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In this course, author and seasoned freelancer Tom Geller shows you how to prepare for a transition to freelancing. Begin by taking a look at your career goals, the systems that will support you, and proper ways to plan for success. Find out how to marshal your resources, refine your portfolio for presentation to clients, and estimate your costs to avoid any surprises on the financial front. Plus, discover how to create invoices, manage your books and taxes, expand your client base with marketing, and grow your business.
A bonus chapter covers common questions freelancers have when entering the field.
I've emphasized how essential people are to your freelance career. They give you guidance, expand your capabilities, and help you get clients; but your professional network does have its limits, especially if you're moving into an unfamiliar area. Let's talk about how to reach an audience if you don't already have contacts within it. You'll have to get inside this new group, first by identifying it and then by gaining allies there. Here are three ways to do this: The first has the lowest barrier to entry. Get to know the unfamiliar field as well as you can through online research.
Find out who is important in it, where its practitioners hangout, what is important to them and the terms they use to describe themselves. You need to know both the subject and the culture surrounding it to get your foot in the door. Then find and read active online discussions in that community and contribute when you feel ready. Relationships naturally form this way, as you get to know them and they get to know you. The second method is to research the new field, then approach someone for what is called an informational interview.
Make it as low commitment as possible and make it absolutely clear that you're looking only for advice, not a job. I know it sounds unlikely, but think of it. If you got an email from someone nicely asking you for a little advice in your area of expertise, wouldn't you provide it? And if they were local and offered to buy you lunch, wouldn't you take it? The third method is to research the area then get to know the people involved through real world group meetings. I found the trade shows are great for this because the mix of exhibitors tells you exactly what's important in a given area.
But user groups, trade association meetings, parties, and lunches are all good as well. Again, you're not there to sell. Rather you're there to figure out who wants to buy what you're offering or how to change it, so they will. So, you found your new audience, how do you reach them? Here are a few ways: If all is gone well with your research and interactions, you'll have gained new contacts and the field is no longer outside your professional network, so you can just market your services as usual.
But if you haven't gained that foothold, you'll want to use online methods to drive this new audience to your website. There are free ways to do that along with paid advertising such as Google AdWords. lynda.com has courses for both types of marketing. Then there's the whole world of traditional advertising: radio, TV, prints, billboards, direct mail, you name it. These are the marketing methods most people think of first, but I would encourage you think of them last. They are usually the most expensive and least target specific.
We started out with the idea that you would go outside your network, but in reality, you're pulling new targets into it. The results are the same though: you gain access to new audiences for your services.
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