What are you waiting for? Stop holding yourself back from following your dream. Start today even with a shoestring budget.
I think we hold ourselves back from following our dreams out of fear, lack of knowledge and support. The times are changing and I’m seeing more and more of my friends starting to follow their passions. I’m so happy for them and I want you to follow your passions and be happy too. So I have put together 10 tips for those of your who are looking to start freelancing now. These tips are geared towards web/graphics designers but I’m sure that you can find a way to adapt some for any type of freelance business.
10 Ways to Start your Freelance Web or Graphic Design Business for under $100
1. Get your portfolio together
Not only do you need a printed portfolio, you need to have present online. For your printed portfolio you can get a very nice case from an art supply store such as Pearl Paint. When it comes to printing it out, I have found FedEx Office (Kinkos) to be pretty good. You need to discuss with them the type of paper to use. Avoid your regular printing paper. If you want to print at home invest in HammerMill Color Copy Printing Paper. At me old job we refer to this as “the good paper”. It’s heavier than your typical printing paper and will make your graphics look really good. Once you have your printed portfolio, start working on your online portfolio website. You are going to want to purchase your domain name and hosting. If you can get yourname.com so when some one Google your name that would be the first thing that comes up. you can do this for as little as $7 a month ($84 for the year) as places such as BlueHost.com.
2. Start a blog
If you feel like doing a full-on portfolio site is too much to tackle then start a blog. If you are new to blogging and just want to get your feet wet, then start off small with a free blog with Blogger or WordPress. If you are serious about using blogging as a tool, then I would suggest you go with the self hosting WordPress option. I know you are staying “Why start a blog?” and “What am I going to blog about?”. Blogging is a great way to branding yourself. You can a blog about your journey, new projects your are working on, etc. Please don’t use your blog to bad mouth any former or current place of employment, co-workers, etc. That will just leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.
3. Get on Creative Hotlist
Creative Hotlist is a great place for creatives to post their resumes and to search for employment opportunities. It’s free to sign up but it will cost your to post your portfolio. For just $35 for 6 months you can upload a PDF sample of your work and host up to 27 images in an online portfolio.
4. Join Meetup
Sign up to Meetup.com, the world’s largest network of local groups. Search for a local group associated with your niche or interests. This can be one of your offline networking tools. Some group may charge a fee for their events to help cover location or food. You may find some that are totally free.
5. Join or rethink the way your use the popular social networks
It cost nothing to sign up for a Twitter or LinkedIn account and I bet you are already on Facebook. You probably use some of these for personal use but if you want start building your networking circle I would suggest you start making some changes. Use LinkedIn in a professional way to connect with past employers and co-workers. Post your resume and ask for recommendations. A major don’t I have seen some people do is connecting their personal Twitter account with their LinkedIn profile so you see every tweet they are sending out. I would advise against this because you never know where your next gig might come from. Do you want them to know what you are getting into on a Friday night? Also start Facebook page for your blog or business. According to Facebook policy you should use pages for your business and not your regular Facebook profile.
6. Search and join specialize networks
There are other types of social network besides Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Check out sites on Ning.com. I know several people who have start their own successful networking sites gears toward particular niches. I am a member of three different ones and have gotten leads as well as clients from being active on these networks. Search Ning.com for a site thats associated with your niche or interests. Again you make come across a couple for free or those that have a membership fee.
7. Become BFFs with Google and Youtube
Yes, Google is your friend. You can find pretty much anything by searching online. Your can find great resources from Newspaper and Magazine articles to blog post related to your niche. When you need to figure out how to do something, check Youtube. Both are valuable resources.
8. Seek out job email lists such as “Help An Entrepreneur“
This one is fairly new. “Help An Entrepreneur” is a newsletter from a site called Under30CEO.com. Business owners can submit their projects and those seeking job will get these job postings in an email. How cool is that? You get all of the necessary information to make contact with the person or business that need your services. Did I mention that it’s FREE. Don’t limited yourself to the traditional job boards such as Craigslist. Hit the search engines to see what your can find.
9. Setup a way to invoice and receive payments
I use paypal. Its free and easy to set up an account. You will need to have a checking or savings account with a bank so you get access to your money. As of this year Paypal now allows you send out an invoice via their site. You can even brand it with your information and logo so you look more professional. Depending on the amount of money you invoice when it is paid by your client Paypal will take out a small fee. I recently found out that this fee is an expense. So remember that when you do your taxes.
10. Sell your digital products or services on E-Junkie
For as little as $5 a month you can sell 10 products/services using E-Junkie. It’s very easier to sign up and easy. You can bet investing $5 into marketing and advertising your services. Just selling 1 product on this site can cover your fee for at least three months. This is assuming that your are charging more than $5, which I hope you are.
I know of the challenges that you are or might being facing starting your business, that’s why I’m here to help. What doesn’t kills us make us stronger. The best advice I have received is – “No one is going to invest in your business unless you invest in it yourself”. I’m far from where I want to be but I know that I will get their soon with hard work, dedication and a lot of patience. I know you will get there also. Good Luck!