shift, call it being tired of commuting an hour to an office only to Slack the person next to you, but almost every title I saw included “consultant” or “freelancer” or “marketing ninja for hire”. Believe it or not, but 35% of the US workforce is now freelancing; that’s 10 million more people in the gig economy than just 5 years ago.
Me personally, I love a work-from-home day here and there. Being a one-woman show day after day? Not so much.
While shifting to full-time freelance work isn’t on my horizon, it might be on yours. If that’s the case, it’s critical that your decision to support yourself be well informed. What’s more, you’ll have a huge leg-up if you know which tools you’ll need to be successful whether you’re freelancing from a co-working space, across the world, or in your pajamas, listening to Bob Seger in your living room.
To Freelance Or Not to Freelance
That is the question. To ask yourself before joining the 57 million Americans in the freelance workforce. Other questions to ask yourself are, “Will I miss coming into an office every day?” and “Am I prepared to invest time and money into myself?” Joining the ever-growing freelance community means having the freedom to set your own working hours and the flexibility to work from wherever you’d like.
Remember: it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Opt to dip a toe instead of dunking your head. Start out with a side gig that’ll allow you to test the waters of freelancing part-time. You’ll learn the landscape of the field you’re pursuing and the competitors and challenges you may face, all without risking your primary source of income. In fact, you’ll end up supplementing your income with the extra cash you make, and it’s never too early to start building a nest egg to crack open when and if you go full-time.
You are Your Brand
While it might take you a minute to start raking in the cash with your freelance gig, if you already have the professional skills and equipment you’ll need, you can start engaging with potential clients right away.
Where does one find their first client, you ask?
Social media is a good place to start. No, not your personal Instagram that has a thousand pictures of your cat and highlighted stories of wild Friday night’s past. While authenticity is a key building block to developing a social presence, your content should be professional and largely tailored to your audience.
Who are you? Why should they choose you to perform a service for them? What sets you apart?
Once you’ve grown a solid social media following and are looking to create business cards, marketing collateral, and a professional website, keep in mind: consistency is key. From the tone of your emails to the shade of blue in your business cards, a strong thread of uniformity running through all of your business assets will present a professional image to your clientele.
Find Client, Keep Client, Dazzle Client
According to Fast Company, freelancers spend 50% of their time prospecting, marketing, and performing the administrative tasks necessary to grow their business. While you’ll want to keep a hand in the prospecting and marketing departments of your freelance business, whether you're a freelance writer or graphic designer, feel free to automate those admin tasks. Don't forget; you're your own boss now. This Zoho integration will help you do just that. You’ll free up time to spend polishing your professional skills, easily create, send, and track documents, and automate data entry tasks.
Once you lock down your first client, dazzle them with a customized contract. Even if your mind is all over the place, you can at least look like you’ve got it all together when you add error-free pricing tables, easy to use eSignature blocks, and incorporate payment gateways within your doc to make it easy for customers to check out, and for you to get paid.
If you’re still a nervous Nelly about your future freelance job, you’re in good company. But with so many Americans making the shift to freelancing, there are plenty of contacts with whom to voice your concerns about your new health insurance options and ask questions about setting an appropriate hourly rate. There are also plenty of marketing tools, ones you use every day, that will allow you to marry your personality with your professional presence as a freelancer. And don’t forget, Zoho is here to provide integrations that make the tough business owner stuff easy as pie.
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Author: Emily Roberts
Emily Roberts is a Content Associate at PandaDoc. If she's not busy creating content in the office, she’s getting creative in the kitchen (with some red wine) to the sound of a true crime podcast.