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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.
In marketing, one of the worst statements you can make about a product is that it does everything. People respond best to specific proposals. Then they can just say, "Yes, I need that," or "No, I don't." They don't have to think too hard about it. So, you'll have to be specific about what you do and who your market is. There's a worksheet in your Exercise Files called Market-Focus to help you identify what your ideal target markets will be. You can think of your business as being in a space with three axes. They are, the skill you're selling, the industry you'll target, and the type of customer you'll sell to.
If you make these definitions too narrow, you'll end up describing too small a market, perhaps only one potential client. But if you make them too broad, you won't be able to focus your efforts. It will take some time in the market to get it right. But don't worry, that will come. We'll start with skill. At first, I recommend that you go with the things that you're good at, have experience in, and enjoy doing. So, take me. I'm a writer. When I got started I realized that I was good at explaining things, I had experienced writing non-fiction, and I enjoyed delivering information directly.
So I started with educational writing. A lot like the course I'm delivering right now. I didn't try to sell myself as a writer of political speeches or TV comedies. Although those are perfectly good ways to make a living, they just didn't match my skills. It's sort of like selling on eBay. If you look at the top sellers, you'll see that they specialize in fairly small areas. They get good at those specific areas, and just as important, they get known as the experts in those areas, and that's what you want.
That brings us to the second axis, the industry you'll become a part of. As before, you'll look at a few criteria. First, what industry do you know something about? Is there one where you're known where your name already has value? And is there enough work for people of your skill in this industry? The final axis is your audience. That is, the kind of customer you'll sell to. Some freelancers sell directly to the people who will ultimately benefit from their services, what are called consumers or end-users.
But a lot of business comes from selling to organizations who in turn deliver benefits to their end-users. For those markets, one criterion I pay a lot of attention to is customer size measured in the number of employees. That will drastically affect how you work. For example, if you're dealing with a three-person company, you'll probably work directly with the owner. But for a major corporation you might have to go through several layers of administration. Also important is the stage of your target company; whether it's a start-up or an established corporation, and the sort of involvement the company typically expects.
Some will be happy with just one off project work, while others might expect a monthly commitment. Which is better? It's up to you and your work style. By the way, consumers also have stages. The way you position yourself will depend on what the market actually needs, and you'll continue to discover that while you freelance. So, keep revisiting your worksheet as you go. If you're not getting enough work or you're not getting the kind of work you want, make adjustments as needed.
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