By Angie Nelson
Becoming a freelancer and working from home has many benefits, not least, the fact that you are your own boss. Setting your own working hours, your own rate of pay, and when you take your coffee breaks might sound easy, but in fact setting the basics in stone before you have actually begun working from home is the most important thing you can do from the beginning.
Here are my top 10 tips for becoming a successful freelancer.
1. Organize Your Own Dedicated Work Space.
Your kitchen table is not a good place to work on a daily basis. Find somewhere quiet, free from distractions, where you can work in peace and quiet. This is one of the most important aspects of working from home — even though you aren't leaving your home to start the daily commute, you still “go to work.” A simple desk set up in the corner of a room, with all the tools you need, will suffice. It is your place of work and where you will start your amazing journey.
2. Get Your Finances in Order.
Once you secure that first all important client, you want to be prepared for when you invoice them. Setting up your business bank account or PayPal account (other online payment merchants are of course available), means that at the end of the billing month you are ready to submit your invoice with your payment details. Have a draft invoice prepared with your business name on it, so that you don't waste valuable time later setting this up. You can even create an invoice using PayPal.
Have in mind what you want to set as your hourly rate together with any additional charges that may be required. You want to sound professional and come across as confident when you get your first client.
3. Tools of the Trade.
What equipment do you need to run your freelance business? Will a smartphone be enough to enable you to carry out your work, or should you invest in a PC or laptop? Will you need a printer to print off invoices or letters? Do some research to see what you may or may not need.
When it comes to software, most of the standards have free alternatives available. If you don’t already have Word or Excel, you can use Google Drive. The good news about freelancing is many people are able to start with what they have and upgrade as the profits come in.
4. Set Work Hours.
Okay, so working from home has great benefits. You can make a cup of coffee when you like, go for a walk, do the ironing … This is exactly what you should not be doing! Set yourself a daily working plan. Set your start time, your coffee break time, your lunch time, and your quitting time and stick to it. Getting into the mindset of being at work and not at home is crucial and the key to your own success.
5. Find Your Niche.
Have you any expertise in a particular area? Carry out some research and find out who your target market is and concentrate your efforts on them. Don't cast your net too wide in an effort to find work, as casting too wide may mean missing out on that one person who could become your first client. Find forums and websites dedicated to your niche and perhaps start commenting there and becoming part of the community. Send out email pitches to those within your area of expertise offering your services.
6. Learn to Say No!
Don't overstretch what you are capable of doing and fall into the trap of saying yes to every new prospective client. If what they are asking you to do falls outside your particular area of expertise or interest, politely decline.
7. Turn Off Your Phone and Lock the Door.
It is very easy for others to assume that because you are a freelancer and work from home that you are available for a chat or a cup of coffee, or to run errands. Make it clear to family and friends that you are working and work means work! If that means turning off your phone and locking your door, then do it. It may take a while, but they will soon get the message.
8. Get Dressed.
Okay, I'll hold my hands up to this one – on occasion I've gone to work in my pajamas. However, if you get dressed in the morning, you will feel much more productive and ready for the day ahead. I always feel more professional and ready for action when I am suited and booted.
9. Schedule in Some “Me” Time.
Starting up your own business as a freelancer can be daunting, and all too often you may be tempted to check your emails when you have finished work for the day, or even when you are away for the weekend. While it is important to keep in touch with clients, it is also vital that you have some time for yourself to unwind and relax. Giving yourself some well deserved down time will leave you feeling relaxed and ready for Monday morning all over again.
10. And Finally, Enjoy!
Remember, becoming a freelancer and working from home can be so rewarding. You somehow work harder for any money you will earn, and you will take more enjoyment and pleasure working for yourself. Enjoy it, for this, is the start of something big.
Do you have tips for becoming a successful freelancer? Drop us a note below, we'd love to hear from you!
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Angie Nelson has been a virtual assistant and serial blogger since 2007 when she took her future into her own hands and found a way to escape the corporate cubicle farm. Today she balances several successful online ventures and still manages to share her passion for making money with others on her blog The Work at Home Wife.com. Sign up here for her 7-day email series on finding work from home.