Six Steps To Make The Transition To Freelancer Easier
The Freelancer (VBO) lifestyle is awesome.
- Work when you want from the comfort of your own home.
- Have the time and the freedom to do the things you love.
- Don’t have to answer to anyone (except for the IRS - you definitely have to answer to them).
You can make all the money you need without the stressors of conventional employment as a freelancer.
You are in complete control of your own destiny. No wonder so many people are voluntarily quitting their jobs in lieu of more freedom as freelancer, or virtual business owner.
VBOs are happier and healthier than their counterparts, but that doesn’t mean that freelancing is all sunshine and roses. There are some realities about the nature of freelance and contract work that can prove challenging if you don’t know what to expect or how to deal.
Fortunately, you've come to the right place.
VBO Nation is here to tell you everything you need to know before you decide to start your virtual business, or what other call freelancers.
Find a community.
Being a VBO can be a lonely road. Freelancers are constantly struggling to connect.
You’re not in the typical office environment. There are no coworkers to talk to (your dog doesn't count). While the VBO lifestyle certainly affords you freedom, the solitude it comes with can be a challenge if you don’t have outlets for social connection.
Finding a community of other VBOs, or freelancers, is a good way to get around the loneliness.
Fortunately, in the internet age, it’s not hard to find online communities to engage with. If you haven’t yet, consider joining the community here at VBO Nation.
Think beyond one-time projects.
In the past, companies brought freelancers on to complete short-term projects requiring someone with a specific skill set. As the labor market continues to evolve, more businesses are bringing on freelance workers for the long haul.
Strive to build lasting relationships with clients who need your services.
Long-term partnerships will ensure that you’ve got a steady stream of income so you’re not caught up in an incessant cycle of hustling for the next gig. Freelancing is rewarding work, but it can sometimes be very sporadic in terms of pay and duration.
Sell your skills and prepare for rejection.
Marketing is a must for any successful business, and it’s no different for you as a VBO.
Check out our VBO Bootcamp and VBO Quickstart to learn the fundamentals for success. Prepare tailored pitches for each new potential client and highlight your unique combination of skills. Make your sales calls like discovery calls.
Learn about your potential client’s needs, and align your experience and expertise to their goals.
Keep in mind that things might not always go the way you plan. If you lose a client, don’t take it personally. Rejection is a natural part of the game in the life of a freelancer. Diligence and resilience will serve you well in the long run.
Always plan ahead.
Work for VBOs can be inconsistent at times, which is why you should always plan work for the future. Make sure that you dedicate some time every week to client acquisition, and always set up calls and meetings with prospective clients, even when your schedule is full.
You never know if an existing client will pull out. Or, you might have to prune a client – sometimes you have to lose money in the short-term to maximize your earnings in the long run. As a freelancer, you have to analyze every action and determine the opportunity cost. You might have a gig that's going, but the client doesn't want to pay you very much, the communication could be lacking, or perhaps your contact within the company is just too difficult to deal with. While being a freelancer is inevitably going to come with certain challenges, it shouldn't always be that difficult.
If you’ve got new opportunities coming down the pipeline, then you’ll always have work to do and bill for.
Build a portfolio.
As a VBO, you don’t need some expensive degree to point to as evidence of your suitability for a particular job. But you do need a documented history of past work that demonstrates the value that you can deliver.
Having a well-curated portfolio featuring your best work is an invaluable asset when it comes to landing clients as a freelancer.
Build a beautiful portfolio online and send the link out to prospective clients. And, look out for our upcoming post on portfolio strategy.
Freelancers live and die (financially) off their portfolios, especially when they're trying to build the foundation for their online business. Take the time to build one that reflects your skills and strengths and remember - features tell, benefits sell. Outline the benefits of hiring you as a freelancer and show real results. Eventually, your pipeline will fill with referrals and you'll never have to prospect again.
Establishing good communication practices is essential for managing various clients as a VBO. Take advantage of existing, must-have tools that help facilitate easy and effective communication. Make video chat, instant-messaging and email regular parts of your communication strategy, as most freelancing work will incorporate these essentials at a minimum.
Communicate often and be receptive to feedback.
Maintaining open and honest dialogue with clients builds trust and helps to foster the working relationship.
Being a VBO comes with a lot of perks.
That doesn’t mean you won’t face some challenges along the way as you transition from traditional employment to freelancing full-time.
With the right information, resources and tools, you’ll be well on your way to your dream life as a successful VBO.