How to Start a Freelance Business from Home

How to Start a Freelance Business From Home

Do you want to make money from home, but you aren’t sure where to start?

If you’re anything like I was nine years ago, you’re desperate to find a way to stay home with your kids, but opting for just one-income would be impossible for your family.

Fortunately, in today’s world, there’s no reason why it has to be one or the other. If you want to make money, you don’t have to leave your house for a corporate 9-5 every day, and if you want to stay home with your kids, you don’t have to give up all hope of an income.

The truth is, you can do both

I know this because I’ve made it happen. After my daughter was born nine years ago, I took the plunge and started shop as a freelance writer. Since that time, I’ve written content for hundreds of clients across the Internet, eventually pulling in more money than I ever did with my previous job. 

My story is not an unusual one. 

As a matter of fact, a 2018 Gallup poll found that freelancers make up 36% of the workforce. Freelancing is a wonderful option for moms who want to take control of their lives, their income, and the amount of work they’re willing to do. 

If you want to start a freelance job, the sky’s the limit! 

I started The Freelancing Mama because I’m passionate about helping moms like you learn the tools you need so you can start your own business. It’s my mission to help you start your own successful freelance business so you can have more freedom and flexibility in your life. 

It’s my hope that this quick guide will give you the tools you need to get your business off the ground. 

Sound good? Let’s dive in.

Why Freelancing?

woman working from home on computer

Freelancing has so many great benefits that I think make it an especially good choice for moms who want to stay home with their kids. Not convinced? Here are some of my favorite benefits:

You control your workload

As a parent, there are all sorts of seasons of life. Some in which we have lots of free time and others where there’s barely time to scarf down lunch.

If you’re in a corporate job, these busy seasons don’t change, but they are infinitely more difficult.

If you’ve been up with the baby every night for the past week – OH WELL. You still have to get up in the morning and head to work.

As a freelancer, you won’t feel this pressure! If you’re overwhelmed or stressed out, simply take on fewer clients, or take the day off. Then, when things are better on the home front, you can take on more work as you’re able.

Flexibility

There are few jobs as flexible as freelancing.

Are you an early bird who likes to get work done right away? Great! Prefer to burn the midnight oil? Go for it!

As a freelancer, you can get your work done at a time that is convenient for you. This gives you the freedom to focus on your kids when they need your attention.

Unlimited earning potential

As a freelancer, the sky’s the limit when it comes to your earning potential.

At your old job, you likely had a set salary or hourly wage, and that was it, no matter how hard you worked. This is not true with freelancing.

Once you’ve got your business established, you’ll find that the more you work, the more money you’ll make.

How to Choose Your Freelance Job

how to start a freelance business

Freelancing is a broad term that can encompass so many different areas of business. As a freelancer, you’ll provide your time and services for a person or business in need, but what you do is entirely up to you!

I’m a freelance writer, and while it may be true that writing is one of the most common freelance professions, it’s far from the only one!

Here are some freelance businesses you may want to consider:

  • Photographer
  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Virtual assistant
  • Bookkeeper
  • Social media manager
  • ESL instructor
  • Tutor
  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer

The list goes on!

If you’d like a little more info as to what some of these freelance options are, check out my blog post, The Top 10 Freelancing Jobs for Moms.

So how do you choose what to do?

Here’s where I want you to grab a notebook and your favorite pen, and brainstorm some answers to the following questions:

a.   What do you love to do?

b.   What are you an expert in?

c.   What do you love helping people with?

d.   What comes easy to you but is difficult for others?

e.   What do people ask for your help with all the time?

f.     What kind of people do you want to help?

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box here. If there’s something you can do that others have to do too, chances are they will pay you for it.

Another note here is to not feel limited to provide a service. If you’re a great teacher, consider establishing a business in which you tutor, mentor, or coach others who need to do something that may be outside their depth of knowledge.

Setting up Your Website

woman working from home on computer

Once you’ve decided on the freelance business you want to do, it’s time to get ready for clients.

If you want to lend yourself credibility and establish yourself as a professional in your field, you need a website. While it may not be technically necessary, I can’t recommend enough that you take the time to set one up for your new freelancing business.

Why?

As a freelancer online, you’ll likely have a lot of competition, no matter what field you’re in. That’s not a bad thing – there’s plenty of work to go around – but it does mean you need to do things that make you look like you’re serious about your work. A website is one of those things.

If a potential client has several pitches or a handful of applicants for a job, he’ll want to look and see a little bit about each person before choosing who to hire. A website provides that window into your work and it even offers some reassurance that you are who you say you are and you’re serious about your work.

