AceFebruary 6th, 2009 at 12:04 pm
Maybe a stupid question, but how do you start your business?
Getting clients, …
And is it possible to “freelance” in a group?
Posted February 6, 2009 in Open Thread
Imagine there was an elite group of expert freelancers who knew just about all there is to know about freelancing, and could truthfully answer any question you put to them. Freelance business, specialties, trade, lifestyle — anything.
What would you ask if you knew you’d get an informed and truthful response? What is that one burning curiosity that you must have an answer to?
Leave your question in the comments, and feel free to respond to other questions if you know the answers. If we see a lot of repeated questions, there’s a good chance we’ll post an article about it in the future.
So, what’s the one freelance question you want answered?
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Maybe a stupid question, but how do you start your business?
Getting clients, …
And is it possible to “freelance” in a group?
Ace beat me to it!
When did you feel confident enough in your skills to start freelancing? and how did you build up your confidence and skills to get to that point?
I’ve been doing part-time freelance while working a full-time day job. I’d really like to take the plunge and just work full-time for myself but my main hesitation is finding affordable health insurance for my family. Suggestions?
What is the best/cheapest/easiest to use invoicing/accounting software (web based would get a big )?
What drives you? What is the highest purpose for which you do what you do? Money, God, world peace?
I’m sure this changes constantly, but my question is:
What is the no. 1 place (or resource) you go to for new clients?
@Ace, @Paul Best time to start is now (I learned this the hard way) No matter what you think of your skill set I can guarantee you that you a) know more than someone out there b) can do something for someone who doesn’t have the time to do it themselves
Freelancing in a group is not just possible but recommended. You can never do everything yourself. Concentrate on what you love to do, get others to do the rest.
My question; how to get your girlfriend/wife/husband/significant other to understand that working from home does not equate to doing the housework (in the nicest possible way!)
Alex Mandossian? Is that you?
…I’d ask what it took to go from $10-$50/hour to $200/hour – and if they were to start over again if they’d do it differently.
I would ask how they found clients early on. I’ve often heard that referrals are the best way to get clients, but before you can get referrals you need that first group of clients. What strategies did they use to find clients? If they networked, how did they go about it – did they research groups, or just go to everything? What else did they do to contact potential clients?
@gabe Billings for mac is great. Most freelancers start using Freshbooks but it gets expensive the more you use it.
@all starting out is difficult. I would normally suggest getting involved in the business community. Once you do a good job for a few well connected people you will be well on your way.
The other thing that you can do is become a part of an online community and become so knowledgeable that people start throwing business your way. This works in just about any community. Joomla, WordPress, Avactis, phpbb just pick one and specialize in it.
But my question is … once you get there now what? How do you scale? I have a lot of business but I am scared to hire additional people (I have one person that works contract part time for me). And how do you go about deciding on space. Is there a dollar of gross income a business needs before they should move out of the spare bedroom and into an office? What position should you fill first?
How do you stick to it day in and day out, not knowing if it will ever amount to anything? I guess it’s a confidence matter, but if I take the time to sit down and write daily, how can I justify not doing other things I need to do, when I’m not sure my writing will get me anywhere?
I’m a good writer, with lots of digital media clips, but no copywriting experience. I want to make copywriting samples and create a digital/print portfolio and website. What steps should I take? Is there a way to simplify the website part?
Hello and thanks for this opportunity!
I have a question that “bothers” me from a while. How should a team of 2 freelancers (a designer and a programmer) share the earnings? I know it depends from a project to another, but I am interested in the general case. How should a team share the earnings for (let’s say) a medium-sized project? For instance, let’s suppose that both of them are working for the same amount of time.
Any information or advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
@Marc..Good answer…@Chad, I think with time the price should rise. When I started 10 years ago, I couldn’t charge what I’m charging now, because I didn’t have enough experience nor the confident that I have now. I was happy to get my hands on anything.
My question would be: how many hours a week is considered normal? Is 80 to 90 hours considered too much?
I also have marketing questions, but a bit more specific.
What are the pros and cons (eg, time, efficiency, etc) of the different marketing techniques, such as mailng, emailing, calling, networking, linkedin, etc. What about nontraditional marketing such as blogs, facebook, twitter – are there examples of people who have used these techniques creativelly?
I mostly a coder and my design skills are lacking, my question is what is the best way of refining your design skills?
And, how do you stay on top of the latest and greats “tricks” ie JQuery, CSS, ect.
How do you avoid the constant urge to snack during work??
