With more than 1.5 billion people around the world identifying as freelancers in 2022, according to World Bank; technology has again proved that it’s possible to start a freelance business and make money online.
Unlike years ago where corporate employment placed limits on people; today, from Africa to Europe, Asia to America and Australia, millions of entrepreneurs have embraced freelancing as an avenue to create gainful employment that’s transformed their lives.
The flexibility that comes with freelancing has given freelancers the chance to live life on their own terms. It has also empowered millions of ordinary people and experts alike, to live their best lives while pursuing their highest dreams.
With this reality, more and more entrepreneurs have positioned themselves to become freelancers, selling their skills and providing digital solutions to businesses within and outside their localities.
And in this post, I am going to show you the steps and how you can start a freelance business in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, regardless of your location.
Set Out Your Goal
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One of the first steps to start a freelance business is to set out your goal or simply put, the things you plan to achieve as a freelancer.
The primary reason you need this is so that your goal can help you to shape your business model, pricing and other details that has to do with the business.
Having clear goals for your freelancing business will help you to identify your priorities, create strategies you can use to achieve these priorities and then give you the right KPIs to measure your success correctly.
Without this in place, it might get really difficult to attain any measurable success.
Identify Your skills
So, now that you have set out your freelance business goals, the next step to start a freelance business is to identify your core skills.
To get started, you want to identify and evaluate your current skills, experiences or special abilities…
Get two different plain sheets of paper. On each paper, rule a straight vertical line from the top to the bottom of the sheet.
On one side of the sheet, list out each of the skills and abilities you have, based on your level of expertise, experience or exposure.
On the opposite side, write down your estimated level of exposure, expertise and or experience with the skills within the range of 1-100, with 100 being the highest level.
Now for the next step…
Begin to think about the list you have before you critically. Looking at your list, alongside your laid down goals, which of the skills you listed down can really get you to achieve the goals you’ve laid out in step one above?
Find out the exact skills and begin to list them down in a separate sheet. Write out each of these skills until you’ve exhausted them.
PS: Not all skills and experiences are sellable. Where you don’t have marketable skills, you can get to learn them.
Find a Need
Now that you have listed out your top skills, the next step you want to take to start a freelance business is to identify a need that people are currently looking out for solutions.
A need is a problem that people are currently looking for a solution which you can provide and get paid in return for your services. Or a product that people are willing to buy.
To some people and depending on the level of your skills, this need may revolve around services like Content Writing, Graphics Design, Search Engine Optimization, Business Consulting, etc.
You have to find out the market demand for any product or skill you have in mind and then gauge these alongside the skills you were able to identify in step two above.
Tools like Google Search, Google Keyword tool, Ubersuggest etc. can give you a clear idea on services that people are actively searching online.
In addition to that, you can also check up freelancing sites like Fiverr, Freelancer, Truelancer etc. to get a better idea about services that are in demand.
To get this done, right, you need to research this need then line up each of them in a list against your level of expertise in your chosen skill.
Before settling for any of them, find out your level of competence, the level of competition in that niche and the number of people actively searching for those services.
Doing this will give you great ideas in choosing the right services for your freelancing business.
Identify a Target Audience
So, who’s your target audience? Who are the people actively searching for this solution you want to offer?
This is one of the important questions you have to ask yourself before you can get to start a freelance business on a good note.
You need to have a good knowledge of your target audience, know who they are, where they are, what they want and how best you can serve them.
A tool like Google analytics, Facebook page analytics etc. can get you started on this.
Also at this stage, you have to conduct a decent market research to find out how other freelancers offering similar services are charging or offering those services.
Here’s a complete guide on how to price your freelance business. This guide will be very helpful in that aspect.
Create a Solution
After identifying your target audience and their specific needs, you want to create a solution that will work for them. This is a very important step you’ll have to take, as you journey to start a freelance business.
And you have to revolve your solutions around the specific needs of your target audience. For example, where your target audience are businesses in need of graphics design, your solution has to revolve around creating a graphics design services that will work for them.
Now, considering you already have the data on your target audience based on your research in step four above, you want to use this data to create a solution that will be custom fit for this audience.
Considering their geographic location and other factors, set up your solution and come up with a pricing that will work for them.
PS: keep in mind that whatever result you have from your market research will definitely affect the outcome of your solution.
Create a Brand
As a you get set to start a freelance business, it doesn’t matter whether you’re running your business as a solopreneur or not, you need to create a brand for your business.
This is very important because a lot of potential clients will want to understand your brand before getting to do business with you.
So, this step is where you go about creating your freelancing business brand.
Starting from your social media, choose your brand colors, select a professional picture to represent your brand, set up your bio and put together a list of your existing portfolio.
Also, ensure you get a website for your freelancing business. This is very important in terms of branding. And we can get you a website to start your freelance business if you reach out to us.
Here’s a complete guide on how to set up your brand as a freelancer.
Create a Business Plan
Yes, you need a business plan to start a freelance business.
Now don’t get startled yet. Your business plan doesn’t have to be something elaborate. All you need do here is to write down the most important steps you need to take to get your freelance business started.
So, to get on with this, you want to map out your strategy. Are you launching on your social media or your website? How do you want to promote the business?
How do you get your first few clients and how do you intend to make them come back to do business with you?
These are some of the questions that your business plan should answer.
This guide here will give you a more detailed clue on how to set up your freelance business plan.
Promote your Services
It is not enough to start a freelance business, you have to promote your business, get the word out and get your services right in front of your audience.
There are many ways you can go about to promote your freelancing business which can include either paid or free promotional options. For example, one of the primary ways to promote your freelance business can be through the use of paid or organic promotion.
Paid promotion involves the use of paid ads either on social media, search engine like Google, Bing and other popular websites etc.
Organic promotion involves the use of other strategies like content marketing, social media marketing, guest posting, SEO, link building etc to promote your freelancing business.
Depending on affordability and your goal, you can choose to use either of these avenues to promote your business.
Just like any other business, starting a freelance business may not be all beds of roses but as someone that’s been there for over more than half a decade, I can assure you, that starting a freelance business is very realistic.
With dedication to your business and a commitment to learn and relearn as you keep evolving there’s room for all round growth.
As you set out to get started with your freelancing business, always remember that you’re here to provide a solution for your target clients. Focus on this. Keep in mind to analyze the effectiveness of each strategic step you take at intervals.
To understand if what you do is working or not, always find time to measure your outcome against your goals. This is very important.
To avoid repetition of mundane tasks, create systems that works. Repeat them where they work and drop the ones that don’t.
So, there you have the strategic steps on how to start a freelance business and live life on your own terms. And you can reach out here let’s help you if you need further guide to get started.
Now, it’s over to you! What’s the greatest challenge you’ve ever faced while trying to set up your freelance business? Drop your answers in the comments section.