Have no idea how to set up a website? Don’t panic! There are plenty of tutorials online – like this one – that can help you through this process.

If you have any kind of web design knowledge or have blogged in the past, you may be comfortable setting up a site on WordPress.

WordPress is kind of the ultimate in the web design space – the majority of sites you see online are built on this platform (including this one).

In order to build a site on WordPress, you’ll have to purchase a domain name and pay for web hosting, but if you’re used to this process, it’s a seamless and easy way to get any kind of site you want.

As you’re building your website, there are several key things you should make sure to add:

  • Your photo (clients love to put a face with a name)
  • A bit about you and any professional experience you may have
  • Exactly what you’re offering
  • Samples or a portfolio
  • Any testimonials you may have
  • A clear and easy way to contact you

As you’re putting things together, don’t be afraid to sell yourself! Clients need to know why they should hire you instead of someone else. Don’t be afraid to convince them that you’re the best gal for the job.

There’s one other thing you should consider when you’re setting up your website: your domain name. When you create a website, you need to choose the name that people will type into the search bar to find you. 

You can choose a business name for yourself and then use that as your url (for example, thebestfreelancephotographer.com). Or, you could opt to just use your personal name as your brand (www.yournamehere.com). 

I prefer the name route because it helps establish you as a professional freelancer, and it gives your business a personal touch which is important when you’re working with clients. However, the choice really boils down to personal preference. 

Set Your Prices

One of the most daunting parts of starting a freelancing business is figuring out what to charge, especially if you’re brand new. You don’t want to shortchange yourself, but you may also be feeling the pull to make money as quickly as possible, and you’re worried about scaring away potential clients with prices that are too high.

When you work as a freelancer, there are a couple of ways you can approach pricing. You can charge per hour, or you can charge per project.

I always charge per project, and for the most part, I think you should too.

Here’s the main reason: charging per hour is incredibly difficult if you’re a stay at home mom. Even when I have dedicated work time to sit down at my computer and get stuff done, I can guarantee you that someone will come in looking for a snack or one of my kids will have a problem and I’ll need to put my work on pause so I can sort it out.

If you’re the person in charge at home, you can’t charge hourly and expect to put in an honest hour’s work.

For me, one of the reasons that I wanted to start freelancing was so that I could be available to my kids when they need me. If you’re paid on a project by project basis rather than an hourly wage, you’ll receive a fair payment no matter how long (or quickly) it takes you to complete the project.

Charging clients per project also allows you to scale up your business quickly and get paid premium prices for the work that you’re doing.

How Much to Charge?

I can’t tell you specifically how much to charge for your services, especially since I don’t know what kind of freelance work you’ll be doing. 

This is where a little sleuthing on your part is helpful. Use Google and start to dig deep into the Internet, looking for others who may be offering services similar to yourself. Not all of them will have rates listed on their websites, but some will. Take a look and see if you can offer better for a bigger price.

You’ll also need to sit down and consider how long you think it would take you to complete each project (without interruption).

What would be a fair hourly wage? Do you need to use any resources or services that are costing you money in order to complete the job? Keep these figures in mind as you map out a quote for a client.

When you’re just starting out, it’s very tempting to offer top-quality work at rock-bottom rates. You may be nervous or lack the confidence that you’ll be able to cut it as a professional. It makes sense, but I’m warning you not to do this.

Consider: Would you rather make $3000 / month working 60 hours a week, or 20 hours a week?

When you charge higher prices, you’ll be able to take on less work and make more money than you would be charging out project after project and working your tail off. That’s not the kind of financial freedom we’re looking for.

It’s fine to scale up your prices from time to time, but it’s hard to go from offering very low prices at first to all of a sudden charging a whole lot more.

By starting out with a reasonable quote for your hard work, you’ll attract clients willing to pay those prices right off the bat. 

And let me tell you a secret – it’s often the people looking to pay pennies who are the most difficult to work with! 

Ask for a fair wage and you’ll command respect and attract clients willing to pay for what they’re getting.

Finding Clients

OK! You know what business you’re going to be offering and you even have a nifty looking website set up. Now what?

A business is only a business if you’re serving clients, so let’s get out there and get some!

Here are some of the ways you can do that:

Job Boards

There are lots of places online that post jobs specifically for freelancers. Some are good, and some aren’t so good, so it may take a little time to find those that are relevant to you.

Job boards are showing an increasing amount of freelance positions available because companies are starting to realize what a valuable asset freelancers are.

Start poking around on places like MediaBistro, Indeed, and Freelancer.com to find appropriate jobs to apply for.

