The Practical Guide: Freelancing (Part Two)

Check out the previous session in this Freelancing mini-series, Part One: Gaining Experience.

Building and Preparing Your Business

Gaining freelancing experience is likely to take months and years – it’s a slow process, but it’s a work in progress. The more experience you get, the better the quality of your work (hopefully), and the faster you will be able to start really “selling yourself”. And to properly sell yourself, you need a game plan.

Until you start making serious money from your freelancing gigs, you do not need to register yourself as a small business. That being said,┬ámake an appointment with an accountant to discuss your business expenses and income. They’ll be able to advise you on how to set up a business to make sure that everything you are doing is legal – for example, once you make a certain amount of money from your gigs, you will need to pay taxes.

Most likely, you will be working primarily from home. You need to create your very own at-home office! Equipment that you will need includes:

– Computer or laptop: I own a laptop, which I find is a much better purchase than a desktop computer because I can take it with me anywhere I need to be.

– Printer, ink cartridges, and paper: A small printer will do just fine for your home. You never know when you need to print something out, so it’s preferable to own a printer than to go to a shop to print materials.

– Invoice layout: An invoice should have your client’s name and business address, your name and address, your SIN, the project title/description, and the amount owed, as well as the date. You will need to give an invoice to each of your clients and you should keep copies for your own records, too.

– Receipt book: Go to Staples or another office supplies store for a small receipt book. You should give each client a receipt after you have completed the job and after you have received payment for your work.

– Pens, pencils, notebook: Obvious essentials for being at home or on the road! You will also need these items in order to keep track of your hours.

– Timer: Always keep track of how much time you spend on every project, no matter if you are being paid by the hour or by the word. You need to do this so that you can see how much time to allow yourself for future projects, and so that you can more accurately judge how much you should charge in the future.

– Hole-puncher, stapler, paper cutter, shredder, paper clips: Basic office equipment for anyone working from home.

– Flash drive and hard drive: Back up your work. You won’t regret backing it up, but you will regret not backing it up if you lose all your work from your computer crashing!

– Resume and a selection of writing samples to give to a prospective client in case they’re interested: I am currently working on creating a binder which will include all of my published work, but in the meantime I have a few articles which I am particularly proud of that show my adeptness in a number of fields. Have writing samples ready to show at any time. They should also be updated regularly.

– Business cards: Before I had ever done my first paid freelancing gig, I made up business cards that said I was a freelance writer and editor. This achieved two things: first, it brought home to me that I was serious about it and that this was my job; and second, it made it more accessible for others to reach me when I started giving out business cards to everyone I knew. Business cards demonstrate professionalism. It is tangible evidence of your credibility.

Do you have any other necessities for building a freelancing business? Leave your ideas and must-haves in the comments section below!