It may feel daunting to launch your freelance business from scratch, so here we get right into the setting up process. For the uninitiated, there can be numerous hurdles to overcome on the way to having a successful freelancing career. As a freelancer myself, I lived some of these hurdles firsthand. My working knowledge is summed up in “How to Start a Freelance Business in Australia”.
What is it? Freelancing typically refers to copywriters, designers, programmers and so on, providing a business service. Freelancers offer their services to clients without a long-term commitment to them. They charge by the hour, day or job (fixed fee) and are usually soloists. (They may opt to outsource tasks they don’t specialise in, under one project fee).
Reaching out to a community of freelance professionals certainly helps get you started in the right direction. The way I did this was to hang out on FlyingSolo forums, keeping an eye on the “referral/recommendations” section, in case people are looking for my type of service. Sometimes giving your support freely to other freelancers can lead to other opportunities as well. Australian creatives, see The Freelance Collective for this.
There is also a lively community of home-based VAs in Australia, whom you can utilise or refer clients to when getting work outside of what you do. See Virtual Assistant Network.
And if you’re in America, you might like Joe Neckelius’ article on How to Start Freelancing because it has a lot of cool statistics around freelancing.
Step 1: Decide on a Name
Well, the first thing to do is decide on a brand for yourself. Whether it’s your name + your service, or a completely new name, you will need a business identity to work under.
Along with your new name you will naturally need a logo, business cards and a website. Remember, you are now a business and so all your marketing materials need to be polished. Will the new name be a good fit for a domain name? Too long and you run the risk of a terribly long URL. Too complex and people will forget it.
Power of Words suited me because it sums up my area, everything to do with writing. As well as that, I got married, moved states and didn’t need to change my business name.
I registered my business name with ASIC early on in the process and only then got a domain name. The earlier you get your domain and website up, the better really. But not before you register your name officially. It’s also an idea to grab ‘your-own-name.com.au’ domain for a blog, if you like teaching others.
Also take a look at IP Australia and do a search to make sure there are no word patents on your desired namesake.
Step 2: Get your Professional Brand Designed
A polished logo will be a long-term asset, so try to find a good designer by recommendation. If you start with one you can also use for print, you won’t be caught with a low res file that is not suitable when you decide to advertise in print form.
The other identity items in your kit might include:
- a Facebook banner – for your Facebook page
- a Youtube channel banner, if you plan on video-making
- a fully-designed, partly pre-written proposal template
- a letterhead and invoice template. (The SAAS apps, Harvest or Brainleaf, allow you to upload your logo and just get on with it!)
- a slogan that goes on your website.
Step 3: Set up a branded website which shows no advertising
A dedicated website shows prospects that you are serious about your business – that you believe in yourself as a viable resource. A website adds legitimacy to your freelance work; without it prospects may turn away, scared you may be another scam artist. If people can remember your brand name, a full website makes it easier for would-be clients to find you on the web.
It’s also a top idea to set up your email on the host, so that it is an easy and professional-sounding address, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org (this is not real!).
Key pieces of information that must be on your website include:
- An introduction to you and your point of difference – without going into detail here
- Your services, spelled out in full
- Portfolio – where you list examples of your previous work
- Testimonials – these can be copied over from your recent projects even if that project was pro bono
- Contact details, including phone number, general location, and email me form.
SEO for Pro Freelancers
You may wish to make more of your site over time and work on search engine optimisation. This can be as simple as knowing the search strings people put in, usually services and in what locations, and putting up pages or posts with a sensible number of keywords to match these search words.
I optimised my name site for ‘book publishing coach’ and ‘book editor’, also at some point for ‘self-publishing help’. What niche can you optimise your website for?
Step 4: Where will you find work?
Avoid many of the bidding sites and try your local country’s freelancing project sites. Before signing up, note what pricing the projects are going for, and if that is in your intended price range.
The Best Australian Freelance Project Sites
Australia’s freelancing sites include:
AustralianInFront – some creative jobs, not many of them freelance
The Freelance Collective – full membership is $15/mth (tried this one, okay)
The Loop – Gigs: https://www.theloop.com.au/gigs
Mumbrella — look for the orange ‘freelance’ titles. They are rare.
Ozlance.com.au – project bids — not great
Pedestrian TV (film, radio, TV) – look under casual jobs
ProBlogger.com — worldwide job portal for commercial writers
www.artshub.com.au/Arts-Jobs (paid members portal)
Also see Top 10 Freelance Websites and Their Fees.
Leave no stone unturned in your first freelance project search! Check with your LinkedIn connections who might be in the servicing industry. Update them on your freelance skills, add a Behance portfolio perhaps, and ask for a recommendation from those who have utilised your talents before. Give them an endorsement too.
Well, I hope that this Getting Started as a Freelancer article has helped you to get cranking with work on your new plans for a freelance life.
In part 2, we’ll cover payment terms, service agreements, expenses, deposits, and some other legal issues that will save you some pain later on.
How to Start a Freelance Business in Australia is a short book, available here by order or in book retailers (Amazon, Booktopia, etc).