Of course, some of these may or may not work for you depending on the freelance service you’re offering, but they’re a great place to start.

LinkedIn

If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, head over there and make one pronto. Not only is LinkedIn a great place for you to showcase your experience and portfolio, but it’s also a mover and shaker in connecting freelancers with potential clients. 

I’ll tell you that I’ve done nothing to promote myself on LinkedIn, yet I regularly have people emailing me asking about my freelance writing services.

This is all just because my title and job description indicate that I’m a freelance writer.

These are potential clients contacting me without any work on my part. Imagine if I took the time to promote myself and look for clients! 

LinkedIn is also a great way for all your friends, acquaintances, and former colleagues to learn that you’re now in business as a freelancer. 

When I was just getting started, I got a lot of work from college friends who were working in the corporate world and needed a writer to fulfill some online content needs. 

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for leveraging your network and connections, so as a freelancer it’s in your best interest to make use of it.

Word of Mouth

Don’t discount the powerful impact of word-of-mouth advertising. Once you’ve set up your freelance business, spread the word to your friends and family.

When you meet someone at a barbecue or you’re asked the age-old small-talk question, “So what do you do?”, answer truthfully!

You never know when you’ll meet someone who’s in need of exactly what you’re offering.

Cold Pitching

The idea of pitching your services without any prior introduction can sound daunting, but it’s actually one of the best ways to score clients.

A cold pitch means that you reach out to a business or organization with an email offering your services. It’s important that your pitch doesn’t focus on yourself, but instead focuses on what your service will do for the business. 

Make them see why hiring you is in their best interest.

Cold pitching won’t always get you a response. In fact, more often than not you’ll probably be ignored. But, you can score some fantastic, high-paying clients this way.

I especially love the idea of cold pitching to local clients, because you’re able to give them a personal connection.

Let’s take this scenario: You’re a web designer who wants to offer packages to businesses who may be in need of a new website. One of the best ways to find new clients is to look at local restaurants or businesses who don’t have a website (or have a very poorly designed site) and let them know what you can do to help them.

Restaurants and service-based businesses (think plumbers, electricians, handymen, and the like), are usually very good candidates for this kind of business.

Send out a cold pitch, convince them why it’s in their best interest to have a high-performing website, and even schedule a meet-and-greet so they feel like they are getting a personal touch for what you’re offering.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the sky’s the limit here!

Getting Paid

You’ve finally scored that first client – congratulations! There are just a few more things to do to ensure you have a positive experience.

Set up PayPal

If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to set up a PayPal account. PayPal is the best way to send invoices and receive payment from your client. Make sure you register for a business account since you are working as a business.

When you use PayPal there might be a fee associated with using their services, but this is just one of the costs that come with doing business.

Open a separate bank account

Since you’ll now have a freelance income, it makes things much easier to set up a separate bank account for your payments. From there, you can pay yourself, but also make sure you set aside some money for taxes. 

I am not an accountant or a lawyer so I can’t advise you what to do about taxes, except to say – you do have to pay them, so don’t forget about them!

Having a separate account will make things much easier for you when tax time rolls around.

Draft a Contract

In order to proceed in a professional manner and ensure that you get paid, you’ll want to draw up a simple contract. This verifies everything you’ve discussed with the client and confirms that you’re on the same page. 

You don’t need to worry about anything formal for this process. Even a simple email stating your terms, conditions, and pay works to ensure that you have it all in writing. You should also be clear upfront about when you expect payment.

Enjoy your success!

If you follow these steps, you’ll find that it is possible to start a freelancing business that you love. 

Once you have those first few clients, make sure to go above and beyond what they’ve asked of you. This means clear communication and getting things in ahead of deadlines. 

By going the extra mile, you’re showing the client that you’re serious about your business. You’re also setting yourself up for repeat customers and good testimonials!

While there are a lot of freelancers out there, good freelancers are hard to find. Put forth your best effort and you’ll find yourself with plenty of work. 

2 thoughts on “How to Start a Freelance Business From Home”

  1. This is a great guide to how to start a freelance business! I started freelance writing as a side hustle and then grew it into a business, with no clue what I was doing! I just knew I needed to make money to take care of my kids as a single mom. But freelancing is great for moms because of the flexibility and the income-earning potential–I highly recommend it.

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Hi, I’m Bridget Sielicki. 

I’m a freelance writer and a mom of four. For the past 10 years, I’ve been working from home as a freelance writer, creating content for major brands like Hertz Car Rental, Bankrate.com, and Credit Sesame.

Working from home has been a dream come true for me. Now I want to share my expertise with you, so you can make money while you’re home with your own kids. Learn more here.

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