When I started my business I didn’t think about anything outside of design and creating my products. I had no idea how I could market my services and the legal part still seems a bit daunting. Running a business, especially a successful one, can take years and I’m still learning new things every day.
Today, I want to share with you a few things that you should know before starting an online business. I hope they can help you start or improve your creative business.
1. Create a blog
I think it goes without saying that you need a website. I used to think that a portfolio website was enough, but now I realize that I was lucky to find work. No matter how Google-friendly your website is, it’s hard to find new customers when there are so many talented designers. A blog makes it easier to get your name out there. You can bring traffic from Google, Pinterest, or even from other bloggers. You can also show your potential clients that you are good at what you do by writing about it.
Blogging is not always easy, so if you don’t enjoy it, you should try to build your business offline or promote through workshops or social media networks.
2. Don’t work without a contract
In many countries, you are not allowed to work without a contract. Though as an online business owner, you can work with people from all over the world and some of them will see your contract as something very scary. The contract will protect both you and your clients. It helps you take care of the unpleasant part of business so you can focus on what you do best. When something comes up, you can just point to the contract, remind your clients about what they’ve already agreed to, and move on.
3. Create documents and email templates
After working on a few projects, I realized that I have to write almost the same things over and over again. Instead of typing every time you send an email, you can create templates with your pricing and process, or even set up a page on your website. I also have templates for the emails I send at the beginning of the projects. This doesn’t just save time, templates also ensure that your clients receive all the information.
4. Set working hours
One of the things I love most about freelancing is that you can set your own working hours. It’s easy to spend all day or night working, but you should set working hours in order to avoid being stressed and tired all the time. And don’t forget to tell your clients when you are available and when you aren’t.
5. Don’t be afraid to talk about your work
I’m still surprised by how many people don’t understand what I do. It doesn’t even matter how many times I explain. For some, I just sit at home and browse the web all day. Which is not far from the truth, but it’s also not what I do. I’ve learned that it’s easier for them to understand if I show them my work and talk about my goals.
6. Create design packages
I used to spend a lot of time emailing back and forth with potential clients only to find out that they couldn’t afford my services or they wanted something else. At first, every inquiry is exciting because people are interested in what you do, though you will soon realize that a lot of people are not ready for custom design. Premade design packages help you and your clients save time. The number of inquiries will be lower, though you will only receive emails from those who want to work with you.
7. Invest in your business
Having your own domain name, good hosting, and professional design software are all very important. You might not afford everything you need at first, but you should always use a part of your earnings for your business.
8. Learn to say no
It’s hard to say no. At first, you’ll be tempted to work with every person that comes your way, but with time you’ll learn that not all clients are a good fit and sometimes you have to rely on your instincts and refuse. Knowing your ideal clients and what you can and can’t do can make a huge difference in the success of your business.
I used to say yes to everyone. I often worked on projects that were out of my comfort zone. Some projects turned out well and I learned a lot of new things, but there were times when I was very stressed and just wanted the project to end.
9. Go the extra mile
I love to help my custom design clients and the people that purchase my products. I answer their emails and do small work for them. I never know how much to charge for something I do in a minute, so I often do it for free. Most of my clients remember this and hire me when they want a new design or refer me to their friends.
Good customer service is what makes people come back. It can also make or break your business, so be friendly and make your clients feel special.
10. Do what you love
You’re starting an online business because you have a passion that you want to monetize, right? Or maybe you just want to help others. It’s important to love your business so don’t be afraid to experiment and change what you do until it transforms into your dream job.
Do you have any tips for a new freelance designer?