With the advertising world constantly changing, companies tend to hire an entire in-house staff or outsource ad projects to freelancers who work closely with them to provide expertly tailored content. For those freelancers, the work can be lucrative, but it takes some detailed planning and gumption to break into freelance advertising. Whether you’re a copywriter, a graphic designer, or a creative director, you need to be prepared to put in a lot of hard work to get your freelance career off the ground. Use the following tips to start making your plan.
Make Sure Freelancing Is What You Want to Do
You may have read stories of freelancers who work a few days a week, make six figures a year, and are able to travel, go to the gym, or spend the day with their families whenever they want. While this is possible, it’s not easy, and it’s certainly not going to happen right away. Freelancing also has the tendency to be unstable, especially while you’re getting off the ground. If you’re used to a stable weekly income, paid time off, health insurance, and other benefits, this isn’t for you. If you want to freelance but don’t want to jump into it headfirst, you should also consider moonlighting with some freelance work in the evenings until your work starts to take off and you can feel confident leaving your day job.
If you’re getting into freelance advertising, you’re going to be selling for a living. Selling yourself is the most important aspect of your job. From the beginning, you need to let potential clients know who you are and what you can do for them. Invest in a website where you showcase your portfolio, your services, any other clients you’ve worked for, and any testimonials you’ve received. After you have that setup, you will need to start cold-calling. Seek out any potential clients and call them or send them an email. Be prepared to get rejections, especially as you’re starting. You can direct interested people to your website so they can learn more about you.
Build a Portfolio
It is important to craft an online portfolio that people can use to reference your previous work. When you contact clients, you can show them samples of any work you’ve done, whether it was from a class project, other freelance work, or even just your own personal blog. If you don’t have previous work to showcase, that is fine. If you don’t have any samples to display on your website, don’t draw a potential client’s attention to that fact. Find a creative way to sell your work without it, such as by offering to do spec work that they can use to determine your skills and vision. Then, start looking for opportunities to build your portfolio. When you contact clients and someone expresses interest, offer to create some samples so that the company can get an idea of your capabilities before officially hiring you. This is also an effective way to build your portfolio and hone your skills.
Maintain Your Schedule and Flexibility
This works in several ways. First of all, you have to get your work balance and your life balance just right. It’s up to you as a freelancer to make sure you have work six months, a year, and further down the road. Even if you have enough work to keep you busy at the moment, you must always be planning ahead for what’s next. You should expect some hard times along the way, especially as you’re starting out and not commanding as much money as you might be able to once you’re more experienced. With that being said, try not to always be “on” when it comes to working. You have the ability to decide when and how much you want to work as a freelancer. It’s easy to fall into the habit of working late into the night and sleeping late the next morning or to work all the time trying to build your business.
Manage Your Finances
You need to decide if you’re going to charge by the hour or by the project, and then pick rates to go with either. You may ask lower rates as you get your business going, and as you become more skilled and experienced, you can likely command a higher price. Be sure you discuss the numbers with your client at the outset of a project and don’t forget to invoice the client and keep a copy of the invoice. It’s worthwhile to invest in a small-business finance program like MYOB or Quicken to help you keep track of your earnings.
Freelance advertising is worthwhile, but tricky, work. Consider what side of the business you want to hone in on and then start implementing these tips to get your business off the ground. Focus on building your business at first, and then once you get things up and running you can start modifying your schedule and commanding higher rates. If your business grows enough, you may even find you need to outsource some work or hire a small staff of your own.
Freelance Advertising Career Tips