@patricia That is a tough one. The long and the short of it is that you can’t justify not doing what needs to be done. The best you can do is categorise your tasks into needs to be done and would like it to be done. The important part though is to break your needs to be done down into two categories:
Needs to be done immediately
Needs to be done but can wait (say 24 hours after which the task gets promoted a category).
Be prepared to put in extra hours in the evenings and weekends for your writing, but whatever you do don’t stop, chance favours the prepared mind or something like that :)
@JR Moreau: For a website I highly recommend buying a domain name, get a hosting package and install WordPress. If you go to Hostgator for your hosting I believe they have domain name registration services and even an automatic installer for WordPress. You can’t get much quicker than that without paying someone to do it for you.
As for copywriting Copyblogger.com has a great Copywriting 101 series.
@WebProWorker I haven’t got any specific advice here except this: make sure you and your partner have a signed contract or agreement in place clearly specifying the payment terms and who is entitled to what including who owns the design, re-sell rights etc.
You should make it clear what would happen if say the programmer took the design and used it on another client’s site or the designer took the programmers code for use elsewhere.
As with all things legal don’t rely on my advice, get a lawyer to help you.
@Reza The question you should ask yourself is if you are happy putting in that amount of hours. If not look for ways to cut back; outsource, increase rates etc
@Wolf Shadow, Different marketing techniques work for different people. One of the things I’ve picked up is to test, test, test. It’s probably the only way you’ll find what works for you. Personally I found mail shots and cold calling failed miserably for me.
On a more positive note networking is almost guaranteed to work as is blogging and twittering but only if you do it the right way. For an example check out @RichardINK on Twitter. He runs a successful pen making business and “gets” blogging and Twitter.
@Paul. First of all is design something you think you can get passionate about? I mean to the point where it’s not just a job. If not then forget about it now. Outsource your design needs, 99designs.com is probably the best place to start.
This is the one thing that struck me in Mason’s (and James’) book. You can not and should not try to do everything yourself. Stick with what you love to do, get others to do the rest.
Sorry to be so blunt but I am a coder by heart and I tried going the design/coder route and it didn’t work out.
If you do want to pursue it further then I recommend Sitepoint.com particularly their books on web design. As with any other skill though, if you want to refine it then practice makes perfect.
Again I recommend Sitepoint.com for staying up to date with the latest developments in web design and coding. Begin by subscribing to their blogs.
@Adam Do what most freelancers do. Put so much time into our work that we literally forget to eat :)
The one question I have been trying to get the answer to is when / how to say NO! I find myself overwhelmed with a lot of non-paying “projects” thinking they will lead to paying projects only to find these types of projects eat away at my time and don’t lead to any paid projects (as yet).
I’m working on an MFA in Creative Writing, but my school doesn’t offer any classes on freelancing (or getting a writing job either, for that matter). I guess we’re supposed to pick it up by osmosis, since all the instructors are published authors.
So, and this is sung to the tune of “Love Story”, “Where do I begin, to tell the story . . . ?”
I can get jobs writing articles for $1-$5 a pop but that won’t cut it. I can write an ebook (and I am, of course) and I can blog (and I am).
Maybe what I’m really asking is for the outline to a successful business plan for beginning freelance writers. Okay so it took me a minute to get to the point, sue me.
I’m going to throw down three questions: If you are uninsurable, what union is best for providing group health insurance benefits? Do you buy short term and long term disability too? Sole prop or S corp?
Like, who cuts your hair, man?
This is such an awesome opportunity to learn. Thank you!!!
@JR – I agree with Marc, that’s the approach I took. WordPress is pretty easy and has many plug-ins that will allow you to showcase your digital media clips.
@WebProWorker – When teaming up for a project it is very important to work together “behind the scenes.” You both calculate what your own part would cost and agree together on a final project price tag which you would then present to the client. If one of you takes the lead and handles the bulk of the project details, it’s customary to also recieve a bit higher for project management.
@Wolf Shadow – For the traditional marketing methods – cold calling, direct marketing, etc. – I highly recommend a book called “The Well Fed Writer” by Peter Bowerman. It was my main source of transitioning from an articles writer to a commercial writer. As for the social media methods and online networking – some of the best sources I have found are your professional blogger sites like copyblogger, problogger, etc. They are great sources for marketing aid. You might also want to check out blogs that specify in marketing and PR. Another great source are freelance and freelance writer blogs (like this one.)
@LizR – A good way to get name brand clients added to your portfolio is charities. Call up a few of your favorites and donate some freelance services. Having the big names on your resume goes a long way.
