Just getting started: five simple tips to help you survive the early days of freelance life.
When I first started freelancing and decided to set up my own small business Yellow Canary, I had no idea how complicated it would be. I naively thought that a few emails to friends and connections would be shortly followed by an onslaught of possible work. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The nature of the freelance beast is that when you need work, business is quiet and when you’re flat out like a lizard drinking, piles of new work opportunities are flooding in. Juggling this unpredictable pace can be extremely difficult to navigate.
Freelance life can be disheartening and exhausting, but you mustn’t give up. Growing anything from scratch takes commitment, passion and time. All of which you surely possess given you've decided to embark on this journey.
You’ll have leads that go nowhere, invest time into creative briefs that fall through and get weary of the administration. But, you’ll also have unlimited creative freedom and plenty of time to try it out. Don’t lose heart.
So, to help you out as you embark on this brave journey into freelance territory, I’ve listed five simple strategies to help get you started.
1. Use those first few months to actively grow your social media following-
Don’t underestimate the power of social media, especially when you’re embarking on a solo career. Build your social media platforms for your new business and start actively contributing posts and useful content. You’ll be amazed at the connections you’ll develop and the job opportunities that can follow. If you think that you can somehow dodge being on social media, you are significantly limiting your opportunities for growth.
2. Build your website (or hire someone like me to do it)-
A business cannot truly thrive without a website. It does not have to be a state-of-the-art website, but you do need to have some form of online presence. If you are not tech savvy, hire someone to put something relatively simple together, so that you can begin to build a marketing presence online.
3. Reach out to friends, old and new, and promote your new business-
Use your networks to reach out and promote your new business. There is no place for shyness in the freelance world, if you aren’t willing to promote you, then who will? Friendly emails to old friends and colleagues are a great way of promoting your new venture. Most small businesses come to life because a friend or a colleague gave them an opportunity to shine. Everybody starts somewhere, so don’t be afraid to spruik your work.
4. Use your down time to start working on material you can use later on-
In the days and weeks when things seem slow, put your skills to good use. If you write, start writing. If you’re a personal trainer, start producing video workouts. If you’re a gardener, start gardening. Use your spare days to build a content library of material that you can use on your social media platforms and website. Use these quieter days to start creating.
5. Invest in your business. A small amount of financial investment can get the ball rolling-
When business is quiet and things seem like they’re just not moving, it’s time to invest. I wouldn’t suggest spending thousands of dollars on advertising in the early days, but I would strongly suggest advertising on Facebook, Instagram and on your local community platforms. Advertising on social media platforms is cheap and effective and you have the added benefit of being able to target your advertising campaigns.
We're just getting started, so stay tuned for my next blog on freelance life.