20 Tips For Freelance Success

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20 tips I wish I had when I quit my job many years ago. This is a guide I wrote for my Life Of The Freelancer site, which is now offline. I hope it helps many more peeps.

20 tips I wish I had when I quit my job many years ago. This is a guide I wrote for my Life Of The Freelancer site, which is now offline. I hope it helps many more peeps.

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  • 1. Robert Dempseyhttp://www.itinerantentrepreneur.com
  • 2. 20 Tips For Freelance Success20 Tips I Wish I Had When I Quit My Job Many Years AgoBy Robert Dempseyhttp://www.itinerantentrepreneur.com 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 2
  • 3. Table Of Contents You Can Have The Lifestyle You Want And Deserve 5 Who The Heck Am I And Why Should You Listen To Me? 8 Tip #1: Its All About The Marketing 11 Tip #2: Know What Youre Selling 12 Tip #3: Get The Messaging Right 13 What Are You About?! 13 Tip #4: Get To Writing 14 Tip #5: Position Yourself Against The Competition 16 Tip #6: Find Where Your Customers Live 17 Tip #7: Choose The Right Online Method To Meet Customers 18 Forums! 18 Social Media! 18 YouTube! 19 Other Sites! 19 Tip #8: Talk With Friends And Family 20 Tip #9: Talk With The Boss 21 Tip #10: Hit Up The Social Medias 22 Tip #11: Online And Offline Networking 23 Tip #12: Relationships Take Time 24 Tip #13: Ask for Introductions 25 Tip #14: Easy Icebreakers 26 Tip #15: The Single Most Awesome Networking Strategy 27 Tip #16: Find A Great CPA Or Accountant 28 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 3
  • 4. Tip #17: Find A Simple Accounting Package 29Tip #18: Keep It Simple With A Spreadsheet 30Tip #19: Crazy Just Might Work 31Tip #20: Just Do It 3220 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 4
  • 5. You Can Have The Lifestyle You Want And DeserveHey future freelancer!If you told me 4 years ago that I’d be running my own business, making a full-timeincome, and doing it before I had business experience or a college degree, working withclients all over the world, I would look at you and go...“Yeah, right.”Seriously, 4 years ago I was working as a project manager in a small IT company inFlorida. I was driving from customer to customer installing software, setting up largecomputer networks, and fixing whatever they had broken or had broken itself.It was a cool job with only one problem - I hated it!Why?Three reasons: 1. First, I was working my ass off so that someone else could make the money and take cool vacations. 2. Second, it felt like I was beholden to this company just to have a steady paycheck. 3. And third, no matter how hard I worked, it always felt like I could do more but was being held back.So, it’s not hard to imagine the utter frustration I felt being tied to a job I had spent hoursdriving to and from every day, wasting precious time during the day due to “necessaryprocesses,” and making someone else rich doing it.If you’ve ever been stuck in a job where you feel more like a tiny cog in a huge machinethan anything else, you’ll know what I’m talking about. • You’ll know what it feels like waking up every day, dreading a long commute to work, just to face another day of heads-down, thankless work. • You’ll know what it feels like having a boss take credit for all of the great work you produce, only to ask you to do it over and over again. • And you’ll know what it feels like to only get paid a fraction of what you’re really worth.Now that I run my own business, I realize just how much I was missing out on bystaying at that dead-end job.The fact is that I knew I could do more. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 5
  • 6. I wanted something much, much better.I wanted to run my own business where I could call the shots. A business where I couldown all of my successes, and learn from my failures, without fear of being yelled at orput down publicly for it. A business where I could branch out into other areas I wasinterested in and be given the time to do it. A business where I could choose what to doand when to do it, where my hard work turned directly into my benefit.And today that dream is a reality. I have the freedom I’ve always wanted, and thelifestyle I want to lead. I now run a six figure income business from where I want, working my own hours, and on the projects I choose. Every day I get to hear the stories of successful freelancers, and help others achieve that same success. I get to spend time with my wife and daughter, traveling to far off places, and never skip a beat with my business. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people on earth. I love what I do, and can’t imagine doing anything else.Robert Dempsey without his teaThat’s how I look at my business - it’s less business and more just a part of my life andwho I am. Every day I wake up excited about what the day will bring, who I’ll get tomeet, and the people I’ll be able to help.And it’s unreal that I actually get paid to do this!How freaking awesome is that?But all of this would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the Internet...and morespecifically web-based applications and social media.I’ve found my passion and turned it into a business that allows me to support my family,travel, meet tons of cool people, and gives me the freedom I’ve always wanted. And thething is I’m not alone in this! I’ve interviewed hundreds of people living their dream andmaking really good money doing it.In my view, doing what you love isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. There is so much more tolife than slogging away at a job that you hate, and coming home so exhausted that youcan’t spend quality time with those you care about.There is a much better way. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 6
