Freelancing-The-Ultimate-Getting-Started-Guide-Workshop

Freelancing – The Ultimate Getting Started Guide

Ok, well, we’re going to go ahead and get started, so first and foremost, thanks for being here. Everyone’s time is super valuable and I want to thank you genuinely. Thank you for taking the time to be here. I hope that it’s worth your time. If you have any feedback, feel free. I’ll provide my emails. Just skip@schoolforfreelancers.com.

If you have any feedback. Feel free to email me directly. But again, thanks for your time and has a quick introduction. My name is Skip Blankley. I’ve been freelancing for almost 15 years now in various fields, everything from web design to video production and photography, for that matter. And I’ve worked with several other freelancers over the course of that 15 years, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way, and I’ve worked with a lot of other freelancers who have learned a lot of lessons the hard way.

And so my goal and our collective goal with school for freelancers, my goal with this particular workshop and any other workshop that I host.

And our goal collectively at school for freelancers is to help provide people with information that helps them overcome the obstacles that we had to face in a much quicker, more efficient or even in best case scenario, totally avoid any obstacles that come about through this wonderful world of freelancing.

Because, as you know, or some of you may or may not know at this point, depending on where you at in your journey, freelancing is full of tons and tons of ups and tons and tons of downs. And so our hope is that we can provide useful information to help you avoid the downs or as many of them as possible while getting more upside to everything.

And so this is very dense, and we plan on going into a lot more detail in this in our full online curriculum, which is coming late this spring, early summer at the latest. So this is going to be a broad-stroke overview of essentially getting started and everything you need to know to get up and running.

Again we’re going to be doing a much deeper dive into each individual aspect of this in the coming months. We’re going to be doing that through our blog, through our YouTube series, through eventually a podcast, and then also the online course that’s launching here in the next couple few months. And then we’re going to continue to add to and iterate on our content into the future based on feedback.

So again, my email skip@schoolforfreelancers.com, feedback on this particular workshop, on our blog post, on anything that we’re sharing through social anything and everything that we’re doing. We genuinely want your feedback because we’re doing this for you and we want to make sure that you’re getting content that’s worth your time.

So with that in mind, I’m going to going to go ahead and dive in because we’re going to be covering a lot of content. And with that in mind, I’m going to go ahead and share my screen. And if you could just let me know. If you can see it. Someone could just let me know and confirm that my screen is now visible should be seen a slide with the title of this workshop. If someone could perfect. Awesome. Thank you for the feedback.

Freelancing: The Ultimate Getting Started Guide

Ok. Again, if any questions pop up throughout this, feel free to chime in in the chat. I will review it at the end of them will also open it up. If you want to ask any questions in person, we’ll do that as well. So with that in mind, again, my name is Skip Blankley. I’m the program manager here at the school for freelancers. This particular workshop, again, broad stroke overview of anything and everything you would need to get started. I mean, when I say “everything” that’s in quotations because there is no way to cover absolutely everything, but we want to at least give you a foundation to get started or even take things to the next level as a freelancer.

Getting Started

And perhaps even if you’ve been doing this for a while, I can certainly say with confidence that there are things in here that you might find that you would find useful as well. So with that in mind, let’s dive in. So getting started, we’re going to define what freelancing actually is. Is it right for you?

Getting organized, how to maximize productivity and prioritizing your health? Find your tribe and getting ready, getting set up for success. Each of these elements is a huge piece of this, and this is one of three sections. And so this is not everything we’ll be covering today, but this is the first section, so I’ll dive right in.

Freelancing?

So with that, what is freelancing is a lot of people. There’s a lot of misconception out there about what freelancing is, but ultimately it is trading your time and money for something that you are really good at and you don’t have to be really good at it when you get started. I can tell you from experience. When I first started freelancing, I was actually not that good.

I was actually, I wasn’t terrible by any stretch, I definitely did everything I could to build my skills before I was ready to start selling those services. But I was not by any stretch of the imagination, really good at what I was doing. At’s certain point, you will get really good. And the more experience you have, the more time you spend with your clients, the better you will get. But I will dive into that in more detail in a bit.

Right For You?

Is it right for you? And I say this with all seriousness, there are. We’ve got a lot of feedback over the years and I’ve Worked a lot of freelancers over the years that are struggling with everything from getting paid to outright depression and everything in between.

As a result of, or at least to some degree, a part of their freelancing journey. And I can tell you this from experience. The ups and downs are one hell of a roller coaster, and it is very tough at times. And it’s also quite fun at times. But I say that you need to be prepared mentally, emotionally, and financially. The mental aspect I would highly recommend everyone getting into and we’ll cover a lot of this stuff in more detail later.

But for me personally, we covered this in setting the goals workshop that we hosted back in January. Meditation, exercise, and eating right have helped me maintain the proper mindset for my freelance journey.

Emotionally, I would say that the same things that have helped me mentally in my cognitive function have also helped me emotionally being stable through meditation, through a proper diet, through exercise and just mindful practices, in general, have helped me stabilize emotionally and mentally and then financially. This is a tough one, to be totally honest because they’re everyone’s circumstances are different. But financially, you do want to make sure that you have a safety net if you’re going to go out on your own.

Oftentimes, a lot of people start part-time, they still have a full-time job and they will do freelancing part time, and it’s not until they have a safety net. Oftentimes, it’s recommended that you have at least three to six months of a runway, of a safety net, three to six months of living expenses before you take the dive into freelancing, because that gives you time to kind of build up your revenue before things get dire. But you do want to have a safety net and you do want to be prepared for this because it will test you on all fronts, everything listed there.

Get Organized

Oftentimes, a lot of people start part-time, they still have a full-time job and they will do freelancing part time, and it’s not until they have a safety net. Oftentimes, it’s recommended that you have at least three to six months of a runway, of a safety net, three to six months of living expenses before you take the dive into freelancing, because that gives you time to kind of build up your revenue before things get dire. But you do want to have a safety net and you do want to be prepared for this because it will test you on all fronts, everything listed there.

Getting organized. This is huge. I highly recommend the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. That book is one of the best ways to kind of clear your plate, so to speak, where you basically if I can summarize it in a few sentences, you basically go through a process of dumping anything and everything in your life, personally and professionally onto paper, and then you start to categorize everything in terms of prioritization. You want to, obviously, if you’re going into freelancing.

