On the 5th of January 2015, thousands of people will be going freelance in some form or another. A fresh start, a change in direction, a new focus, talk of a double dip recession or just the arbitrary false deadline of January provides the platform for a new breed of freelancers. As we're the club who shelters and supports many a freelancer, we wanted to impart a few real tips that real freelancers have really experienced when starting out in the industry.

  1. There is no need to register your business until you have a business. You've undoubtedly be told to register your business with HMRC (so you can pay your taxes). Before you do that, you need to see if your freelance business is going to work in the first place. That's right, it's time to write a business plan! The main objective here is to see if your freelance venture is going to be viable (ie: will it make you money). The danger is when you really want something badly you might be more optimistic with your projections - don't! Now is the time to be honest with yourself. How many clients do you think you're realistically going to get in the first few months? Be honest! And how much will you need to spend to get those clients? It's better to realise that there is no freelance business than spend money and months of your time working on a freelance project that never stood a chance. 
  2. Focus on the areas you need NOW. We talk to a lot of freelancers every day and most don't have a budget to spend on their freelance business. If this is you, there are a few things you should know. Firstly, if you have any overheads (rent, mortgage, kids, a car, a life...) and no budget, it's going to take time to establish yourself with no money coming in for a while. It's not impossible to freelance without a budget but it's a lot harder. You can't spend money until you make it and you can't make it until you spend some of it on the business. If you're in the creative/visual industry (eg: a photographer or makeup artist), then your portfolio should be your number one focus. If this is strong, you've got a shot of getting booked for work. After that, a great looking website to house your portfolio will help you find jobs. Then put your focus on marketing, advertising and selling yourself. Don't spend money on items you don't need right now or luxury items that can be bought further down the line. 
  3. Free stuff isn't always good stuff. The first thing freelancers say when asked how are you going to promote your services is "Social Media". Good idea. But be aware that this could take months before you build up an audience online. Facebook has clamped down on Pages (for brands) and made it really hard to promote yourself in that way for free (we suggest Groups). Twitter is better but still a slow burner. Their new API limits the number of people you can follow and has slowed down the rate at which you can build your followers. Instagram is a good bet but without the link back option it's tough to generate sales directly. Think about investing in an advert or a paid campaign (these have mixed results) to help you land your first client. Or, step outside your door and tell people what you do! Your first freelance job will normally come from friends or family.  

To help all freelancers (new or established) we're launching #MakeMondaysNew, a campaign to get your freelance business moving - fast!. On Monday the 5th of January 2015 and every Monday after that we'll be providing freelancers with extra advice, new articles, videos and opportunities to build your business. From 8pm - 9pm we have our virtual networking hour #TFCHour on Twitter so you can meet others and promote your service. Exclusively for #MakeMondaysNew, we'll be inviting industry experts to join us so you can ask them questions and get the answers to all the areas of freelancing that you need to stay motivated, focused and prepared for the week ahead. 

We are also providing new members with a complimentary mentoring session when you first join the club. So sign up HERE and let's #MakeMondaysNew.