Build a personal freelance practice

1. Identify your areas of expertise and marketable skills.

Begin with one or two areas in which you have the most experience. Establish yourself in the industry by focusing on a single offering before expanding to other services. For example, if you want to offer digital marketing services, identify whether you are more knowledgeable about SEO, CRO, brand building, or content.

2.  Research your industry to gather information on pricing trends, legal obligations, and your target audience.

Speak with people in the industry who do similar work, especially other freelancers and people in your network. Read recent blog posts and articles from industry leaders about the challenges and issues of freelancing. Join social media groups, networking groups, and associations that cater to freelancers in your chosen industry or location. For example, search Freelancer (in) on LinkedIn, or Women Who Freelance Toronto on Facebook. Post questions and monitor common issues or challenges posted by others.

3. Write a business plan that includes specific goals, product descriptions, pricing models, and buyer personas.

Questions your plan should answer: Do I want to charge an hourly or flat rate? What are my specific goals when it comes to revenue? What exactly is my product or service and is it different from competitors’? Who is my customer? What social media platforms do they use? How old are they? What is their budget?

4. Build a website with your portfolio and contact information.

Depending on your skill set, you can create a website from scratch, pay for this service, or use a website building tool like GoDaddy, PageCloud, or duda. Your website should contain samples of your work, testimonials, relevant experience, and a contact form, all with a clear structure and personal branding. If you don’t have any testimonials for your freelance work yet, consider pulling from other sources like LinkedIn recommendations or Facebook reviews. Your portfolio should be varied and include different examples to show your expertise. If you don’t have many portfolio items to include as a freelancer, look back to work completed as an employee, if you’re allowed to share without any legal infringement. You can also create new samples from hypothetical clients or projects to show off your skills.

5. Create social media profiles for your personal freelance practice. Use these as a base for branding, marketing, and networking activities.

Prioritize social channels that fit your buyer personas. If your buyer persona is an established businessperson 40-50 years old, Facebook or LinkedIn would be a better choice than Instagram, which typically attracts a younger audience. Ensure that your social media profiles are professional and clearly identify your brand. Link your profiles to your website to guide any potential leads away from the third party (social platform) and onto your home base (your website).

6. Network and connect with others in the industry through your online presence, industry events, and outreach.

Maintain an active presence with the groups and networks you identified in the research phase. You can find work on dedicated freelancer platforms like Upwork or a professional social media platform like LinkedIn. Use consistent branding and images across all your platforms and social media channels, and keep your contact info up-to-date in every location.

7. Share content on your website and relevant social media platforms to build authority in your industry.

Ensure that you’re producing a steady flow of content through blog posts, short-form articles, and social media posts. Volume is less important than consistency, so find a rhythm that works for you and stick to it. Examples of content to share: industry-relevant news stories videos and images interviews blog posts you’ve written curated articles from other sources.

8. Establish the scope of each project and set expectations in writing.

Maintain a proposal or contract template that can be adapted for new projects and clients. This should outline your process, payment structure, preferred communication methods, and any other details that will be important for the client to know throughout the project. Send your clients updates at regular intervals – daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the project – to keep everyone on the same page.

9. Adjust content marketing strategy, pricing, or other aspects of your business plan through personal brand audits.

Review what you’re doing to ensure that it is working. If your social media channel isn’t seeing engagement, you may need to change strategies, adjust your content, or consider paid advertising. Revisit your pricing structure regularly, especially in the early days. As you quickly gain new experiences and skills, or start to offer new products and services, you’ll want to ensure that your price is keeping up with these changes. Pay attention to your ongoing legal, financial, and tax obligations and ensure that you stay informed on how those differ for freelancers compared to employees.