There has never been a better time to start and run a freelancing business from home. With the significant changes in how companies utilize their employees, more companies will be outsourcing to freelancers in the future. This is what many call “The Gig Economy,” and it’s poised for a major growth spurt in the next 12 months.
Freelancing can be the business structure for a great many activities and areas of expertise, including:
- Website design and development
- IT management and support
- Digital marketing services (SEO, advertising, email automation)
- Mobile app development
- Transcription and/or translation services
- Copy and/or content writing
- Social media management
- Voice acting
- Data analysis and visualization
- Video and motion graphics production
- Coaching, teaching, and/or tutoring
Of course, there are multiple other areas of expertise that can be employed remotely. But, with the business disruptions caused by the pandemic, many businesses are finding that tasks and positions they previously handled in-house are functioning more efficiently with remote workers.
But if this is your first foray into the world of freelancing, you probably have a few questions. This article covers a few of the initial questions you may have and provides some tips for success.
As a Freelancer, Do I Need to Start a Business?
The rules for freelancers tend to vary a bit from state to state and country to country, but – in general – you technically don’t need to create a legal business entity to begin freelancing. The only time you absolutely need to register as a legal business is if you plan to run your company under a name other than your legal name.
So, if your name is “Betty Jones,” but you plan to advertise and operate your freelance business as “The WordPress Warrior Princess,” you’re going to need to register a legal business under that exact name.
However, if you choose to operate under your legal name (which many do), you’re going to be considered a “sole proprietor” and don’t need to register a new business. Just keep in mind that as a sole proprietor in the US, you’ll need to be familiar with using 1099 forms for tax purposes.
As a Freelancer, Do I Need to Hire an Accountant and a Lawyer?
Do you have to hire an accountant and/or a lawyer to start a freelance business? No. Should you? Ideally, yes.
An accountant will provide guidance on setting up the correct bank account for your business, as well as keep track of income, expenses, tax payments, and more. Additionally, some accountants will provide a degree of business coaching – kind of like a mini-CFO – to ensure your business endeavor remains scalable and profitable.
A lawyer can be helpful with drawing up work contracts and handling disputes if/when they arise. Technically you don’t need to have a work contract – handshake deals are still a thing – but a contract spells out what services you will deliver and how the client is expected to pay for those services. Typically, a contract will also spell out what happens if there is ever a dispute between the parties involved. As a startup freelancer, you probably don’t need to put an attorney on retainer. However, paying a lawyer to draft a service agreement contract that will stand up in court can save you time and money in the future.
As a Freelancer, How Do I Build a Web Presence?
Nowadays, no matter how small, every business must have a strong internet presence. For the freelancer – especially the startup freelancer – that web presence should include at least:
You may notice we did not mention Google or social media ads in the list above. Why? As a new freelancer, you probably have cost concerns. So, until you have a strategy for using PPC ads and are ready to invest in paid advertising, it may be best to rely on free social sites and business listings for marketing at first.
Starting up social media pages is simple: visit the social media site of your choice and start up a business page for your freelancing services. However, a blank social media page won’t get you much attention. Make sure you post content that is relevant to your target audiences at least once or twice a week, if not more.
As for building a website, we highly recommend using WordPress. WordPress is the number one CMS in the world for a couple of reasons: it’s easy to use, affordable, versatile, and better for SEO than what-you-see-is-what-you-get website builders like Wix and Squarespace. Learn more about the cost of building a WordPress website.
Downloading WordPress itself from WordPress.org is free, and customizable WordPress themes can run from the gamut from being free to costing about $200. For advice on building a WordPress website, take a peek at these excellent articles:
Keep in mind that you will need a reliable WordPress hosting provider for your new freelancing website. While GoDaddy, AWS, Google Cloud, and others are focused on one-size-fits-all hosting solutions, WordPress-centric hosting companies – like Pressable – offer a platform that is custom-designed for the needs of WordPress websites. This includes automated WordPress core updates, 24/7 WordPress hosting support by real-world WordPress experts, a global content delivery network (CDN) for enhanced performance, and other features designed to make your site run better, as well as save you time and money.
As a Freelancer, Should I Put Myself Up on Sites Like Upwork?
Typically, the first big hurdle for new freelancers is finding work and creating a steady income stream. Many freelancing websites specialize in connecting freelancers with buyers for their services. The upside is that work may be found quickly and easily without the need to invest in advertising. But there are a couple of negatives.
Some of these freelancing sites have strict rules that keep the freelancers working through them instead of directly with clients they found on the site, and taking the freelancing site out of the billing process is prohibited. Also, combining the fees taken by the sites with the competitive nature of bidding for work, the net income after fees may be lower than what you desired.
Many freelancers start out using these websites and growing their customer base. Once they get past the time restrictions on how long they must keep the freelance site involved, they can take their clients off the sites and get a higher net for their work.
Some Final Thoughts and Follow-On Reading
Hopefully, you now have a basic grasp of starting your freelance business in 2022. Starting a freelance business is an exciting endeavor; after all, you can now be your own boss and do what you love for a living. Plus, you can work from literally anywhere as long as you have a decent internet connection.
But, this article just scratches the surface about starting a new freelance business. For more information, we recommend the following articles: