THE BLOG
01/11/2017 09:54 am ET Updated Jan 11, 2018

10 Steps to Launching a Freelance Business

If launching a freelance business is on your list of goals in 2017, there are a few things that you'll need to get in place to be successful. This post is a checklist of tasks to build a freelance business. Launching a freelance side-hustle is a good way to test the waters. Use this list your freelance business in no time.

Step 1: Nail Down Your Business Idea
Freelance businesses tend to be service businesses, like writing, make-up artistry, social media marketing, accounting, graphics or web design. Also think about what you know that you can sell. Knowing your skillset can guide you in the right direction to deciding what you want to specialize in.

Step 2: Do Your Research
It important for you to understand the trends in your industry, you need to do market research to understand the market, your target customers, as well as your competitors. Find gaps in what others provide so that you can fill an unmet need.

Step 3: Buy a Domain
Your website is your #1 sales tool. The best way to be taken seriously as a freelancer is to have your own website with samples of your work. Fortunately, domain names are pretty reasonably priced. Consider the name you want for your site: maybe your name or keywords that identify your specialty, like AtlantaAccountingExpert.com.

Step 4: Hire a Professional Web Designer
Your website is an indicator of how professional you are, so don't do it yourself. Hire a professional web designer to help you with your site. Have some examples of websites you like ready to use as a reference. Be sure to use a contract that includes a timeline for delivery and how many initial designs and revisions you will get. Never pay for a website before the work is finished.

Step 5: Get an Employer Identification Number
If you want to establish a real business entity having an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, is a good idea. It's simple and easy to get it from www.IRS.gov. You need to use either your EIN for important business documents and to open a business bank account. Having an EIN number also keeps you from making your social security number vulnerable.

Step 6: Open a Business Bank Account
You need a bank account for your business. Mixing business and personal expenses just makes taxes and accounting messy and disorganized, so set up a separate business account. Set aside one credit card that you use just for business purchases as well. Remember, your business bank and your personal bank should be different banks.

Step 7: Write a Plan
Every good business starts with a plan. Your business plan should outline your overall business strategy, including the services you'll offer and who your trying to target as customers. Your marketing plan should layout how you'll reach those customers. The financials will outline your initial sales projections and clarify all of your business costs.

Step 8: Join Freelance Websites

Business development will be key to business success. One of the best ways to find freelance gigs is through job boards like UpWork. You should create profiles on sites that cater to people looking for project based freelancers. If you do this work up front finding new business once you're ready to launch.

Step 9: Get The Word Out
Your personal and professional network is a great place to start in getting the word out about your new freelance business. Start reaching out to your network at least 12 months before your start your business. Let them know that you'll be launching your freelance business, and that you would appreciate any referrals or introductions.

Step 10: Plan Your Launch
It's important to create a buzz around the launch of your freelance business. You could hold a party locally, shoot a Facebook Live video, send out an email blast or offer killer freebies on Opening Day. Just plan ahead for whatever the launch will entail.

Once you run through the steps, you should celebrate your new status as a freelancer. You've put in the hard work, and now you're ready to tell the world about your freelance business. Keep in mind, that you'll need to consistently put yourself out there to build your brand. But once you've proven your skills, your customers will come back and refer you more work.

This article was originally published as 17 Steps to Launching a Freelance Business in 2017 on www.succeedasyourownboss.com