You’re going to want to maybe move down some of the other elements in your life that aren’t serving you and move up, you know, developing more skills, reading more books on business and freelancing, you know, watching more videos, taking more courses, going to more networking events. You want to start to prioritize those things over some of the things that aren’t actually serving your freelance journey, but you can’t really do that or I don’t think you can do that as optimally as you could if you don’t clear your head first.

Getting things done is a great guidebook. I call it the bible of productivity because it is hands down one of the best books on just getting everything in your life organized. From there, you’re going to want to organize your calendar. You’re going to. I personally block things off in my calendar, whether or not it’s a meeting where there’s an invite being sent out or not.

I will block off time for specific tasks that I know need to be done. Personally, I do a lot of that deep work time in the mornings. Speaking of deep work, that’s another book that we’ve covered in our blog that I highly recommend to everyone. A really good book called Deep Work will provide you with some of the principles and guide points for cultivating a time and space for you to get the deep work done.

Essentially, it boils down to avoiding distractions at all costs. But with that, you then move into updating and I guess tending to the garden that is our calendar and blocking off specific times for specific tasks. And that’s also tied to creating a structure for your time. You need to structure the time you need to have.

Personally, I wouldn’t say you need this because everyone is different, but I know what has worked for me and in speaking with dozens of others at this point, hundreds of other freelancers over the years, I can say with confidence that creating a structure for your time, blocking off your calendar and setting a routine around your work specifically, even more importantly, a morning routine just so that a lot of the decisions about your day have already been made, you go through your process, you know, these five things need to be done before you sit down to work, you do those things.

Then you sit down to work with a clean slate, a clear head ready to focus on the tasks at hand.

Maximize Productivity

Moving on to maximizing productivity, these are some pieces that have worked really well for me. The Pomodor Technique is Pomodoro is Italian for tomato, and I cannot remember the gentleman’s name that actually came up with this method. But he took a tomato timer, which was one of those old school oven timers that you turn the knob on for, you know, 10, 15, 20 minutes, 45 minutes, whatever the case, and it just ticks down until it ends and then it has a ding.

And then that’s the end of the 20-minute session. And so he originally coined this technique through the use of that tomato timer, where he set it for 20 minutes and for 20 minutes. He would not touch anything or not think about anything, not do anything other than what he was focused on at that moment.

Whatever task that was, whether he was, you know, fixing a broken something around the house or he was working on something related to work or whatever it was cooking, cooking lunch, for that matter. He did not do anything else except what he was focused on at that moment.

And I have applied this over the years. I personally use a 45, 40 minutes on in a 5 minute off rule wherein which for 40 minutes, I am working on one specific task. I am focused on it. I’m not checking Facebook, I’m not checking my phone, I’m not letting any distractions come up. If something does come up in my head, I jot it down on a notepad and I put it aside, I don’t think about it again until the time is right.

Avoiding distractions at all costs is hands down one of the best ways to actually get things done. And especially if you’re working a full or part-time job on top of trying to launch or grow your freelance side hustle, then you’re going to need this because you’re going to need that time before or after work or throughout the day, in general, to focus specifically on these tasks.

If you let your email, your inbox, your text messages, your Facebook updates guide your day, then you will be lost in no time and a year will have gone by, and you would have made very little progress on your side hustle or your full-time career as a freelancer, so I cannot stress that enough.

Prioritize Your Health

Another thing I cannot stress enough is prioritizing your health. If you don’t feel well, your work will suffer and there are no paid sick days when you’re a freelancer. If you’re not taking care of yourself and you have to take two to three days off because of a cold, because of the flu, because of anything for that matter, then you’re not going to get paid.

Unfortunately, as a freelancer, if you’re solo, there’s many growth opportunities where you work with other freelancers, and we’ll get into that in a later workshop. But as a solo freelancer, you don’t have anyone paying you unless you were doing the work. So that is something to keep in mind. And also at going back to what I mentioned previously. If you prioritize your health, if you’re exercising regularly, eating well, drinking plenty of water, all the things that they tell you to do, then you’re going to feel better. Your focus will be better, your productivity will go through the roof, I cannot recommend taking care of your health more.

Find Your Tribe

Finding your tribe. So find a mentor and surround yourself with other freelancers and entrepreneurs. Find people not only in your space if you’re a photographer or if you’re a graphic designer. If you’re a copywriter, it doesn’t matter. Find people that are both in your space that do the same things you do as a career, but also branch outside. I’ve known so many freelancers over the years that through just general networking at events or introductions through friends or whatever the case, we’ve handed off work to one another.

If someone’s a photographer and you’re a copywriter and you’re working on a website and the website designer says, we need someone to take photos, headshots, and photos of us around the office in order for us to launch this website where they need it, they need a web design or whatever the case.

If you know those people, if they’re in your network, then you’re going to be able to refer them work and they will reciprocate every time. I’ve very rarely sent someone to work and not been either compensated, just flat out commission for that referral, or had it come back to me from a referral from them.

But also finding a mentor and surrounding yourself. I’m sorry. Just finding a mentor is a huge piece as well with a mentor, someone who typically you want to find someone. There’s a hole we’re going to dive into again, each of these in-depth. But if I could give you the 20% that’s going to yield the 80% of the results for you, I would say when it comes to finding a mentor, find someone that is about 10 years ahead of you in the same career field, someone who has enough free time, they’re well-off enough.

They’re doing well enough in that specific field that they have 20, 30 minutes every few days or once a week or once every couple of weeks, even if it’s just a lunch or a quick chat with them for an hour every couple of weeks at once a month.

It’s a great way to bounce ideas off of them to get feedback on what you’re working on and you’re not going to get better advice than from someone who is where you want to be in 10 years. Professionally, I can tell you that from experience, I’ve had several mentors over the years, some of which I’ve had for over 15 years now, some of which I’ve literally had for almost 20 years. And we’ve become great friends over the years, and I cannot recommend finding a tribe of a group of people, but also finding one to three individuals who really help you narrow your focus and provide you with timely feedback provides you with valuable insights into your industry specifically.

But as far as your tribe is concerned, do not necessarily focus on only chatting with or joining forces with other photographers or other graphic designers or other web designers. Branch out and get to know as many freelancers and entrepreneurs as you possibly can, and the energy that you’ll get from them alone will be worth the networking.

