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I’ve been advertising and promoting the freedom and flexibility that freelancing offers for awhile now, almost a year, and yesterday someone asked “how much does it actually cost to startup your freelance business?”
I did a live on my Facebook business page here that you can watch if you want.
The quick answer is that you can spend as little or as much as you want.
No, that answer is not very helpful, but it really is true.
It is possible to start your freelance business spending practically ZERO dollars.
It’s also possible to start your freelance business and over spend like a crazy person.
Both are equally BAD options, and I will explain why at the end of this post.
What do you need to startup — the minimalist route
- A service to offer. What are you doing in your current job? Chances are (I am almost willing to bet here) that you have skills and experience that easily translates to the online business world. You may just need help to discover how. For example, I was a teacher with zero business and zero marketing experience, but I still was able to grow and build an online service based freelance business. What skills does a teacher have to offer businesses? Well as an English teacher I had writing experience, planning experience, and conversation/engagement experience. In the online business world this translates to copywriting, project management, and social media strategy. Want to figure out what online freelance career is right for you, checkout this brainstorming guide for free.
- A way to advertise. You have to be able to market your services. Think this is going to be expensive? It could. BUT the minimalist route is to have a portfolio PDF and a Facebook business page. I didn’t have a website or even a Facebook business page when I was working as a freelancer and was able to build my business up to 3K a month. I just had a PDF portfolio.
- A way to communicate with potential clients. Do you have a cellphone? There you go! Want to take it one step further and appear just that much more professional? Get a zoom account! They have a FREE version. Zoom is a software that allows you to do video conferences with clients all around the world!
- A cohesive and professional brand. You DIY this yourself for free. Just look at this Pinterest board I started for inspiration. At the most basic branding level, you need a logo, colors, fonts, and a few images that reflect your business look and feel. But also make sure it is attractive and speaking to your ideal client. Yes, you CAN design your logo without a graphic design degree. Don’t spend money on this, yet!
- You need a way to schedule appointments. Look up Calendly or Acuity. Both have FREE options. But you could also do it the manual, old-fashioned way and pencil people in on your calendar.
- Lastly, you need a way to invoice clients. The free, minimalist route is to use paypal.
I believe the minimalist route, with or without a website, can get you to 3-5K a month in freelance income.
Some optional, but tremendously helpful add-ons
- A website.
- Membership programs.
- Courses and/or coaching programs.
Needs for when you are ready to scale to 5K and beyond
- Leadpages or clickfunnels to build landing pages, optins, or sales pages.
- Email Service Provider to build, grow, and nurture your list. Mailerlite, Mailchimp, or Convertkit.
- Customer Relationship Manager to help automate your business. Dubsado, 17hats.
- More professional branding and website, with the addition of a blog.
- There are endless options here, this list is just a start of expenses to look into to scale.
My route + what I spent
This list of expenses covers my first 1.5 years of business as a freelancer, before I transitioned to creating courses and programs for moms.
- My first expense was in February of 2016. I spent $30 to subscribe to an online job sourcing board for virtual, work-from-home jobs. I had to spend another 30 in July of 2016 to renew my subscription. It took a little over 6 months to find my first client.
- I spent $30 on a course that was supposed to help me with Social Media Marketing. This was in November of 2016.
- I signed up for a free webinar on finding virtual assistant clients through Facebook in December of 2016. I learned SO much in those 60 minutes, more than I did in the $30 paid webinar, that I signed up for her big course.
- December of 2016, 6 months pregnant, I invested $1500 in Create Your Laptop Life, a 4 month program. That was the best $1500 I ever spent. I have learned more in the last 8 months from Julie Stoain and the other women in the program than I did in my entire life (I know that sounds dramatic, but it is true).
- Later in December of 2016, I spent $10 on a stock photo and $30 on a font. (don’t fall into the creative market rabbithole, just take their free goods! I am not using either one of those items in my business currently).
- December was a big month for me. I also spend around $300 on my domain, a wordpress theme, and getting my LLC.
- The last expense I made for my business was a Canva for work account. Canva has a free account, but they also have a $12 dollar a month program, and I purchased that in February of 2017 and have had it since.
Total of what I spent was around $1,942. That is not bad. In my mind, all but $30 has been crucial to my success.
My recommendation for you
- Go the DIY Minimalist route until you start making consistent 3-5K months.
- Invest in 1-2 things. I would suggest (and I believe this fully, not just because I sell courses, offer consulting, and sell programs) investing in a business coach of some first, and then invest in skills training to advance your freelance offerings. Another good item to invest in is a website, but you can still go a minimalist, DIY route with hiring a beginner or doing it yourself!
- Don’t get caught up in all the fancy automation tools. Yes they save time, but they also cost $. When you get to point when you need it, by all means invest then!
Back to the beginning — here is why not spending enough and spending too much are both equally bad options.
Not spending enough could cost you the gift of time. In business, time is money and if you are constantly wasting time trying to figure stuff out on your own, you could be missing out on money earned from client work.
Spending too much is just irresponsible ;). It is up to you to find that happy price and stick to it, until it is time to invest in your business again!
If you are motivated to start your freelance business and want to set a goal for yourself to quit your 9-5 job in the next couple of months, I highly suggest not going about it alone. You need support and you need community to help you accomplish your goals.
There are tons of freelance course creators and strategists out there, but if you would like to work with me, you can book a free 15 minute discovery call here to see what option is best for you!