How you can offer your talents to the world
Did you know that you probably have skills that are sought after by businesses from around the world? Perhaps you’re a skilled artist or excellent writer, or maybe you’re a wizard with photography and Photoshop. You might have a natural knack for running social media pages. You don’t necessarily need a degree or qualification to get started. Of course, gaining an accredited certification can always be a bonus, but not having one shouldn’t deter you from getting started if you already have the sought after and in-demand skills.
For most services businesses, you’ll be able to get started with a small budget. Sometimes, a laptop and internet connection is all you need. For some services, such as graphic or web designers, you’ll need specific tools and software, and many companies offer monthly payment plans which allow you to access and use software like Photoshop and Illustrator without having to pay a large sum up front. There are also a ton of free options out there to use in the beginning.
Of course, having a plush office and sign-written company vehicle would be nice, but thanks to the wonders of the world wide web, it’s not a prerequisite for launching your service-based business.
The first thing you’ll want to do is create a business plan which will help you focus your time and use your resources in the most effective way possible. Your business plan doesn’t need to be overly complicated; a few pages will suffice, and you can find lots of free resources and templates online. I often find that by simply writing out your plan, it can help you jog your mind when it comes to finding ideas and inspiration for your service.
Once you’ve completed your business plan, you might decide that you need a website. A web developer can help you create a great looking site. Having a site for your service will have three main advantages. Firstly, it will allow customers to find you and your business. Secondly, it gives your business a feel of authenticity and professionalism, especially if you don’t have a physical brick and mortar office. And thirdly, it’s the best place to show off your portfolio and previous work.
When seeking out your first customers, you might find that you’re in a catch 22 position. You’ll struggle to land clients without previous work, and you’ll struggle to build up a portfolio without having clients to work for. The best thing to do is to create some ‘spec’ work, or free examples. If you’re a writer, then write about a particular subject you’re passionate about. If you’re a web developer, you could create two or three websites on a topic you like. Or, if you’re a graphic designer, you can draw some illustrations on a subject you enjoy. You’ll find it far easier to land your first clients if you have examples you can use to demonstrate your abilities. Quite often, charities and non-profits will let you create free work for them in exchange for a recommendation or reference, which can be a great way to get your portfolio started whilst helping out a good cause.
Much of your time as a freelancer will be spent finding clients. Much of the hard work is spent networking, which can be achieved online or offline. There are many ways you can network, and reach out to businesses to offer your services to, and we’ll look at some of these in future articles.