Since I’ve started promoting my freelancing services and even more after the publishing of Let’s Talk Career: Why I Chose To Freelance Full-Time, I’ve had a few people ask me about information regarding freelancing. They want to know what I do, how I do it, am I making a lot of money, etc.
I wish I could tell you I’m making tonnes of money straight off the bat, but that is just not how it works. So I decided I would share my journey into freelancing and the strategy that I have decided to use. Before we go any further, let me first say, if you are looking to freelance for a quick buck or looking for a get rich quick scheme, this is not the way. Being a freelancer most definitely has it perks, but you do have to actually work.
Deciding What Freelance Services To Offer
This was easy for me. I had already started to freelance writing business plans a few years ago, but never nurtured it as a primary source of income. I also decided that I had other skills worth selling, such as writing, Public Relations, marketing, social media and customer service management, so I offer those too. I also offer other services that are requested by clients once they are within my capabilities or within my capacity to learn.
Preparing A Portfolio
This part was fairly easy too. Since I’d been writing business plans a few years, I had samples of my work, I just needed to select pieces for my portfolio. Regarding the writing portion, I retrieved samples from both my personal and business blog. The rest I add as I go, continuously updating. Clients will want to see samples of your work. Since business plans usually contain confidential information and even intellectual property, I had to be creative in using excerpts to show the quality of work, without compromising confidential information.
I targeted January 2017 as the starting month for the best time for me to start freelancing full-time. It was the perfect time because it was late enough that I would be okay at 3 months postpartum, and early enough to give me the time I need to set targets and get results. After-all, when if not the start of the year to measure yearly progress at the end of the year?
So before my daughter was born I ensured that I registered my business Shandean Williams-Reid Business Services and designated a bank account that would host income made from that avenue. Registering is not something you have to do if you are conducting business in your own name as a sole proprietor in Jamaica, but there are certain benefits that come with having your business registered and I wanted those opportunities to be available to me should I need or want them in the future.
Branding & Re-Branding
Branding myself with my name has been something I have wanted to do for as far back as I can remember. What better way could there be to achieve this than with a freelancing business? So, the next step was having my logo created and trademarked. I then purchased a domain and re-branded my blog as my website. I then created facilitating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media pages. This is an on-going process and I am continuously trying new things and adding and subtracting trying to find the best fit. Reading and researching the best way to go is also a continuous process. I am confident that I am close to exactly where I want to be, with branding myself and my freelancing business. I am learning everyday, pulling bits and pieces of information and inspiration from veteran or more experienced freelancers.
Promotion, PR & Advertising
This is also an on-going process as I am in continuous PR and promotion mode. I am using all sorts of platforms at my disposal to get the word out, including but not limited to social media using my personal account and running paid ads on the pages I manage. I have also printed business cards. A month after the launch of the Shandean brand, I also launched an online advertising business for local Jamaican freelancers. Of course, this medium is included in my strategy . It is a freelancer’s dream to have their clients come to us, but that requires work to be possible. I have been fortunate enough in the past two months to find that potential clients have been coming to me, but i also know it could be beginners luck or that I’m doing something right. Time will tell.
Online & Physical Networking
I’ve been exploring websites, articles, freelancers, jobs and even entering a mini competition as a part of my networking strategy. Winning has only served to boost my confidence and make more visible to potential clients. My end goal is that when someone has or sees a job in my service area, I will be first in their mind. So far, so good.
I’ve also made a conscious effort to seek out networking events and even will be hosting one myself in April as the official launch of Freelance JA, the online marketing board for local (Jamaican) freelancers. This too is an ongoing process.
Lastly but not least, it is a perpetual job hunt. I am prepared for it to be for a while, until I have jobs and clients lined up months in advance. That is my goal. I’ve been using platforms like Freelancer, Outsourcely and UpWork, but truthfully, those have yet to produce any results. Like I mentioned, so far, clients have been coming to me. I am only a few months in though, so we’ll see.
My strategy is indeed evolving and will no doubt continue to. However, this is me sharing my starting point with you. If you think that you want to freelance too, I would suggest that you create a strategy of your own, or even try the one I have put forward, see if it works for you and you can alter as is necessary.