Get Setup For Success

And then getting set up for success, so cultivate a productive environment and build systems that work for you. So what I mean by this is a physical environment having a space where you can go to work. Some people prefer to work from busy coffee shops because the ambient noise and the energy, you know, lightens gets them moving and gets them motivated. Some people enjoy a quiet, dark room with noise-canceling headphones on.

I am honestly, vacillate between the two. I bounce between enjoying a lively atmosphere and working from the office and there and especially during covid. Working from home has definitely become quite the norm. But whatever your environment is, whatever this will take time over the years you will. You’ll work from coffee shops and then maybe you’ll do that for a week and you’ll realize, OK, I can’t. I’m getting too distracted.

There’s too much noise, and then it’s time to dial it back. You know, go back home, work from home, find a spot in the office, and then within your space at home, you know, build a setup, a room that is designed for maximum productivity.

For me, personally and again, this is going to be different for everyone. Some people have a cluttered desk and they get more done in three hours than most do in three days. But I personally like a very clean workspace. I like photos of my family and outdoor spaces to kind of help remind me of my why. But create a good environment to create, cultivate a clean environment that works for you and your style.

The Plan

All right. So we’re going to dive into section number two. This is the plants. We’re going to talk about services, whether or not you want to niche down niche, down your target market, client personas, pricing your mission and vision researching, and then a one putting together a one-page business plan. We’re doing pretty good on time, but I am going to speed things up a bit again. If there are any questions about anything in this specifically that I’m covering that you feel like I’m leaving out some details on. Email me after this and just know that we have much more coming in the future.

Your Service(s)

So your services? So if you’ve already picked your services, I would or your service, for that matter, I would definitely recommend kind of spending some time dabbling in other services just to and this is what has worked for me. By dabbling in other services, I’m able to expand my horizons and honestly open things up in a way that solely focuses on one particular skill would not have allowed. If you’re into copywriting looking to copy editing, dig into and if you’re in graphic design and you want to specialize in logos, maybe do banner design, maybe do brochure design, business cards, etc, dabble in your space.

If you’re wanting to be a wedding photographer, you know, dabble in corporate headshots, do some architectural photography, just dabble within your space to help expand your horizons. And what I’ve seen over the years for me personally and I’ve seen this with other freelancers, is the more you more time you spend expanding your horizons within your space, within your field, the more you’re able to think outside the box and get so much more creative in what it is that you’re doing. And so I highly recommend branching out a bit.

But when it comes to picking the right, and I guess that was advice for anyone that’s already kind of niche down on a specific service. But if you haven’t picked a service yet, one of the best ways is just to ask friends, Hey, what is it do you think I’m really good at? That could lend itself well to offering a product or a service to a company. And if you have a specific background, I personally spent several years working in the service industry, and one of my first businesses was offering social media management and web design specifically for restaurants because I had experience in that space.

And then I began to move into marketing and move into web design. And so  I started my first business offering those services specifically to restaurants just because, again, I had several years of experience working in the restaurant industry, but asking your friends what you’re really good at? And then also, obviously, what do you enjoy doing if you really enjoy photography or if you really enjoy graphic design, if you enjoy art, whatever it is, kind of find opportunity within that. I would highly recommend everyone just going to Google and literally just do a search for if I’m a, you know, graphic or if I may if I enjoy art, what would be a good freelancing approach? I’ve actually found a lot of really good information, and we actually plan on putting together a lot more in-depth information on this as well.

But there’s a ton of information out there if you just do a quick search, but you’re going to want to do something that you’re already good at, you don’t need to be great at it again. You don’t need to be the best in the world, you don’t need to be world-class in this, you just need to be good enough to feel comfortable having someone pay for those specific services.

Niche or Not?

And then niching down or not, so it’s up to you, and I know that’s a cop-out for this kind of question.

But I can tell you from experience that it is going to completely depend on how you want to approach it. If you want to be a wedding photographer for destination weddings and because you love to travel and you love beautiful exotic locations, and that’s what you specifically want to do, then by all means dig into that.

If you’re just getting started and anything, then I would personally recommend keeping an open mind. Don’t niche down at first, maybe, and if you have not found something that you know you want to do, then just start in a general field and then niche down over time. Again, if you niche down right out of the gate, you could put all your eggs in one basket and realized very quickly that this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s not exactly what you wanted. And so then you’re back to square one. But if you start with casting a wide net and keeping an open mind as to who you’re going to offer your services to then and what services specifically you’re going to offer, then the world is your canvas. You have a blank canvas that you could choose from multiple angles and multiple approaches to take in terms of where you want to go.

Target Market & Client Personas

So target market client personas, so this is very important. Once you’ve decided on your service and once you’ve decided whether or not you’re going to niche down, you want to find your target market and build client personas because it works straight up. It is something that I worked at Best Buy in my early 20s right out of college, and I was exposed to for the first time client personas that they had created.

They had created five different personas for five different types of people who shop at Best Buy. And it was kind of laughed at, to be totally honest, by myself and other people that were part of the people, just the group of people that I worked with the other employees And but then we started to realize, or at least I started to realize that learning these personas by identifying the individual traits and personalities of the types of people that you’re going to be providing your services for is a really good way to create a user experience for that person.

As an example, one of the personality types was buzz was his name or her name, but it was a college student who is all about the latest technology. They had some disposable income. They were a college student, so they didn’t have a ton of it. But perhaps mom and dad were giving them or giving them an allowance to buy the latest tech. But they were into cool music, they were into all the latest technologies and this was in the early 2000s, so we didn’t have quite the technology we have today. But at the time they were into all things home theater systems and the latest and greatest in computer technology, etc.

And by knowing that person and knowing what kind of objections they may have whenever I’m trying to recommend, whenever I’m recommending a specific product or service to them because I know, you know, Buzz tends to like these things and dislike these things. The easiest way to convince them that this is something that they need is by taking this approach or that approach and by mapping that out, by creating a user experience and just imagining yourself having a conversation with these individuals and knowing their personality traits, you’re able to again foresee objections. You’re able to know exactly what it is that they want and speak directly to that and not waste time trying to sell them on something that’s, you know, they’re not going to be interested in. This takes time, and it’s something that we’re going to cover again in more detail at a later date on how to put these personas together.

But identifying who you’re going to be, what industry you’re going to be selling to, and then the individuals within that industry, the types of people you’re going to be selling to getting to know them, their likes and dislikes is going to be hands down. One of the best things you can do before you get started with sales or trying to sell your services.

Pricing

So pricing this is pretty simple. Honestly, I think a lot of people put way too much effort, or I won’t even say way too much effort, which is way too much thought into coming up with the perfect price. I do not think that there is a perfect price I can promise you, even after doing this for 15 years, I still will price something and then I realize, well, crap.

I probably should have priced this a bit higher because I’m realizing now that I’ve gotten into working on the specific project that I did not foresee this particular thing coming up. And now it’s become an issue. But it’s I’ve already quoted them on this price. And so now I have to stick to it and I have to eat that time and reduce my hourly rate ultimately.

But I can tell you again, that’s 15 years in, and that still happening, it’s going to continue to happen if you’re unless you’re focused on one very specific service, one very specific target demographic and one very specific niche, you’re going as you continue to expand your services, you’re going to run into that issue. but one of the best places to start is just research. Do a Google search for the average rate for insert your service, go visit your competition’s websites and see if they have any pricing listed on the website.

If they do, then use that as a price point. But also if this person’s been, you know, if you’re just getting started and this person has been doing it for 20 years now and they’ve worked for Fortune 500 companies, then there’s a good chance that you’re going to want to come in at a lower price point. But I would I would not worry about underpricing what it is that you’re doing.

I would just find what’s comfortable, what’s best for you and then just set a price for a specific service. And then based on that, the performance that you and track your time, obviously. And when you’re done with the project, if you if everything balances out in your pricing based on the project, which I actually do not recommend pricing per hour, I would actually recommend having a price sheet that’s associated with the project and just getting to know what it is the client actually need you to do and then just providing them with a price for that specific service rather than going hourly.

Hourly is going to get you trapped. One of the best ways I’ve heard it explained. Is if you have gotten really good, let’s say you’re doing video editing, freelance video editing, and you know, when you first get started, it’ll take you, you know, to edit five minutes of interview footage. It could take you 10 or 12 hours when you or, let’s say, 20 hours is how much it would cost, how much time it would take you when you get first, get started.

But after doing it for five or 10 years, you know you’re able to edit that video in six or eight hours or four to six hours. Basically, what you’re doing is if you’re still charging the same hourly rate, then ultimately you are going to be devaluing yourself in a pretty big way because you’ve spent all this time effort, energy, getting as skilled as you are, and able to reduce the amount of time you have to spend on something and you shouldn’t be penalized for that. You should actually be rewarded for that. So pricing is based on a project versus hourly.

And if you do price hourly, make sure that you are getting what you are worth. And that’s going to change over time, your worth, will how much your worth to the client is going to change over time.

Your Mission & Vision

So your mission and your vision, so keep your mission and vision for your career close and revisit it frequently. I personally journal every morning and at the top of my journal I have a series of quotes. And my mission, my vision for my business, and everything I’m working on in just a few things to remind myself what I’m grateful for and what I should be focused on I see that every single morning, almost every single morning.

I definitely am not perfect In getting to my journal without fail every single morning, but I can tell you that I’m about 90 percent success rate on that front. But I do see what it is that I need to be focused on my mission and my vision for my business as I see that every single morning and I highly recommend you do the same. It’s going to keep things in perspective.

Research

So research, this is something I’ve been in marketing for several years, and one thing that I’ve gotten really good at and I’ve seen work really well for a lot of other people is reverse engineering what successful companies or people have done when it comes to marketing.

For example, if you sign up for if you go purchase a product for the first time and you receive an email notification thanking you for your purchase and then five days later, you see receive an email with something of value to you, and then 10 days later, you receive another email. You can essentially take that sequence if you know you responded well to it. If it’s something that you know you responded well to and that got you to come back and purchase again from that particular company. Reverse engineer that obviously, if it resonated with you, if it worked for you, then it could work for other people. The same rules apply to any of the freelancers in your field that are doing something similar to follow them on social media, read their blogs, do what you need to do to research these individuals, and find out as much information as you can from what they’re doing and just reverse engineer it again if they’re doing really well. If there are companies or individuals that are out there freelancing, doing amazing work and you see their portfolio and they’re just killing it time and time again.

Take notes, you know, review their website, review their blogs, review their portfolio and just just take notes and learn from that success. Leaves a paper trail could not be more true and more applicable than it is these days because there’s the information you need is everywhere.

Business Plan

So with all this in mind, I do not actually recommend business plans in the traditional sense. What I do recommend is a one-page business plan. Just map out everything we’ve discussed so far on a one-page Google Doc or a word document. Write it out. If you like a pen to paper, then, by all means, write this out, but don’t go over a page for now, because when you start digging into too many details, then in my opinion and my experience, you begin to narrow your focus too much you want to keep.

When you’re first getting started, you want to keep things narrow. If you’ve been going at this for several years and you feel like you’re too broad and you’re still too, you’re all over the place of what it is that you’re offering, then refine the business plan even further. Write a one-page business plan based on everything you know so far. I also recommend revisiting this every quarter, every six months, but at the very least, once every year I would actually recommend when I say revisiting it.

I mean, what I actually mean is rewriting it, reviewing it, and then revamping it in any way. that’s useful because your business plan is going to change, but I recommend doing that at least every year. I honestly recommend once a quarter But for now, once you’ve written this business plan, I would actually review it once a week or at the very least once a month and just review it, just read over it. Make sure that everything that you originally set out to do is still top of mind.

It’s still got everything kept in perspective in a way that keeps you moving forward.

Get to Work

All right, so. And I still want to leave time for questions, and so that leaves us about another 12 minutes to get through this. There’s a lot here. This is very dense, but again, feel free to email me after this or any time, for that matter, and I’m happy to provide any additional details if I skipped over something too quickly.

Sales

All right, so we’re going to start with sales. A lot of people that I’ve worked with over the years, myself included, I was very shy at first I did not, especially for when you first get started, it is difficult to ask someone to pay you for something you’ve never been paid to do before, even if you’ve been doing something for several years. Sales get easier with time, but it’s still not unless you’re unless it’s really something that you enjoy doing. In my experience, most freelancers don’t enjoy the sales process.

They more so enjoy the art and the act of doing what it is they’re doing. Whether it’s photography or graphic design or anything in between, they enjoy that much more so than they do the sales process. But I can tell you, though, that without sales you don’t exist. You are freelancing career does not exist. I say you don’t exist. Obviously, you exist.

So I would start every time I start with people, you know, and this is also something that you can revisit, whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been doing this for 10 years. Revisit this list because starting with who you know, I do this all the time when I see the pipeline kind of dip a little bit, then I start reaching out to friends and clients that I’ve worked within the past and asking if they are interested in any other services we’re offering or with new people or people that I haven’t worked with, with just friends. You’re reminding friends and family members and existing clients what it is that you do because you’d be surprised. You can be knocking on someone’s door, trying to sell them for six months or a year.

And then if you go silent for six months or another year, you’ll see, Oh crap, they just redesigned their website or they just have new headshots taken or they just had a video produced. They just got a new logo designed.

And it’s not because they didn’t like you. It’s oftentimes because they forgot about you and someone else just happened to be top of mind for them the moment they were actually ready to make that decision. So by starting with your friends and reaching out to friends and family frequently, don’t be annoying, obviously, but reach out often enough and remind them, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Say, Hey, I’ve been freelancing for six months now and I see my pipeline is getting pretty thin. I could really use some help. If you know anyone that needs some graphic design work or whatever the case, then. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Practicing your pitch is huge.

I cannot recommend this enough, practice it with friends. Here in Atlanta, we have what’s called pitch practice, where it’s actually both virtual and in-person, where you basically go around the room. It’s a bunch of other freelancers and entrepreneurs. Everyone goes around the room and pitches what it is that they do, and then they get feedback from the people, the other people in the room. I highly recommend there are meet-ups that actually do the same thing. You can find them online. This is actually something we plan on incorporating at a later date as well.

But for now, just pitch it to your friends, pitch it to your family members, often pitch it to other freelancers because I think some of the best feedback you’re going to get is going to be your oftentimes friends and family are just going to say everything. That sounds great. That’s awesome. Well done, pat on the back. But other entrepreneurs, other freelancers, other people in the business space are going to provide much more constructive feedback. They’re going to ask you to dig in on more details as to what it is that you do or further refine your pitch in a way that makes more sense to someone who may have no clue what it is that you offer.

Be persistent, but not pushy, as I mentioned earlier, being persistent.

Four. You’ll know the moment you’ve breached persistence and moved into pushy territory. Oftentimes, you’ll get feedback from the person you’re pitching, saying, OK, I’ve heard from you too much. We’re not interested right now. Either tell you that they don’t ever want to hear from you again or they’ll say, you know, reach out in a month or six months or, you know, reach out in the fall when we’re, you know, reevaluating our budget, whatever the case.

But do not be afraid to continue to send emails. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve worked with freelancers who are worried about their sales and worried about the number of leads they have in the amount of work they have. And then I ask them what their pipeline looks like and they say it’s really healthy. I’ve sent the last over the last month I’ve sent 10 or 12 or 20 emails. And then I ask, Well, have you followed up? And sometimes they say no, they literally will send a cold email, but not send a follow-up email, or they’ll even present a proposal. And then sometimes wait a week or two or never to follow up to that proposal. And they’re just assuming the ruminating in their mind that the person that they’ve pitched is not interested in their services. And they’re just like, Oh man, I must have gone too high with my price. Or maybe I didn’t include something that they were looking for in the proposal, but oftentimes that’s not the case. Oftentimes it’s the person that received that proposal is just too busy, and they haven’t had a chance to reach out to. Not especially if you’ve submitted a proposal never wait more than 48 hours for a follow-up.

And then once you’ve had that 2 day follow-up, wait, maybe two or three more days, do it again, do it again, do it again. If you submitted a proposal, they owe you the common courtesy of at least letting you know that, hey, they’ve decided to go another route or whatever the case. But I can tell you from experience, as someone who has been pitching and been pitched to for 15 plus years, now it’s actually if I receive a proposal and then they don’t follow up and it’s been two weeks, then oftentimes I don’t bother reaching out to them again because if they’re not persistent enough and not organized enough and not structured enough to follow up with me, then maybe I don’t want to work with them. And so again, until you get a hard no keep being persistent, but again, stay organized. If you’re going to be persistent if you’re going to have multiple proposals and multiple people that you’re pitching to, you’re going to have to have everything organized.

We use Pipedrive. I’ve been using it personally for like 10 years now. It is a very affordable pipeline sales CRM. There’s actually a blog if you go to the School for Freelancers blog and just search for Pipedrive. There’s actually a link in there where you get a link, a 14 day free trial, but it’s $18 a month for the starter package and it has hands-down worth every penny because it will help you stay organized and help you close more deals. And for $18 a month, you land one more sale every quarter. That’s once a year, for that matter.

As a result of this software, it’s paid for itself and then some. So that’s one of the best ways to get in, stay organized.

Marketing

Marketing, and I’ve realized I spend a lot of time on sales because sales is important. But when it comes to marketing, the long and the short of it is always be creating and share what you create. Marketing is nothing more than spreading the word about your business, right? And in this day and age, through social media, through blogs, through workshops like this, if you’re creating content, if you’re posting, if you’re a photographer and you’re constantly posting on Instagram and Facebook, the photos for the projects you’re working on posting links to, you know, articles you’ve written as a copywriter or whatever the case may be, whatever it is that you do create. And if you don’t have clients right now, go create for free, go create for yourself and then just publish that content.

Get it out as much as you can using hashtags, here’s yeah, I’m not going to get into the best practices when it comes to social media, marketing or email marketing or blogs, etc SEO.

But what I can tell you is that it all starts with creating content. So no matter what it is that you’re doing, create, create, create and publish, publish, publish, get it out there as much as you possibly can build.

Portfolio

A portfolio, gain, go back to the content piece, you need to be creating. And again, if you don’t have clients at the moment, you need to be building a portfolio. If you do have clients, do not forget to share what you’re working on your website, on your social media accounts. Share, share, share, post, post, post.

