All over the world, and particularly in Europe, more and more of the workforce want to break out of their daily grind. The traditional 9-to-5 model is losing ground to more flexible ways of working, like freelancing. Many people are taking the plunge, drawn to the prospect of more freedom and encouraged by the incentives available to make freelancing easier, not to mention the massive popularity of remote working in the digital sector.

In such a big pond, it can be difficult to find your place in the market as a freelancer. But never fear, we’re here to guide you. Here are eight tips to help you lay the groundwork for your freelance career.

#1 Ask the right questions

Ready to start your journey? Start by considering why you really want to go freelance. Is it to have more freedom, to choose your own projects, become your own boss, or make more money? Not everyone starts freelancing for the same reasons. Pinpointing your underlying motivations is an essential step for outlining your expectations and making sure they’re realistic. You’ll see more clearly and avoid unpleasant surprises.

#2 Find your niche

Before getting started, you need to figure out the niche that will set you apart from your competitors and make it easier to sell your services as a freelancer. First, make a list of your skills to find your domain of expertise. The aim is to carve out a specific market, without constraining yourself too much. Think about the problems your target clients have, and their needs that aren’t being met or are only partially met by current providers. Research these clients in detail so you can assess the potential size of your core market. By following this method, you can find a profitable niche you can use to position yourself when you’re starting as a freelancer.

“Freelancing can give you the flexibility you’ve always dreamed of, but there are a few rules to follow.”

#3 Create and develop your brand

Know which market you want to start in? The next step is to create your brand. Whether you choose to sell your services under a snappy new name or use your own name, you need to take your brand and its identity seriously. It’s the name that will embody your values, demonstrate your professionalism and inspire confidence in your future clients. Think about what your brand says about you and your services. Once you’ve chosen a name, connect it to a visual identity you can use on your business cards, website or your letterhead.

#4 Set your prices

Fair pricing for your services is another key step to ensuring your success as a freelancer, and there are a few things to consider. Start by deciding how much you want to earn, taking into account expenses and costs, but also non-working time or quiet periods when you won’t generate the same income. Take a look at your competitors’ prices, and set yours at a level that’s consistent with your positioning. Consider an hourly rate for shorter jobs, and a day rate for longer-term assignments. And follow the golden rules of freelancing for beginners: don’t sell yourself short and never work for free! It will give your work a cheap image, and a cheap image won’t pay your bills.

#5 Find your future clients

To start, decide who your ideal clients are. Even if you aren’t working for them at the beginning, you’ll at least have a clear idea of the kind of people you want to target. This will help you identify where to put your marketing efforts and choose the jobs that will bring you closer to your goals. Generally, it’s best to start by marketing yourself to local clients. You can always develop an international network later, once you’ve established yourself on the domestic market.

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#6 Create an attractive portfolio

Once you have a few clients and you’ve got a few projects under your belt, you need to put your work out there to attract prospective clients and better sell your services. Create a dedicated section on your website to give people a glimpse of your projects and the clients you’ve worked for. You can also print a portfolio to bring with you to client meetings. Think about asking regular clients for testimonials. By displaying your experience, you’ll gain the confidence of your prospective clients and boost your credibility.

#7 Use the right tools to communicate

When you start off as a freelancer, getting the right tools to communicate with your clients and collaborators is essential. To keep business coming in, you need to present a professional image in all situations – without breaking the bank. Get the right tools from the beginning, like a reliable telephony solution that provides enterprise-class call management features and ensures you’re reachable on any device. By choosing plans adapted to your needs, you can even bring down your phone bill. And if you want to avoid wasting time travelling to visit your clients in person, start meeting via audio or video instead. It’s a cost-effective solution that will save time and gain efficiency, without the need for travel.

#8 Develop your social media presence

Social media is an infinite resource. You can post about yourself and your services, but also talk to experts in your industry, follow your clients and the brands that interest you, or keep an eye on your competition. If you don’t have the time to manage multiple social media accounts, focus on the network where most of your clients are, and expand your presence on others when you have more time.

You have all the information you need. Now all that’s left is to get started!