@Adam – Believe it or not, I found that what I wanted wasn’t actually a snack so much as a crunch. I started keeping crunchy vegetables on hand for that reason and it filled the craving. Apparently crunching helps me think – go figure.
What a great open thread!
I run a tutoring/educational program online and am trying to launch a freelancing writing business. I began to do serious cold-calling within the last few weeks and found myself in a rut as names and phone #’s began to pile up. What are effective methods that you use to keep track of contacts, clients, etc.? How do you effectively track cold calls and different responses? How do you keep track of those more serious “potential” clients, dates when you should touch base, etc.?
@IslandDesign – when you start saying NO people will start to respect you and begin to understand that your time is worth money. Trust me, saying NO is VERY liberating. Plus, you free yourself up to do paying gigs, and isn’t that what you want? Good luck!
What will you do when by sacrificing your employment job you proceed to freelancing but you failed from it?
I am new around here and I do have a question. Where do you meet other freelances?
@Vic To paraphrase Thomas Edison; you haven’t failed, you just found one way that didn’t work.
On a more practical note; identify where you went wrong and learn from it. If your finances are tight there’s no shame in getting a part or even full time job. Just don’t give up you’ve already made more progress than countless others.
What’s the best anti virus protection, should a back up pc be a must?
Or should u have insurance on your pc?
What if your pc crashed?
Great post like always….
So… I think I could ask:
- How can I trust myself enough to start a business alone? Are my skills enough? And if not, if I’m still learning everyday step-by-step something basic and different, can I be successfull one day with my own business?
- How can I obligate myself to make a lunch break?
- How can I convince people around me that I’m not “playing” in front of the computer all day long, that I’m REALLY WORKING and freelancing is not to be unemployed?
- How can I get more clients? (this one I know that freelance folder is always trying to answer :) and thanks for that!)
Thanks! Keep going! Good projects!
My question concerns the age of the freelancer.
I’m 22 years old and would like to be freelance after my 9-17h. But my question is : “Do you already have problems of consideration because of your age?”
Thanks for this great thread
@Isabel Great questions, many of which I’ve asked myself. Again I’d have to re-iterate by saying that if you have a skill that no-one else has then you already have enough to be successful
@Samuel I don’t care how old you are, if you can solve my problem I will hire you to do so.
@nikki – backup is one of the thinks why I would like to freelance.
I’ll advise you to make maximum of backup. On Mac Os you can use TimeMachine to keep a copy of all your data on a second hard disk. The ideal solution is to keep a copy in another room into your house. The reason is that fire in your office or a stolen computer cannot obliged you to stop your activity.
For small files (word documents, excel files,…), online storage can be a very good solution. http://www.getdropbox.com offers 2Go free storage, with an automatic sync tool.
@Marc, thank you for your words! Let’s see where will this bring me! I’m working hard to give my best. Normally people says that’s a very good beginning! :)
Related with the rest of my questions… I know they are related with the organisation of my own time and with my success (or not!)
@Samuel, thanks for the tip!
Wow, I’m really hijacking this thread lol, sorry Mason! :)
@nikki Backup is a must. The best anti-virus in the world won’t protect you from user error. Investigate Norton Ghost as a means to backing up your hard drive, you won’t go far wrong with that.
As for AV I always recommend AVG from Grisoft
@Isabel No problem. I still have trouble with time management and confidence myself :)
It’d be great to hear how different people approach presenting branding concepts to a client. I have my way of working, but it’s always good to hear about different approaches. Do you present colours and examples of the logo in context in the first round, or wait until it has been refined a bit? I find some clients need more context than others to appreciate a design.
Little late to the party. My number one question when I started was how to set myself up for success. I’ve tried to put some of the things I learned in the ebook on my site.
my only question is: how and/or where finding new clients?….that’s the problem! :(
I know I’m jumping on the bandwagon a little late here and I apologize if the question has already been asked but what suggestions can you give on naming your business? I’ve heard a lot of things saying how important it is to choose the perfect business name when just starting out. Any thoughts?
First of all, thanks for giving us this opportunity!
My question is: when should I incorporate or become an LLC? When do I know that I have outgrown being a sole proprietor? Is it a function of my income? If so what is the threshold?
Btw I bought the Unlimited Freelancer and like it very much. I am now seeing my freelancing in a whole new light. Thank you!
@Reza: If you can ask that question, you already know the answer; you just haven’t admitted it to yourself. Many folks say “knowing when to say ‘no’” is the hardest thing to learn; I wouldn’t disagree with that one bit.
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