If people don’t see a portfolio, they cannot confirm whether or not you’re good at what you do. So and again, you don’t need you to don’t even need clients to build a portfolio, but obviously having them will be super useful.

Referrals

Getting referrals, I cannot recommend how important this is from a marketing standpoint and just from a sales standpoint, if you get someone to refer you after you’ve done a great job for them or even if it’s just a friend of yours that knows you as a person and knows that you’re a great Individual that’s very capable and kind and all of those things, then I can tell you from experience that when they recommend you to someone, You’re going to be much, so much more 10, 20, 50 times more likely to land a client.

When you’ve been referred to by someone else versus a cold email or a cold call, get your friends to make introductions. Get your existing clients to refer your services, give them a reason to spread the word. I have experimented with several things over the years and everything from paying people a commission offering free services, etc. But you’d be surprised how many times people are just happy to do it, like offering people a discount on the next round of headshots that they do, or the next blog that you write for them, or the next logo you design.

Offering them a discount if they can refer you to someone is a good way to break the ice. But I can tell you from experience, even when you ask for that, even when you ask for the referral and you tell them that you’ll offer them a discount or you’ll pay them a commission, oftentimes they don’t even want it. They’re happy to make the referral. So ask for referrals. Do not be afraid to ask for referrals. Just hands down one of the best ways to keep the sales pipeline alive.

So once we have all of our marketing in place, we know how to sell. We know what we’re what services we’re offering.

Referrals

Getting referrals, I cannot recommend how important this is from a marketing standpoint and just from a sales standpoint, if you get someone to refer you after you’ve done a great job for them or even if it’s just a friend of yours that knows you as a person and knows that you’re a great Individual that’s very capable and kind and all of those things, then I can tell you from experience that when they recommend you to someone, You’re going to be much, so much more 10, 20, 50 times more likely to land a client.

Your Stack

This is the stack that I personally use that we’ve been using for several years now. It’s Google Drive as a sign, it’s Pipedrive and FreshBooks. We actually have moved recently to zero for the accounting side of things, but FreshBooks is a great place to start. Google Drive is the best place to keep everything organized. Create a folder for every single project you work on for every single client, organize, and structure. Keep everything in that folder.

Whether it’s the proposal, whether it’s the finished product, whether it’s just notes from calls and meetings, keep everything there. Use Asana, Asana is hands down. It is the heart and soul of everything I do. It’s basically task management software. If you’ve heard of Trello, it’s similar to that. I like it more than Trello personally, but it’s just a really good project management software.

For every project that you work on, you have everything you need to be outlined right there in beautiful detail. You set due dates, you attach files. It is hands down one of the best ways to stay organized. I cannot recommend it enough. Pipedrive is what we use for sales. Pipedrive is going to help keep your sales, so the sales side of things organized and structured in a way that you can’t beat. By the way, Google Drive is $6 a month if you use your own business domain, and I think it’s like $2 a month for just like a personal account. But Google Drive at $6 a month, Asana, the free account is all you’ll need to get started. I can promise you that the free account will get you plenty for Pipedrive, $18 a month, and FreshBooks.

I think they’ve updated their pricing recently, but it’s somewhere between $10 and $14 or $10 to $15 a month for the package that you need to have much bigger packages, but you don’t need that as a freelancer. But having a solid stack in place is hands down one of the best ways to stay organized and stay on top of everything you’re doing.

Resources

So resources, keep all of your resources organized. I personally have for every project. I have everything that is print or tangible. It goes into a very specific place in a very specific folder. But at this point, 99% of what I do is digital and online, and so that is where everything goes. I’m sorry, everything goes into Google Drive, everything goes into a Google Drive folder labeled the title of that project. And then when it comes to bookmarks and saving resources, I personally just use the old school bookmark bar in Google Chrome. I will create a folder in the bookmarks bar for everything that I’m learning about or everything that I’m working on.

And your folder structure will vary depending on you, but I personally have, you know, project folders for every project I’m working on. If I know that if I’m reading a blog post about the best way to do X, Y or Z, and I know that as I’m reading it, I know that that applies to one particular project.

I’m working on that I’ll save it to that project folder or just creating a general resources folder and dumping everything in there. But stay organized because you’re going to come across resources. Hopefully, school for freelancers is one of them, but bookmarking all the resources that you use on a regular basis that you find useful and saving all this information, even if you just open up a Google Doc an copy and paste links to articles, you know, whatever works best for you, I’m not going to tell you how to organize it, but I can just tell you that organizing all of your resources. This is going to be a huge, huge win in helping you with your freelance career.

Business Structure

All right. So down to business structure and this is where we’re going to kind of wrap things up and I’m going to open it up to questions real quick and we can go over. I don’t have anything for another 20 or 30 minutes, and so we can definitely go over if need be.

But when it comes to naming your business, so in this kind of ties into the LLC components, if you’re in the United States, then filing for an LLC, in my opinion, is very important.

If you’re pre-revenue, if you haven’t made any money yet, it’s not necessarily something you need to worry about. But once you start making money and you essentially are performing services and getting paid for them, you’ll want to have an LLC. One of the main things that an LLC does for you is it provides you with the protection from and I am not an accountant, I’m not a CPA and I’m not an attorney and I will never pretend to be. But I can tell you what I know, and you can do your own research on your own. But when it comes to forming an LLC, one of the key advantages to forming an LLC is it protects you and your personal assets from anything that may happen within your business. I have personally never been sued. I’ve never known anyone to be sued.

But if you just do a quick Google search, you’ll hear plenty of horror stories of people who did not form an LLC or even did form an LLC and are grateful that they did because they were working on a project. Something broke, something happen. It cost the company that they were working for thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a total accident. It was not on purpose. But when a business loses money, it’s not. And you’ll learn this either in this moment or you’ll learn it the hard way.

Nothing in business is personal. If you cost a company fifty thousand dollars in revenue because you did something you said you were going to do and you didn’t do it, and then it in some strange way cost that company money, they’re going to sue you if it’s a substantial amount of money, or I wouldn’t say they’re going to, but there’s a very good chance they’re going to. And again, it’s not personal. It’s not that they’re coming after you personally, they just need to get their money back, and they know that the person who costs them that money is you.

