Tips for Converting Your Freelance Operation into a Business


Having spoken with many freelance web and graphic designers over the years, I can say I have heard some extraordinary tales. The path from freelancer to single business is an arduous one. It proves to be extremely rewarding and will offer many benefits to those willing to stick it out until the end.

A freelance operation is no different from any other. Sitting down to plan out a marketing strategy, operation times, scheduled work, and other tasks is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be sharing some tips about how to shift your freelance business into a well-oiled machine!

Remember as well that all businesses in the digital realm will run off a similar structure, whether this is freelance writing, web design, programming, animation, or anything else from a similar spectrum. All freelancers should consider some of the same points regarding invoicing and work structure.

Building up your Network

It’s no illusion the most successful businesses out there today run off efficiency. The more efficient you are with producing services or goods for a network of clients, the better your reputation will be and spread to others.

Networking, to some, is a pain and almost comes across as unnecessary. However, in this scenario, networking does not mean going into the world to find high-class clientele. With freelancing, it’s much more common to meet potential business partners through relations of other means.

Connecting with webmasters, blog writers, e-book authors, Internet marketers, and nearly every other digital professional under the sun can only improve your own business. Well, why is this? It’s actually a very simple idea of spreading out your resources.

As a freelancer, you are only able to accomplish so much by yourself. Having a network of professionals to contact and bounce ideas off will ensure your projects have that much more fluidity and freedom to grow. It’s also an important segment in meeting new clients who wish to hire you as a contractor.

Build the Company Image

Branding is essential when it comes to business growth and development. All of the most popular brands on the market today have well-recognized symbols. McDonald’s, Verizon, Toyota, and Microsoft are just a few which come to mind.

Now it’s not to assume your small operation will grow towards the size of a software giant like Microsoft. But it is important to recognize that branding, even for a small business, will give off a professional feel to your consumer base.

This may seem like a strange understanding of the market, and it is to an extent. You may find it easier to brand yourself other than a company image.

I have talked with graphic designers and illustrators who find creating cartoons or imagery of themselves is branding enough for their freelance ops. Not only does it offer some personal feeling to the website, but it’s a great way to showcase their creative talents and prove to potential clients what they’re made of!

Create a Systematic Invoicing Procedure

Money will always be at the heart of your corporation, more like the fuel inciting internal fire. Creation is an ongoing process, and as artists, we find it difficult to stop and invest time in handling economics (well, some of us).

If you have the extra money, it may be worthwhile to work with a professional accountant. They can handle much of your taxes and invoicing information from all projects you’d be working on. This would leave your schedule wide open to focus on communications, IM chats, e-mails, and project work.

If you haven’t got the money and would rather handle your own finances, there are plenty of solutions. It’s not as difficult as the suits on Wall St. would make you believe, and with the great accomplishments in Internet technology, we have seen tons of new applications flooding the world wide web. Check out our list of invoicing tools if you’re in need of some inspiration.

Understand Distractions

We all would rather be doing something else other than working. This is our human nature, and to go against it would relieve the creation process. When entering into the world of business, it’s important to recognize when you are ignoring tasks that should be done.

If possible, try setting a short-term schedule where your projects will be completed well before the due date. This gives the illusion that you have more time than you need, yet if you approach your schedule as the end-all-be-all project timeline, you can ensure all work will be settled far before the actual completion date.

Try setting limits on your time as well. If you recognize there is a TV show you’d like to watch at 8 PM, start work early in the afternoon and continue before you would like to rest. In this way, you’ll get a small amount of project work completed and feel much more accomplished come to the end of the day.

The Art of Blogging

Blogging has become a great way to express new ideas and share opinions on the web. As a business, it is crucial to offer this to your visitors as it gives them insight into what you do and who you are.

Writing is the practice itself for the art of transcribing and sharing information. Blogging is the same idea, however, shared digitally in any format of your choosing. Some businesses may run their blog as a small personal effect for their client base, while others may offer an extravagant magazine-styled theme.

Whatever the reason, I would always recommend new freelancers to get into blogging. Even updating once or twice per week will give your interested readers something to check out. Freebies such as PSD mockups and icons will draw in a crowd from Google as well, propping up your brand into a glimpse of popularity.

These are all new-age tips related to freelance business structure in the 21st century. We have seen examples of businesses like these all throughout the web, which have flourished in our golden age. Function and Envato are two which immediately come to mind.

If you’re interested in further topics of freelancing, I’d recommend browsing the archives here. There are plenty of pros and cons to consider before even launching your website branding. Before approaching clients, I’d also recommend our tips on landing your first freelance job as a starting point in the industry.

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