Scale your freelance career to a small business

The gig economy has become a driver of employment for nearly 59 million Americans, according to a 2021 Freelance Forward report published by the work platform Upwork. In the same breath, it has now become more apparent than ever that working from home and freelancing is more than an afterthought for some employees, as they are able to rank in multiple numbers. Here’s how to scale your freelance career to a small business career.

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Technology and the Internet will help you scale to a small business

At the same time, with the rapid digitalization of the workplace, and companies becoming more open to outside roles, freelancers are in a comfortable position amid the transition.

Today, technology and the internet enable employees and companies to communicate effectively with each other, but also with their (potential) customers. This means that freelancers can now grow their freelance business faster and more efficiently.

Basic Communication is an organizational tool you need to scale your freelancing

Basic communication and organizational tools are now more digital and easier to use. In addition, the internet and cloud-based software enable businesses and freelancers to seamlessly improve their workflow without the need for traditional tools. A Freelancing America report found that about 77% of freelancers say technology and software have made it easier to find freelance work.

With freelancers now having easier access to the right tools, how can they scale their business from part-time to full-time development so they can operate and operate as a small business?

While it’s a challenging road leading to freelancers getting the opportunity to establish themselves as a small business, here’s a rundown of some key metrics freelancers can use to improve their business prospects.

Freelancers vs. Small Businesses vs. Contractors vs. Consultants

Before we can jump right into it, there are some defining differences between freelancers and self-employed people, i.e. small business owners, contractors and consultants.

Here’s a look at each of their features.

Freelancer: In the gig economy, freelancers usually work on a part-time or assignment basis. This means that these individuals can work for more than one person or company at a time, and the work is related to a pre-approved engagement framework.

Small business owner: It is not a direct definition as it can vary across the board, but a small business owner can be seen as someone who has developed a service or product for the greater good of the consumer market along with other employees or stakeholders .

Contractors: These individuals work for one specific person or company at a time, with an approved work contract. Usually, a contractor is employed by a company or firm to complete a set of pre-assigned job specifications.

Consultants: Consultants are usually seen as the brains behind specific jobs and projects. A consultant usually consults about a project and provides insight and knowledge of the industry. Consultants are traditionally not involved in the final duration of the project.

What we can conclude from this is that freelancers are more flexible and can work on a range of projects and jobs at the same time. This means that in most cases they are not contractually obligated to one specific employer.

Freelancing is a lot more flexible and creatives in this industry tend to work on different projects during their time. Still, it can sometimes be a challenge to juggle multiple deadlines or project formats. And of course, freelancers are not treated as full-time employees, meaning they do not receive work-related benefits from their temporary employer.

Scale your freelance career to a small business

For professional freelancers, there may have been a time when they noticed that their business was becoming more and more demanding. Other times they come across a new and fresher concept that will help them further develop their current niche.

Whatever it is, it’s possible for a freelancer to move their practice into the small business ecosystem, and here’s how.

Perfect your skills to find your niche

An excellent place to start for any freelancer is to look at their skills and expertise and narrow down one or two specific skills that they can improve on.

What this means is that while you may be the jack of all trades when it comes to your field of work, often larger companies and more established companies tend to seek individuals who are experts in their field. Continuing education is what helps overcome hardships and unpredictable challenges, and for freelancers, it can mean more business and more cash in your pocket.

Find out what you’re good at, be it photography, design, or writing, and focus on that niche. The more time and effort you put into it, the faster you can hone those skills.

Create an online presence

In the gig economy, it’s easy to look up any job portal, browse the hundreds of different jobs, and apply for the ones that seem appropriate. The digital world has made it easier and more convenient to find jobs that match your skills.

Increase your online presence – this means social media

While working on your online presence is convenient and sometimes effective, it can also seem less personal. As a freelancer, now ready to step up their game, consider how an online presence, be it a website, blog or online portfolio, will help you become more professional and connect with affiliated clients.

While you are expanding this niche, you should focus on channels where you will undoubtedly find most of your potential customers and clients. The easier it is for customers to find your business or your portfolio online, the easier it can be for them to contact you.

Being online is one of the many ways you can establish yourself as an individual entity and a professional services provider. It helps you better manage your projects and clients and is a perfect starting point for someone looking to scale their freelance career.

Grow your network

Networking helps to get your name out there. In fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to connect with people in your field or industry.

Expanding your network is not just about building a strong referral list, but also about connecting with people who can match you with potential jobs and clients.

A freelancer is only as good as the people they work with and associate with, so it’s essential to have an open mind when it comes to interacting with new people. The digital landscape is flooded with platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed and Fiverr, where professionals can network with each other.

Offer a product or service

Entrepreneurs start companies to find solutions to current problems within their market. When freelancing, consider how a service or product you offer can be presented to potential clients as a solution.

If you find that there is a shortage of graphic designers or UX experts in your area, create services and packages tailored to your direct consumer market.

It’s not as easy as it sounds as it takes some time to put everything together. From market research to networking with competitors, finding a skills shortage in your immediate community that you are already equipped with can be time and resource consuming.

Increase your prices

Freelancers usually work part-time or contractually and determine what to expect as compensation once the work is completed.

If you’re looking for more full-time activities now, and may be looking to do more work in the near future to establish yourself as a small business, it may be time to raise your prices.

Raising your prices is not for selfish reasons, but rather because of the well-known fact that people seeking help on a specific subject will pay for highly qualified professionals. Therefore, if you have a skill that is in high demand, consider how you can make money from it without overcompensating.

Use a contract for everything

It may seem a bit tedious to draft a contract for your work, even if it’s something simple like proofreading articles or editing photos. Nevertheless, you are offering your expertise and skills to a paying customer, and there should be clear ground rules about how it will work.

In the beginning, your contract doesn’t have to be a formal 10-page document outlining the terms of use. Instead, focus on what the customer can expect from you and what is expected of them in return.

The contract helps create a legally binding agreement between you and the client, giving you greater peace of mind during project completion. Contracts can be seen as one of the many insights freelancers can get from large companies.

If a client is ultimately dissatisfied with your work, or the progress, or worse, refuses to pay; in any case, you have the contractual agreement as a safety net.

Always make sure that whatever is stipulated in the contract is feasible for you and your customers.

Final Thoughts

Working as a freelancer gives creatives a space where they can be more flexible with their work. In addition, it allows them to network with companies and business leaders, which can lead to potential job openings or more full-time agreements.

Whether you’re a freelancer aspiring or someone who’s now reached a point where your side business is starting to grow – there’s always room to grow in the right direction.

Moving from full-time or professional freelancing to running a small business is now an easy caveat, and it takes some time to smooth out all the edges.

Your freelancing business may turn into a small business, but keep in mind that you have to work for it. Just remember to hone your niche, sell a skill, and network as much as you can, and you’re already on the right track.

Image credit: Pexels; Thank you!

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