The Newbie Freelancer’s Getting Started Checklist


Thinking of starting a freelance career? Here’s everything you need to know in the ultimate newbie freelancer’s getting started checklist

Starting as a freelancer is an exciting time. You’ll have the opportunity to take control over your career and open the door to new projects and income possibilities.

However, to be successful as a newbie freelancer, you need structure and planning. You’re making the transition from being an employee to running a business, even if that business is just yourself. Use this newbie freelancer’s getting started checklist to guide the process and set yourself up for success.

Create a Detailed Plan of Attack

Even though your freelancing business is just you sitting at a desk, you should take the time to create a plan of attack. Clarifying your business strategy and setting revenue and action goals can help you kickstart your business into gear.

Your Business Plan

A business plan will be the foundation of your freelancing career. While many freelancers become successful without a business plan, it’s a powerful document that can help you stay on course.

A business plan should outline everything from the services you’ll be offering to your financial requirements. If you need to invest in some automation tools and a new laptop then should be a consideration, those purchases should be outlined in your plan.

Working through your business plan is also an exploration of the marketplace. This exercise encourages you to take a look at the competition and your potential clients to get a better idea of the opportunity.

Identifying Your Niche

Even if you decide to skip the more extensive business plan process, it’s integral that you identify your niche. During this exercise, you’ll identify your ideal customer, which will shape your approach to freelancing. Consider some of these questions when identifying your niche:

● What skills or experience do you currently have?

● What topic interests you?

● Are you targeting a general blogging audience or a B2B content audience?

● If you’re targeting business audiences, what size and business format make up your ideal client?

● Are there specific demographics to keep in mind (i.e., women-owned businesses)?

Look at a few sites or businesses that inspire you and would be your dream project. Write down what you like about them, from their tone to their area of expertise. Niching down to create an ideal client profile will help you shape your tone and branding.

Building a Brand Identity

Your brand is about more than colors and logos— it’s about how you connect with potential clients. Your brand identity is the aspect of your overall brand that pertains to imagery. Work with a designer to create a basic brand identity by which contacts will recognize you. Consider colors and typography that appeal to your niche, rather than just what you like.

Set Up Your Banking

One of the biggest challenges many entrepreneurs and freelancers face is banking and money management. It may not seem like a big deal in the early days, but separating personal and business finances are essential for long-term success. Additionally, that layer of separation assists with tax preparation and audit prevention.

Choosing a Banking Service

Ideally, you’ll want to choose a banking provider that has experience with entrepreneurs and freelancers. As a freelancer, you’ll have nuanced needs when it comes to billing and mobility. Look to a provider like that can help you navigate this process.

Tax Preparation and Submission

Tracking your expenses and income as the year goes on is a must for freelancers. Getting audited can derail your business and cause lasting issues. Plan to set aside time each month to organize your paperwork. Consider working with an accountant to help ensure you’re claiming everything you can. Pro tip: hiring an accountant is a claimable tax expense.

Create an Online Presence

Having an online presence is a quintessential aspect of being a freelancer. It’s how you build a reputation and gain social proof while networking to find clients. There are two aspects to building an online presence: a website and social media.

Building a Website

Having a website is a must for the modern freelancer. It’s a fantastic place to showcase your samples, post content, and build trust with potential clients.

Building a website can be a time-consuming process. Keep it simple with a one-pager that shows your best work, your bio, and an easy way to get in contact.

Setting Up Social Media

Being active on social media will help you expand your reach and take advantage of the online network. When setting up social media profiles, the goal is to create consistency across all platforms. Use the same profile photo so that your audience knows that they’ve found the right place.

You can use social media to share your own content and curated content to position yourself as an expert in your industry.

Build a Portfolio

When potential clients are looking for a freelancer, they’ll want to review samples of your work. For new freelancers, finding samples can be a challenge.

Collecting Samples

Start by creating articles in word documents to showcase your skills. You can use unpublished samples to reach out to a few unpaid publications in your niche to get a foothold. Once you have published pieces, you can link to these rather than using unpublished attachments.

Showcasing Your Best Work

As you continue to build a portfolio and build out your samples, you can start to be selective in what pieces you showcase. Rather than proving that you have published works, your goal will be to highlight your best pieces— the ones that sell your skills.

The Freelancer Resume

Some clients will ask for a resume outlining your skills and experience. As such, it’s worth having a basic document that you can use as a template for these situations. A freelancer resume should outline your previous experience, relevant skills, and links to your best work.

Create a Pitch List

Setting revenue goals is an important part of the freelancing process. However, you need to have a process for accomplishing those goals. The solution is drafting a pitch list.

Write a list of potential clients that you want to reach out to. Set a daily target and start making contact. This pitch list could include cold-calling, applying to posted gigs, or a combination of each. Create a pitching template to help expedite the process, tweaking it as needed.

Don’t forget to set a date each week to follow up. Sometimes it’s the enthusiasm and determination that set you apart from the competition in the eyes of an editor or hiring manager.

Use this list to launch your freelancing business, and you’ll be welcoming paying clients in no time!

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