Over the years, cracks in the traditional employment model have become steadily more apparent, and the widespread repercussions of COVID-19 shattered them all together. Was it swiftly glued back together and put back into service with a promise that such an event wouldn’t happen again? Of course — but no one believed it. Within weeks, it had become clear that the days of lifetime employment were gone. Employees were (and would stay) on thin ice.
This swiftly led to a major change in attitude. Professionals who’d previously left administrative tasks to their employers lost trust in that approach. The world of self-employment seemed more alluring than ever before. No more leaving your fate entirely in the hands of a capricious manager, settling for the scraps of work fed to you. The future was in self-determination.
And so it is that people everywhere have whipped up freelance operations, hoping to become self-sufficient so they could give up their 9-to-5s and prioritize their self-care. Not everyone's freelance career has gone smoothly, of course (it isn’t easy to run even a small-scale operation), but others have shown the potential to turn their freelance services into full-scale businesses. But potential isn’t enough: it’s also vital to use the right tools.
So, how can an ambitious freelancer turn their gigs into something larger and more sustaining?
*EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog is a guest submission from a member of our creative community. Thank you to Stevie Nicks for working with the Artisan Talent team to develop this content.
You've of course heard “fake it until you make it”, and so it is that the first thing a budding business needs — before the broader foundation is in place — is a brand that comes across as comprehensive and professional. A freelancer doesn’t generally need a color scheme or a set of brand guidelines, but a full company does. Without adequate branding, it’s hard to get people to take a fledgling business seriously, and Canva can help.
Building a strong social presence with a cohesive brand is tricky, no matter whether or not you’re not an experienced graphic designer. Do you pay to have graphics and branding outsourced despite your inevitable budget limitations? With Canva, you can create your own graphics by drawing upon numerous guides, templates, and library resources.
Once you’ve grown your business to a certain level, you can start to think about hiring a full-time graphic designer (or establishing a lasting relationship with a competent freelancer), but this is the right way to go until you’ve built up your savings. Overhaul the look of your business, and you’ll make much stronger first impressions.
When you’re freelancing, you can typically afford to take your time on a given proposal, but that time dries up when you’re making it a full-time endeavor. You’ll need an effective lead pipeline for your newly-grown business, though — so how can you achieve a strong conversion rate without spending countless hours poring over documents? The answer is to use a tool for creating excellent proposals using templates and reusable snippets.
Proposify is the industry-leading proposal creator, offering an intuitive interface, excellent customization options, convenient analytics (allowing you to gauge the performance of your proposals, something that’s essential for iterative improvement), and a range of integrations that makes it perfect for the kind of automated workflows that are so good for saving time.
The company also offers excellent training resources, something that can help you enormously if you’re just at the start of your entrepreneurial journey and don’t yet have a lot of confidence when formulating pitches.
The more you grow your company, the more important it becomes to line up additional revenue streams to prevent reliance on a given project or client. Work can dry up very quickly if your focus is too narrow, after all: this became abundantly clear during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when countless businesses veered off track. So what else can you do to make money without needing to invest too much time or effort?
Well, consider the rise of online course platforms. It’s become incredibly common for people to learn through the internet, whether they’re proceeding through formal education or trying to bolster their skills for their careers, and there’s a remarkable amount of money to be made through offering monetized training resources. If you can use what you’ve learned from freelancing to build some high-quality articles and tutorials, you can start selling them, and Thinkific should likely be your learning platform of choice.
Why? Among other things, because it doesn’t charge transaction fees. Ever. Whether you use the free plan or choose to pay for additional features, the only transaction fees you’ll need to pay will be through your payment processor (often PayPal).
Perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle in building a full business is handling finances. Once again, we’re looking at something that you can get away with handling manually (and somewhat sloppily) while you’re operating on a small scale, but can’t realistically manage once you’ve picked up a few additional clients. You need software in place to help you organize everything, and Freshbooks makes for an excellent choice.
Freshbooks was designed to empower small business owners by offering easy-to-use accounting tools that are powerful enough to support enterprise-level arrangements. It makes it simple to produce and send invoices, securely accept and make payments, track your business spending, and even log the time put towards particular tasks to make your life easier.
It isn’t the only tool of its kind, of course, but it’s a fantastic place to start. For a low-end tier, you’ll pay significantly less per month than you would for a typical media-streaming service, so it’s highly affordable. Give it a try.
Need help finding freelance gigs? We can help.
About the Author: Stevie Nicks is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine — a website that covers the topics you care about from travel and trends to work and money. When he's not writing articles, Stevie can be found on the sofa with a book in hand or catching up on the latest Netflix series.
Interested in guest blogging with Artisan Talent? Reach out to our content team at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Guest Blogging."