Set Up Your Freelance Business for Success

by Beth Rifkin

2 min read

According to a report from Spera, in 2014, online freelance platforms generated $1.47 trillion ($1.1 trillion in U.S. dollars) in total revenue globally. To put that in perspective, that was larger than the reported 2014 GDP of Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Netherlands, Nigeria, or Switzerland.
There is a lot of room for freelancers to find a niche, build a client base, and be successful.

Treat Freelancing Like a Full-Sized Business

These tips aren’t just for full-time freelancers. Even if you only freelance part-time as a hobby or a way to supplement your base income, it helps to maintain a professional image. Communicating confidence and competence could help you win better contracts and allow you to charge higher rates. Perhaps just as importantly, you may find that you hold yourself to a higher standard and produce higher-quality work.

Set Up Routine Working Hours

Social psychologists say that people work better under routines, and research suggests that very productive people often establish routines to tactically improve work habits. One of the strongest habits you can form? Create a clear dividing line between important work, busy work, and personal time. Maybe you try out a few routines and monitor your progress. Find the hours and timing that work best for your freelance business.

Create Clients, Not Transactions

Many major freelancing websites, such as Upwork or Toptal, allow you to interact with potential clients from all over the world. You may never meet or speak with some clients. Freelance work can feel very disconnected, impersonal, and transactional.Try to remember that business relationships are still relationships. Treat your projects with care, respect, and professionalism, and some of those simple transactions may evolve into long-term, multi-project client relationships. (These also tend to be the best referral or testimonial sources.)

Work to Build Your Brand

The most successful companies create a brand. That brand serves as a recognizable symbol of quality and competence. In many ways, a brand is more of a reputational device than a creative moniker. You can start on the path to building a successful brand by creating:

  • A professional, user-friendly website.
  • A logo
  • A social media presence
  • Interactive graphics
  • A motto
  • A sleek business card
  • Remember to Prioritize Personal Accounting

    Every freelancer needs their business to cash flow positive. That means generating enough income to cover work and personal expenses, and it means tracking expenses so that you can take cost-control measures when necessary. Freelancers are also responsible for tracking and paying their own taxes. The Canada Revenue Agency has very specific rules for paying self-employed taxes in Canada. Here are three ways to tackle your accounting needs:* Find a reliable accountant.* Use cloud accounting software.* Use automatic easy invoice software to bill clients and keep payment receipts.

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