One of my very favorite things to do is help people become freelance writers.
Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. It was the only thing I ever wanted to do! (And when I started full-time freelancing in 1999 and then failed a couple years later, it just about killed me!)
Then, on the first Monday in August, 2005, I started freelancing again… and this time it was different; something clicked. I’ve been fully booked ever since. (I don’t really call myself a “freelancer” anymore, but that’s essentially what I am since I’m not an employee.)
Now, whenever someone asks how to start freelancing for themselves, I’m happy to help—to show them step-by-step what I did.
Some have gone on to become successful freelancers themselves (others have tried it and gone in different directions, which is fine because it’s not for everyone). But I’m ridiculously proud of those who are killing it as freelancers!
The methods and strategies I used back in 2005 still work (with some updating). That said, it’s funny to look back and remember starting out with just a yahoo email address and a blogspot blog! Wow!
So the question now is: if I was starting out as a freelancer now, what would I do? Here’s my answer…
#1. Get A Gmail Address
Get a Gmail address. That’s all you need. Yes, I have a fancier custom one but you only need a Gmail address. Just use your name. (Once you have the Gmail address, of course you also have a calendar, which you’ll also use.)
#2. Sign Up For Paypal
Yes, there are other options to get paid but Paypal is simple and many people use it.
#3. Choose A Specialty
The next thing I’d do is pick a niche sooner. In 1999, I wrote for everyone and that was a costly mistake that was instrumental to my first business’ demise. When I restarted in 2005, I wrote for “business, finance, and real estate” which seemed like a narrow niche at the time but (in retrospect) was ridiculously broad. When I narrowed further to become the real estate investing copywriter, I agonized over that decision and worried that I would be niched too narrowly. (I was wrong.) Pick a niche and focus.
#4. Build A Facebook Page
Not that long ago I would have suggested that you build your personal Facebook Profile to present yourself as a freelancer. And maybe that’s still relevant but if I was starting today, knowing what I know now, I would build a Facebook Page (a business page) that is built around my specialty. Then I would drive traffic there. In fact, I’m not even sure I would invest in a website in those early days; I just don’t see the need for it anymore (at least to start).
#5. Build An Instagram Profile
Then I’d build my Instagram presence and focus on adding value and solidifying my brand on that platform.
#6. Record Videos In Facebook And YouTube
Then, I’d record short daily videos—some on YouTube that are reposted to Facebook, and others that are Facebook Lives. I’d share great insight with my prospective audience. And I’d do it daily. Yes, daily.
#7. Build The Rest In Google Drive
Then I’d build the rest of my business inside Google Drive: I’d invest in the larger storage amount, and I’d build the following folder structure:
One (private) folder for business administration (including financials).
One (shared) folder for your portfolio.
One (private) folder for clients, with (shared) sub-folders for each client.
And, when you build a team, one (private) folder for your team with (shared) sub-folders for each team member.
Yes, That’s It.
That’s all you need. Don’t over-complicate it. Use Google Email to communicate; use Google Calendar to schedule stuff; use Google Drive to manage your business and to write for clients. Use Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to promote yourself.
Want to share some info with your audience in a lead magnet offer?
Ebooks used to the thing to offer. But those have since been devalued because everyone offerdd them.
Then, reports had a higher perceived value at first because they felt more substantial and formal. However, reports went the way of ebooks and became devalued.
At the moment, guide or training are each great lead magnets to offer people. (Note: the term “guide” or “training” should not stand alone but should be combined with other words, like:Insider’s Guide or Fast Action Training).
In some cases, a review or a done-for-you resource are have higher perceived value.