Have you been thinking about starting a freelance career? Maybe even wanting to build a creative agency? You only get one life…so go for it! But before you jump in head first, get the following things in place.
Step 01: Get Good at the Services You’ll Offer
- Go to school or self educate.
- You must be able to add value to your future clients.
Step 02: Build a Lot of Relationships
- Reconnect with old friends and coworkers.
- Make friends where you work now.
- Meet new people in the business community.
- Everyone you know is either a future client OR knows someone who can be your future client. Relationships are critical in business. Make a lot of them.
Step 03: Save 3-6 Months of Cash Flow Coverage
- Save 3-6 months of cash sufficient to cover your living expenses.
- This can be a combination of money in the bank, money you are waiting to collect and money you will invoice (with 100% certainty) in the next 90 days.
- You’ll need cash in the bank to cover your personal expenses during the roller coaster of big months and small months as a freelancer.
Step 04: Build a Vendor Network
- Connect with people who have complimentary skills. If you’re a designer, find some programmers. If you’re a programmer, find some designers.
- Connect with people who have the same skills as you. Other freelancers with your same skillset can serve as your backup in case you get tons of work.
Step 05: Create Marketing Materials
- Design a brand style.
- Launch a website that showcases your work and highlights the value you can provide to your clients.
- Get active on at least ONE social media channel.
- Make sure your marketing has a clear positioning statement (what you do and who you do it for) and direct calls to action to generate work opportunities.
Step 06: Prepare Your Business
- Register your business (where applicable).
- Open a business bank account.
- Create a proposal template.
- Create a contract template.
- Start viewing your business as a separate entity from yourself. Your business has its own money, separate from your personal money.
Step 07: Quit Your Day Job Properly
- Don’t burn any bridges.
- Give two weeks notice (at least).
- Talk to your employer in person.
- Give your employer a formal resignation letter.
- Tell your employer, “I’m ready to go full-time freelance. Thank you for this job opportunity. If you have any need to outsource things in the future, just reach out.”
- It is common for your current employer to become one of your first freelance clients.
Step 08: Start the Hustle
- Don’t panic. You have money saved up.
- Don’t panic. Worse people than you have done this.
- Don’t panic. There is plenty of work out there.
- Don’t panic. You can always go back to a day job.
- Send this message to everyone you know, “I did it! I started freelancing full-time. If you hear of a business needing ____ OR ____ please let me know! I’m looking to add to my client list. Thank you!”
I started freelancing in 2002. I was in panic mode for a couple years because I didn’t have (or know) these things. You don’t have to panic like I did. Work on this list, get prepared and take the plunge. Freelancing and building my creative agency has been the most rewarding phase of my creative career. I wish the same for you.