I haven’t always worked for myself. After leaving my part-time job working in the print department of an office supply store I helped build a small collective team of freelancers. We were all new at working for ourselves, so we teamed up to pull in projects and to run the new business together.
After a year of working together, opportunities came up for some of the other team members, and as a result we had to go our separate ways. I was grateful to learn what I had in that year, but without much warning and now no team to depend on, I was left to pick up the pieces. From that point on I knew I had to become my own boss rather than go back to the dreaded retail job.
In order to pick myself back up, I had to be clear about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to get there. I had to start over.
Starting from scratch
I was no longer part of a team, so I had to set a foundation for my new freelance business.
How was I going to operate? Do I stay a jack of all trades or specialize in a niche market? Most importantly, where was I going to find new client work?
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty scared. I had no idea how to run a real business – I was just a guy who enjoyed designing and wanted to make a living out of it.
Still daunted by all of my unanswered questions and concerns, I took a deep breath and asked myself, what’s my next step?
Now that I was going to work for myself full-time as a freelance graphic designer, I had to get to know who I wanted to be as a business; so I wrote out a simple freelance business plan going over how I planned on operating as a business (self-employed vs. filing under a different business name), where I was going to find my work, how I was going to market myself, and what my long-term goals were with my new business.
Writing out my plans and goals was important, because it gave me something to work towards. I still had so much to figure out, but there was no time to waste since I didn’t have a lot of money coming in, so I kept my head up and learned as I went.
Rebranding my new freelance business
With my goals set, I needed to establish my new online presence. I was no longer just “Brent Galloway”, rather, I became “Brent Galloway – Freelance Graphic Designer”.
I designed my new logo, developed a color scheme, then built my new freelance website – geared around my business plan.
In a nutshell my site consisted of my homepage which leads visitors to where they need to go, a friendly about page with my photo, a new blog to generate traffic, an easy-to-view portfolio of my design work, and a simple contact page.
Keeping my specialty and ideal client work in mind, I tailored each page and its content with care. Only providing the necessary amount of content, strategically placing the right calls-to-action, and using keywords and key phrases throughout to better SEO.
Taking my freelance business to the next level
My business was planned, goals were set, and I had established my new brand. It was then time to officially get my new freelance business off the ground.
I created a spreadsheet with every possible connection I could reach out to for work. Past clients, my current connections, and a handful of small businesses that I had interest in working with. After sending out (personally written) emails to each potential client I was fortunate enough to land a few small projects. This helped get the ball rolling—With these projects it was then my goal to try and turn them into referrals.
Aside from personally reaching out to clients it was also a business strategy of mine to get my name out as much as possible, and I did this by being everywhere I could online.
Another big step I took in taking my freelance business to the next level was by diversifying my income. I didn’t want to solely rely on client work to make money, so I started blogging, I Kickstarted and produced my own products (read my experience with that here), and I even wrote a book on freelancing.
Nearly three years later after the initial rebrand of my freelance business and after many revisions along the way – here I am. It’s been a bumpy ride, but I still have so much to learn and so much I’d like to accomplish.
How’s business going for you?
Hopefully you were able to pick up a few insights in what I had to share in this post.
Now I want to hear from you: where are you at in your freelance career? Are you thinking about making the jump? Have you been freelancing for a while now? If so, how’s it going for you?
Share your story below, or if you’re interested in sharing your story and insights in detail, contribute a post to the freelance community!
Also, if there’s anything I can share in a future blog post let me know. I’m an open book!