Ever thought about freelancing as a career? It sure does seem appealing- control over your schedule, choosing whom you want to work with, and no need to report to an unappreciative manager. The independent lifestyle seems great, but kick-starting your self employed career is not as easy as it seems.
The recent “Senior Series- Freelance Panel” presented by the Steinbright Career Development Center at Drexel University was packed with diverse and knowledgeable freelancers. From the film and video industry, to fashion, event planning, and graphic design, the panelists were all eager to share their various experiences and insight. Here were just a few of the tips shared by the experts.
Find your Niche
All of the industries mentioned above have an abundance of skilled workers. To ensure a growing business as well as upcoming projects, set yourself apart by determining your competitive advantage; and then market that to potential clients.
Prepare an Elevator Pitch
You never know when you may meet a potential client- on the subway, at happy hour, or waiting in line at Starbucks. Therefore, it is essential to have your elevator pitch ready at a moments notice. Nail your pitch by expressing it with confidence and conviction.
Create a Pricing Structure
Do this ahead of time! Go into a meeting or phone call with potential clients with a set pricing structure. One panelist suggested determining your costs per month and looking into what others charge for the same services as a starting point. From there, create a pricing structure for friends and family, non-profit companies, and for profit companies; you will be prepared for all budgets and expectations.
One panelist pointed out the powerful combination of a business card, website, and Twitter handle. Use these platforms to create a cohesive image and reputation for yourself. Clients will be impressed by your professional and engaging presence.
Consider a Part-Time Job
Particularly for novice freelancers, your network will be small and you may not always have another project lined up, meaning your income will greatly fluctuate. Consider getting a part time job to buffer monthly expenses when there is a shortage of work.
Networking is essential no matter your industry or work environment, but for freelancers, it is the main source of projects and income. One panelist suggested going alone to events. This will prevent you from taking comfort in a companion and shying away from conversation with strangers.