How to Thrive, Not Just Survive, as a Freelancer
Facilitated by Suzy Bills
Finding More Clients
- Be willing to let everyone you know that you’re a freelancer. (Do it in an approachable, casual way, doesn’t have to be pushy.)
- Be willing to bring it up in conversation.
- Put it in your email signature (a blurb or title).
- Have a LinkedIn account (a way to seek out opportunities and a way to have people find you).
- Go beyond just profile—have name, blurb (be confident), all filled out (experience, recommendations, etc.).
- Be involved in some of the groups on LinkedIn (BYU alumni group, professional groups—specifically for type of work you want to do, etc.). Search a term, groups will come up in your search.
- A lot of websites to help you leverage your account on Linked In
- Keep your skills up as a freelancer.
- Join LinkedIn groups—people post articles, ask questions, providing feedback, see what trends are related to industry and topic.
- Interacting on those boards is also helpful to gain clients (see your professionalism as you interact).
- Join other professional groups (paid and free).
- Read blogs and other website content.
- Use social media marketing: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
- Don’t need to be on all, just choose what you think is most valuable to you, and spend time on those.
- Example: Post on your fb page when a project is done (cover, editing, etc.).
- Pass out business cards.
- Hand out to people you meet. Response time not within the week, often longer. (Most people you talk to aren’t ready right away for your services, but they will be within 18 months.)
- Build a website.
- Most people don’t find her through her website, but once they hear of you, they will go there.
- Helps people feel more comfortable to work with you if they’ve never met you. Makes you feel real.
- Having a picture of yourself on your site leads to more business (make sure it’s professional).
- On your website, list the services you provide, a short bio, a call to action on every page—lead them closer to contacting you/working with you. (Home: brief overview of what you do, contact me know, with link to contact; or check out my services with link to service page.)
- Doesn’t need to be fancy; there are lots of free options: WordPress, Wix, Weebly, etc.
- Attend conferences.
- Go to conferences/meetings where your clients are. (LTUE, LDStorymakers, Indie Author Hub, FanX, SL Comi-con, etc.) Authors talk to each other, word spreads.
- Focus on word of mouth/referrals—this strategy is the most effective once you get going.
- After her first year, no more marketing, just business from referrals. Word of mouth markets for you.
- Encourage the snowball effect: ask for referrals, make sure your clients know referrals are welcome (add to invoice: thank you for letting me work with you, please feel free to share my contact info with others). Another good time: when they thank you for working with you (whenever they give you compliments).
- Give incentives: %20 off first project, bulk discount (write three posts instead of one), referral discount, etc.
- Join an association for type of work you want.
- There are many options for editing/design/typesetting/marketing, etc. (Editorial Freelancers Association—there’s a job board there with opportunities). Copyediting.com jobboard there. American Copyeditors Society has job board. You can have your profile posted on their websites if you’re a member.
- The more your name is out there, the more likely people are to see it and contact you.
- Offer additional services to current clients.
- Word of mouth and repeat work is most effective. Add services to current clients (writing, but also editing; editing but also designing, etc. Or expand current role: one blog post, expand to six months so it can be strategic).
- Choose an appropriate business name.
- You can file a name with US government (fee), registering your business name. You can also trademark it (but not as legally binding).
- If it’s a common name, not worried about others using it, don’t worry about it.
- Use your name in business name for easier connection, make it simple, no interesting spellings.
- You can look on US copyright website to see if your name is already copyrighted. Getting a URL helps you know if your name has already been used. (Search name online.)
- Maybe use poll on social media to help pick name; using a poll is also a marketing strategy. (Could use multiple book design options as poll online as well as marketing tool.)
- If they are disrespectful when first meeting, there might be future problems (would you enjoy working with them?). Maybe steer clear—will they pay you?
- If they are trying to really bargain with you/get you to decrease prices, that can be a signal there will be trouble in the future with them being unwilling to pay you.
- Payment problems resolved with a contract. Always use a contract! (Here’s a sample.) Using a contract makes others feel you are more professional. Have everything in the contract: due date, service provided detailed (be as detailed as possible), price, when paying it (up front percentage, etc.).
- Because she is not a tax professional, she recommends talking to a tax professional!
- You need to plan for taxes in advance. 15.3% of income for self employment taxes. You need to set aside self employment tax, income tax, health insurance, etc. As you set rates, plan in taxes. Quarterly estimated tax payment if freelancing full time instead of once in April. If you don’t do quarterly, you’ll be charged a late fee. It doesn’t have to be an exact amount—you estimate how much you’ll make in a year, divide by 4. Lots of sites online—IRS.gov on self employment tax. Tax calculators, etc.
- Each month, save money for taxes; include taxes in your budget to cover quarterly taxes.
- If freelancing on the side (and have a full time job)—if you only make a little $$, then taxes from other job will probably cover it.
- If you’re married, filing jointly, and only do a little freelancing on the side, then the taxes deducted from your spouse’s wages might cover your freelancing income (i.e., you won’t need to pay quarterly taxes).
- You can find a lot of tax tips for freelancers by searching the Internet; irs/gov has a lot of helpful info. Also check out YouTube.
Finding Printers (Steve Piersanti)
- Printers of self-published books congregate at the IBPA conference, which is in SLC April 8–9, 2016; lots of booths (session in morning with LDSPPA).