Next step of your location independent journey is setting up your freelance business. Luckily, it doesn’t take much nowadays, and I’ll explain how you can do it for next to nothing.
My location-independent pathway was setting up a freelance copywriter business. I didn’t have a clue about setting up a freelance business. It had no guidance whatsoever. It’s safe to say I winged it. And boy, was it a learning curve. Once you’ve chosen your location independent career you will need to set up your own freelance business. In this post, I will tell you the mistakes I made so hopefully you don’t make them yourself.
Get feedback on your business name before registering it and buying the domain name.
I rushed out and had business cards made with the business name, Cool Copy. Then followed these three main steps to set up a freelance business:
- I had the logo designed by a graphic designer on Fiverr for $6.34.
- I bought the domain name “coolcopy.com.au” for $20 for one year from Cheap Domains.
- I registered the business name with The Australian and Investments Commission (ASIC) for $35 for one year.
I had spent $71.34 in setting up my freelance business (without a website). But after getting feedback from friends and family, it turned out Cool Copy wasn’t so cool after all. Ironically, because it included the word “cool” apparently made it “uncool”. So, I ditched Cool Copy, cut my losses, and started again. Awesome.
I checked if killercopy.com.au was available. To my surprise, it was. And my friends and family approved this business name, except for mum. She thought, because it had the word “killer” in it, people might think I’m a serial killer or something… thanks mum. But, none the less, I went with Killer Copy anyway… sorry mum. I bought the domain name killercopy.com.au, and registered the business Killer Copy Creative.
For $8.40 AUD per month, a Google Workspace account will get you a customised and secure business email, along with access to their suite of tools including Drive, Docs, Sheets, Meet (video conferencing), and calendar, etc. Even if you do not have a website up yet, having a custom business email is the next most professional thing you can show potential clients. In my early days as a freelance copywriter, I used my Gmail email. Not a good look.
Do not choose a web developer based on their looks
I decided the logo would set the tone for the website branding. I was happy with my logo design through outsourcing site Fiverr, so I decided to stick with them for a web developer. An attractive woman’s profile called Sarah caught my eye. Sarah claimed she could build me an SEO & mobile responsive website for AUD $289.81. She had good ratings and reviews, and the turn-around was only nine days with several revisions allowed.
Sarah turned out to be a BIG MISTAKE. Fast forward two months later, and Sarah had still not completed my website. She gave me numerous excuses as to why it was dragging on. But it was when she told me her village was under attack that I knew something was off.
Do not attempt to flirt with your web developer
The problem with Sarah’s village under attack was that her photo was of a white western woman. Something was definitely off. It turned out that she was not even a woman. Sarah’s real name was Sandeep, and he was from a remote village near the border of India and Pakistan! Crickey, no wonder my attempts at flirting had gone down like a lead balloon. I’d been trying to flirt with Sandeep while he’s trying to make a buck as his village is under attack!
Sandeep’s digital strategy was to lure guys in with a hot avatar called Sarah. And I was the sucker who fell for it… Righto, no more Mister nice guy:
“I. Need. This. Website. Finished. Now Sandeep!!” I demanded.
Eventually, I had a website that was far from perfect, but it would do for now. Baby steps. But Sandeep had the nerve to request I tip him for all the time and effort he put into it! After it was delivered over two months late!!
“Yeah, I’ll give you a tip Sandeep. Change your profile photo and name to your real identity, deliver on your promise and on time!”
After giving Sandeep a negative review, he messaged asking me why, explaining how much he relied on good reviews to earn a living. I now felt compassion. Sandeep doesn’t have the opportunities afforded to me and was probably using Avatar Sarah out of necessity. Or maybe not, I don’t know. Maybe his village was never under attack. Either way, I amended his review and gave him a tip. Besides, he taught me valuable lessons as a freelancer, the most important being:
Always deliver on your promise
Okay, this is a lesson when you start working for your own clients, but I’m going to write a whole other post on this topic because it’s THAT IMPORTANT.
Seriously, just hire a local developer. Or better yet, do it yourself.
If I added up all the money spent on fixing my website, it cost more than hiring a local web developer in the first place. Communication and transparency are crucial. Your website represents you and your brand to the rest of the world. Invest either your time and/or money into it.
Today, there are incredibly user-friendly content management platforms (CMS), such as Squarespace and Wix. Much of it is drag and drop, and they provide training. They are also affordable options as they are act as your domains host.
WordPress is more complicated but is the best for SEO and functionality. One of your website’s most important aspects is having well-written SEO optimized copy that also converts readers into paying customers. Yes, that was a shameless plug.
But there’s a reason why almost a third of the world’s websites are WordPress. There are several affordable courses on WordPress on sites such as Udemy. Or, if in doubt, just Google or YouTube an issue. If you decide to go with WordPress, I highly recommend downloading the Yoast SEO plug-in to assist with your websites’ online presence.
Whichever way you go, learning to use you chosen CMS is a great skillset to have because it means that you can manage your website and not have to pay someone else to. It’s also much better cyber security practice because you’re not handing over your passwords to a third party. You can bet that after dealing with Sarah/Sandeep that I changed my passwords.
Final words on setting up a freelance business
In saying the above, I have outsourced many tasks to Fiverr since and all in all they have delivered excellent value for money, especially for tasks above my technical expertise. Fiverr are also great to outsource for your own work if you’ve got work overload, which I will discuss in another blog posy.
So, there you have it—just a few of the lessons learned from setting up a freelance business. And there will be many more lessons to come. I’m sure of it. Had I done the process again today, I could set up a freelance business for less than a few hundred dollars. The reality is, taking the leap and going out on your own is just one massive learning curve. But that’s okay. You fail forward. The trick is to view every mistake you make as a lesson that allows you to grow and move closer to your location independent freelance goals.