And so they’re going to go after you. So an LLC is going to prevent that from happening. It also provides you with the corporate structure so that if anything were to happen in a company where to go after your company, your you for any damages caused to their particular business, they can only go after the LLC. They can only go after the business. They cannot come after your personal assets. They can’t come after your car, your house, your savings, they cannot come after any of your personal assets. Whereas if you did not have an LLC to protect you from that, then they could.

I don’t say this to scare anyone because again, I’ve been doing this for 15 years. I personally have not been sued and I don’t know anyone who has. But these things happen. So forming an LLC is important. And then going back up to naming your business, you’re going to want to name your business before you form an LLC. If you want it to just name your business, your last name LLC or your last name ventures or your last name photography, your last name design LLC, that’s fine. I personally would come up with a business name, so that is separate from you because if you do end up growing from freelance into a small company and you hire people, you don’t necessarily want your name to be tied to the business entity itself.

But that’s just a personal preference. It’s totally up to you, and you can also change. You can also add and form another LLC and restructure everything down the road, but for now, I recommend everyone forming an LLC.

And then again, the name of your business does not have to be perfect. It’s not. You do not have to decide on it right away. Just again, naming it your last name, plus the service you offer is a great place to start. Or if you just want to get creative and come up with a cool name, do that as well. Set up your domain and emails. This is a really good way to look very professional right out of the gate. If you just buy a domain and put up a splash page that says coming soon or has a few portfolio items using something like Squarespace or personally use WordPress for everything we do, but something like Squarespace for a nominal fee, you can get a quick portfolio up or at least get a coming soon page up on your domain. But what it also allows you to do is set up your name at your URL.

This looks a lot better when you send a proposal versus having your name at Gmail or you know your name52789 whatever at gmail.co doesn’t look professional and isn’t going to look good, especially if you’re pitching to larger companies who want to work with an established entity. Even if it is just you as a freelancer. When it comes to taxes, you’re not paying your taxes.

I’m sorry. You are paying your taxes, you’re not having your taxes removed from your check every month. The company that you work for is going to be reducing or removing the taxes from your paychecks every week or every other week, and that’s not going to be happening when you are freelancing. And so you are now responsible for paying your own taxes. Again, I’m not an accountant, I am not a CPA. I would recommend talking to one sooner than later.

You can at least get tons of free advice on YouTube and just by doing Google searches, but find a local CPA and just have a conversation with them and say, Hey, look, this is what I’m wanting to do. I’m a freelance photographer. I’m a freelance whatever I need, I would like to at least entertain the idea of working with you. What do you recommend I do? And oftentimes you can get 10 20 minutes conversations where they can provide you with a little more guidance on how to structure everything without having to pay anything.

But even when you do start paying some some accountants and bookkeepers one hundred fifty dollars a year to file your taxes as long as you keep everything organized. And also when it comes to taxes, keep everything organized, save every single receipt that you spend money on. They are tax deductible if it’s if it’s a business related expense. And then once you’ve set up your LLC, you’re going to want to get a business bank account because with that business bank account, you can now attach that to FreshBooks. And then at that point, you’re able to send invoices, receive payments using PayPal or Stripe.

Once you’ve linked that to your Freshbooks account. But again, we will go into a lot more detail on the specifics of how to structure your business. But these are the main points to me. These are the top four or five items that you need to be focused on out of the gate as soon as possible. As soon as you’re making money, these things need to be taken care of, and that wraps things up.

At this point, we have gone where I’ve left one minute officially for questions, but I still want to open it up to questions if anybody has any. But before I do that, I do want to encourage everyone again. You could email the general email address or you can just email skip@schoolforfreelancers.com and if you have any questions, and I would also encourage anyone and everyone to join us on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and on YouTube. We have a lot of YouTube content coming soon.

And as for the free gift, what I am offering everyone on this call, you’ll have to email me skip@schoolforfreelancers.com, I am offering everyone three free months of our freelance community.

What we’re doing is building a freelance community. It’s essentially a form, we’re not using Facebook groups. We experimented with that a while back, we weren’t all that pleased with it. And to be honest, a lot of people are moving away from freelance. I’m from Facebook, myself included, and so we wanted to have an independent forum and community, and we haven’t decided on a price for it just yet. But to kick things off and to thank everyone for being a part of this workshop, we’re going to offer three free months of the form within that forum.

You’re going to have access to myself and all of the other freelancers that are a part of it. You’ll have access to me and the rest of the team. We will be answering any and all questions you have.

Again, anything related to this, specifically what we’ve covered today or just any general questions you have about freelancing, just consider it your go to source for having your questions answered will typically respond within 24 t 48 hours at the absolute most, but we are going to try our best to get back to you even quicker than that with just a couple of hours. As long as the timeline is reasonable, so you’ll have to email me skip@schoolforfreelancers.com for that promo code. And if you have any questions about that, feel free to include it in the email as well. But at this point, I’m going to open it up to questions. Feel free to unmute yourself and go for it.

Yeah, I’m really behind on being a freelancer, I’m not really sure exactly what business I want to narrow it down to, but it will be one I just wanted to ask when you, you talked about your stacks. So basically start off with Google Drive, that’s the best way for now and then work my way up to the others.You think so?

I would. I would honestly start with everything I would go ahead and set up. Because Google Drive is a very nominal fee monthly fee, Asana has a free account, that again, will be everything you need for now and then Pipedrive. You may not be ready for Pipedrive unless I would recommend signing up for Pipedrive. Until you have more sales prospects, then you can keep in your head the moment you get to like three or four or five, you know, sales prospects and people that you’re emailing back and forth or have proposal exchanges with, then I would recommend signing up for Pipedrive like post maybe the first sale.

But if you’re just getting started, you won’t need Pipedrive, maybe just a spreadsheet or you could even use Asana. And we’re actually going to do very in-depth because Asana is a beast. It is a huge, huge piece of software that has so many features. But if you just scratch the surface of what it has to offer, there’s a ton of useful tools, but you can actually use it in the meantime, the free version of it as your sales management piece.

And then from an accounting standpoint, you don’t really need to sign up for it until you have revenue until you’re starting to invoice people. And you can also, you can literally just create using Microsoft Word or Apple’s pages and download an invoice template for the time being before you have Freshbooks or Xero or QuickBooks set up to invoice people. But you will need to be able to receive payments, so you will need to set up a PayPal account or a stripe account or something along those lines. But yeah, as far as the stack, Google Drive and Asana, I think that is bare-bones minimum use those to get started. Does that answer your question?

