Self Employment 101: 5 Business Essentials

Start your business off right with our top 5 tips for new freelancers!

Congrats! You’ve finally shed the confines of traditional 9-5 corporate living and have decided to embark on your own occupational journey as a freelancer. Being a freelancer opens up a whole new world of opportunity for you, both personally and professionally, as it allows you to control your hours, set your schedule, and do the work you love to do.

But, as a new freelancer, it can be tricky to navigate the world of owning a business, working through the murky tax code, and getting ourself organized. That’s where we come in.

Whether you’re new to the world of self employment or you’ve been living large in the gig economy for some time, we’ve got our top ten five to make the most out of your freelance business right here:

1. Brand Yourself

Now that you’re on your own, you need to market yourself and your skills. Why should a potential client hire you over the hundreds, if not thousands, of other freelancers in your industry?

As a freelancer, you are your own company, so how are you going to make yourself shine? Self employed business owners are solely responsible for turning themselves into a trustworthy brand, so it’s time to get your name out there.

First things first, you need to figure out precise what you offer to clients that they can’t get anywhere else. Then, you need to determine how you’re going to express this to the world. What’s your tagline? What makes you amazing?

2. Start a Digital Presence

These days, you’d be hard-pressed to run a profitable new business without some sort of online presence. Whether it’s a formal website or a collection of social media profiles, you need to find a way to get the word out about what you can do.

If you’re not technologically savvy, this news might make you feel a bit queasy. The good news? You don’t need to be a prolific coder to get out and create a stunning website that attracts prospective clients.

Thanks to the plethora of different website building platforms and tools out there, it’s totally possible to create a beautiful online presence with minimal effort or background knowledge.

Still not certain about your ability to create a quality website? There are plenty of people out there that can help. Hire a fellow freelancer or a website development firm to make your online presence positively pop off the screen.

3. Be Your Own Accountant

Small business owners (yes, that’s you!) need to track their own revenues and expenses, so you’ll need a system in place to make that happen. While some people try to put off this “formal accounting” for as long as possible when starting out in the freelance game, there’s nothing worse than creating your own financial mess that you’ll then have to sort out come tax time.

Our advice? Get started on your own accounting, right away. Whether you’re bringing in $10 a week or $1000 a day, everyone needs to be on top of their finances.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to go out and hire a professional accountant to keep track of your cash flow. While this is certainly an option (and perhaps the best choice for some folks), many freelancers can and do manage their own finances with the help of accounting software like Quickbooks Self Employed.

Check out our top software choices for freelancers here!

4. Organize Your Portfolio

Unless you’re already a bigwig in your industry, no one in their right mind will hire you just because you say you’re an expert. You need to prove it.

The best way to strut your stuff in the freelance world is to create a portfolio that displays all of your finest work in one place. Of course, this is easier for those of us who operate in fields such as photography, design, and writing, but it’s certainly possible for folks in other industries.

Often, your website is the best place to display your portfolio, though you may find that you want to create a number of smaller portfolios to encourage people to learn more about you. Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms are a great way to create “mini portfolios” that link back to your website and contact information.

5. Get Clients

As a new freelancer, clients won’t just come to you. Almost always, freelancers start our their self employed life by applying to a seemingly endless series of jobs, hoping that, one day, someone will bite.

While this might sound mildly demoralizing, it’s just how things work in the current gig economy. The secret to success? Learn how to distinguish yourself from the rest and never stop trying. After that 100th application with no callbacks, it may seem like all hope is lost, but you have to persevere.

Depending on your industry and specialization, you might have luck with certain platforms, such as Upwork, that cater specifically to clients looking for freelancers to work long-term and short-term gigs. Others might find that networking through LinkedIn or word of mouth is more prosperous in the end.

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