You did it. You finally made the leap into “hanging your shingle” and serving clients as a freelancer. Kickstarting your freelance career takes guts, knowledge, and fortitude, and that’s just the start of the successful freelancer attribute list.
Here are 8 mindsets, practices, and systems that will help you kickstart your freelance career.
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1. Tame the Overwhelm
Even the most seasoned and savvy professionals can feel twinges of remorse (“Did I do the right thing?”) and waves of overwhelm (“There’s so much to do, and I’ve got to generate clients quickly!”) as a new freelancer.
When you feel your emotions start to pile up, (a totally human response, by the way), gather your tools for calm.
Now that you’re “free” of the office, the stressful schedule, and work you don’t love doing, you’ve got time to build in daily mental and emotional health breaks. Take more than a few deep breaths, get outside for a quick walk, or play music that either relaxes you or gets your creative juices flowing.
You’ll need these tools as you build your following and take on new projects.
2. Get a Mentor
“I love navigating huge change with no support or encouragement,” said no one ever. Find a few freelancers who have the type of lifestyle and business model you want. See if one of them might be willing to go to lunch or coffee with you a couple times each month.
Mentors aren’t like regular friends. They’re in your life to gently and kindly tell you what you need to hear about your new business, not what you want to hear. A mentor can give you accountability for your goals, and help you evaluate your progress (or lack thereof).
They can also help you strategize the next steps in your growth and development. A mentor’s time is incredibly valuable as you gain experience as a freelancer. If you click well, consider paying them for their involvement in your success.
3. Do it a Different Way
It’s tempting to take your corporate experience and try to replicate it as a freelancer. While doing what you know best can feel comfortable and safe, you left the corporate world for a reason.
As you launch your freelance business, think carefully about everything you disliked about your former corporate environment. Freelancing is your chance to makeover your work weeks according to your deepest desires.
Those desires should blend with your service delivery, marketing style, scheduling, and individual policies. Taking a deep dive to discover your most closely held personal and professional values will help guide your decision-making as a freelancer.
Once you’ve narrowed down your values to your top two or three, post them where you can see them every day. You’ll be reminded of why you chose this path, and how to proceed in your highest integrity as you grow your following.
4. Kickstart Your Freelance Career with Impeccable Systems
Many freelancers are understandably keen to get out and start serving new clients. In your newbie freelancer enthusiasm, it’s all too easy to put your systems on the backburner as you storm the market and build your clientele.
While yes, you need paying clients to make your venture viable, you’ll need to spend equal time building a solid business foundation. With a small amount of proactive systems launch, you’ll give yourself the sustainability you’ll need as you gain more clients.
“Future You” will thank “Now You” for ensuring that you don’t have too many plates spinning in the air to handle well down the road.
5. Establish Your Payment Portal(s)
Successful freelancers need to get paid. It’s loads of fun to choose your business name, company stationery, and business cards. You must also have a way for your clients to pay you for your services.
You must decide from the beginning whether you’ll accept credit and debit cards (which could mean paying merchant and transaction fees, so beware). You can choose to accept checks, or use your bookkeeping software to process ACH transactions from your clients’ bank accounts.
Many freelancers use platforms like PayPal or Venmo to send and receive payments as well.
It’s essential to define the payment portals that keep you organized and enable you to receive money with little hassle or delay. Having a money system you love and can rely upon is a first step to success as a freelancer.
6. Determine How You’ll Connect with Potential Clients
If you plan to launch a website and you want prospective clients to get on your appointment calendar, point all your digital channels to that site. In other words, it should be super easy for your customers to find out more about you and request a call.
DIY website platforms like Wix offer one-stop organizational tools like appointment calendars, service descriptions, and payment portals. Every article, social post, email, and other marketing effort should include your scheduling portal link as part of your call to action.
Further, sites like Fiverr freelance business platform can help you connect with your desired clients in a snap.
7. See the Long Run
For most people, the first year of freelancing is filled with uncertainty. The program at Voyageur U significantly decreases that uncertainty — and shortens the length of time you’ll feel like you’re floundering.
No matter how long it takes your business to get rolling, remember that you’ll have just as many triumphant days as traumatic ones. Remind yourself that you have the skills, vision, and ability to meet each freelancing challenge that comes your way.
Remember that though you’re independent, you don’t ever have to be alone. Stay the course: be a humble learner as well as an expert, and the long-term stability will come sooner than you think.
8. Have a Few Experts in Your Corner
Voyageur U exists to be THE professional resource for freelancers, no matter how long you’ve been out on your own. Our online lessons guide everything from choosing the right attorney to building a website that attracts clients, to curating healthcare plans.
We give you more than a leg up as a freelancer at Voyageur U. Visit our website to join as a member, and start feeling supported and equipped to bring the value of your experience and expertise to all the people who need it most.