Yeah. And I just wanted to to before you check out, just thank you for the advice about asking a friend what you’re good at. I think that’s going to be excellent and already kind of have an idea, but I just appreciate your I appreciate looking my notes. I appreciate this. I really do. I look forward to everything. So thank you.

No, absolutely, and we’ve recorded it as well, and I’ll send a link out to everyone what we’re going to put this on YouTube and so you can watch it again and speed things up because I know I tend to ramble at times. But yeah, no, I’m grateful for your time and I’m glad you were here and I’m glad you found it useful. But yeah, if you have any other questions, again, feel free to email me. Let me know if anything else. Awesome. All right.

Did I guess Selina or Josie, do either of you have any questions?

Yeah, sure. Skip.

How are you, by the way?

Yeah, hi, I’m doing great, how are you? Good. Um, let’s see, so you said you would recommend maybe finding like a mentor in your industry. How would you recommend doing that, just doing research and then just kind of emailing certain people and asking that.

Linkedin is a great place to start. And then, as with the sales as well, friends and family, you know, talk to any friends, close friends that maybe have. I’m sure you have friends that have a larger network that maybe are just very well connected. They’re very outgoing and they love going to events and conferences, and they’re just very well connected. You know, reach out to those friends and say, Hey, you know, this is what I’m wanting to do, and I’m looking for someone that can help guide me along that path. Another approach is going so LinkedIn as a really good place, as a search engine. So you can also you can got Linkedin, perform a search for your connections. So choose, you know, first connection and then type in, you know, copy editor, copywriter, proofreader or whatever the case, whatever title there would be in there in the title of their LinkedIn profile and then type in that title and then hit enter for the first connections and then boom, anyone that’s in your LinkedIn network that has that listed as their title will pop up. If it’s if you don’t see any with the first connection dropdown, select it. It’s somewhere on there and then you can choose second or third and second is going to be very useful because if you don’t have a connection within your first degree of connections, people that you’re directly connected to, if you choose second, then that opens that search in a very big way because everyone you’re connected to now it’s searching for everyone that each of those people is connected to. And so and then the excuse me, the advantage there is that anyone that is just one person removed from that particular title, then you now have someone that can introduce you to them. You can say, Hey, I’m friends with Sally or Steve, or whoever that I see is that you’re connected to throug Linkedin I’d love to chat about, you know, I need some advice. I’m just getting started.

But I wouldn’t actually. A really good point here that I meant to cover earlier is you don’t come out right and just say, Hey, I need a mentor, look at me, you actually take a much, you dial things back in a big way and approach them and just say, Hey, I’m just getting started and I see that you’ve been doing this for a while. I would actually, especially if in the writing space, which I know you’re in, like read some things that they’ve written and then comment on, those say, you know, I really enjoyed your piece on X, Y and Z and and I was really inspired by it. I just I’m just getting started in the field. I would love to pick your brain.

Do you have 20 minutes sometime in the next few weeks? Happy to work around your schedule for a quick phone call. You know, don’t you know you want a date before you get married to anyone, right? So if you want to extend that invite to multiple people and then just see who gets back to you, and I’ll tell you this from experience, some people are going to jump on the opportunity. There are tons of people that you’d be very surprised at how excited they get. They’re like, Oh my God, like, yes, I will absolutely do that because they can immediately relate to them 10 years ago or 20 years ago, you know what I mean? So they’ll be enthusiastic and very excited that you’ve reached out and oftentimes even flattered, you know that. Because sometimes people are super busy and they’re also mentoring other people. But sometimes they’re lesser known in their field and they’re not mentoring anyone.

And then they’re just downright flattered that someone took the time to reach out to them. And so they’re going to be super excited to be your mentor. But again, just ask for, a 20-minute conversation. Introduce yourself, tell them what you’re working on, give them a little bit of background information, and also ask about them. You know, be sure to ask about their background, how they got started, and then just let the conversation just kind of happen organically. Don’t really go in with any specific agenda other than to learn more about them and, you know, extract as much information as you possibly can and then let that 20 minute conversation turn into a second third, Fifth, twentieth conversation, and then just again, have that first conversation and maybe by the tenth conversation you’re meeting for lunch on the third Saturday of every month or meeting for coffee every other Thursday. You know, just let that kind of naturally evolve. But don’t be shy.

Reach out to as many people as. You can, but LinkedIn is a really good place, your friends are a really good place. And then just online in general, do Google search for four other writers or anyone else for that matter and just find content that really resonates with you that you like.

You know, whatever it is in your case writing. But you know, if it’s photography if it’s graphic design, find the people that inspire you. That because that is flattery is going to be one of the best ways to get their attention right. And so, yeah, do a Google search, find people online, find people through LinkedIn and find people through your existing network. They don’t have to be local as COVID has shown us, you know, and things like this, you know, between, phone calls alone can be super useful and then now, with Zoom taking off the way that it has, you can still have, quote-unquote. Face time with someone if they’re in another state or another country, for that matter. So right?

Absolutely. Ok, thank you. That’s really helpful. Definitely looking to do that.

Awesome. So, yeah, if anyone has any questions, email me and I will obviously provide everyone that attended with that 3-month access to the forum. Again, there, I invite you to ask any and every question you have. We are happy to provide as much support and helping everyone launch or grow their freelance career. But if you haven’t already, please like us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, the links to all of those are on our website, which at this point you everyone should know what it is shoolforfreelancres.com. But yeah, I invite you to like us, follow us, engage with us through social media, and then when we launch this thing in just a few days, engage with us on the forum as well. But again, thank you, everyone, for your time and I look forward to seeing everyone, again in the future.

We plan on doing these workshops every month this year, if not even more frequently than that. But again, take care everyone and keep in touch.

Business Structure

Getting referrals, I cannot recommend how important this is from a marketing standpoint and just from a sales standpoint, if you get someone to refer you after you’ve done a great job for them or even if it’s just a friend of yours that knows you as a person and knows that you’re a great Individual that’s very capable and kind and all of those things, then I can tell you from experience that when they recommend you to someone, You’re going to be much, so much more 10, 20, 50 times more likely to land a client.

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