  • 7. Inside this report, I want to share with you 20 huge tips that I wish I had when I startedmy first business in early 2001.I want to share with you the exact same tips I’ve put to work to make a comfortable 6-figure income while working from many cities in throughout the world. These simple yetpowerful tips are part of what I’ve learned over the past 6 years running multiplebusinesses, and I want to reveal them to you so that you too can enjoy the samefreedom, the same happiness, the same vibrance for life that I experience on a dailybasis.Here’s what you can expect inside this report. What freelancing is really all about, and how you can be successful from day 1. An extremely fast way to get a solid business foundation in place. And much MUCH moreIf you’re serious about entering the world of freelancing, creating the lifestyle that youwant, making great money, and having more fun than you’ve ever had, I stronglyrecommend you sit down right now, and read this important report from cover to cover.The information and tips inside this report are proven, and extremely powerful. Thesooner you get started, the sooner you can be successfully working for yourself.Here’s to your success!Robert Dempsey, EntrepreneurItinerant Entrepreneur 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 7
  • 8. Who The Heck Am I And Why Should You Listen ToMe?Before I share my secrets, let me share with you how I got to where I am today, and whyI am qualified to reveal this information to you.So let’s go back in time a bit...In 2004 I had a pretty decent job. I was a project manager for an IT company, havingbeen hired to set up a program that later became 30% of their total revenue. I wasmaking a fairly good salary, and my bosses were the best I ever had.But I was still unhappy.I was unhappy for two big reasons: 1. First, I was unhappy because I was building an asset for a company that, regardless of how well it did, didn’t increase the amount of money I was making. No matter how well the program I built did, or how much better the processes improved, I would still be making my small salary. 2. Second, I was unhappy because if I stopped working, by salary would immediately drop to zero, and I would have to get back out there, find another job, and who knew how long that would take.I really didn’t want to take directions from others for the rest of my life, doing what I wastold and helping them get rich, while I was always working to ensure that I didn’t getfired when their business turned sour.Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against having a job. In fact I’ve hadmany, and my first business failed because I up and quit a job without any savings, anybusiness experience, or any plan. Having a job and investing wisely is one path tohappiness, it just isn’t mine.I wanted more. I knew that if I had the correct knowledge, was smart about how I spentmy money, and worked smart, I could build an asset that I could leverage. I would havesomething that I could grow, that I couldn’t be fired from, and that gave me the freedomand independence I really wanted.Before getting an MBA in 2009 and building a successful business, I learned thelessons of business the hard way - by trial and error - something I’ll help you avoid withthis report. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 8
  • 9. You see I had been self-employed before. In 2000 I had quit my first computer job tostart my own company. I had a few clients, and slowly got a few more.I took out ads in the Yellow Pages, and started adding services. I wanted to be the one-stop IT shop for everyone. And what a mistake that was!Now, I was making good money. But to do that, I was working 18 hour days, driving allover three states installing computers, fixing computers, talking with potential clients,and looking for partnerships to make it happen.I also spent a ton of money on advertising, including $10,000 on a website, logo,stationary, business cards, and folders (boxes of which I later threw out). And after driving all day, billing 1/3 of my time or less, I had to do all the business-ey stuff that kept things going, stuff like sending invoices and following up on leads. After a few years of that, getting sick at least once a month from burnout, I started learning software development. I also met a number of software guys and learned that they often worked from home. But by then it was too late for that business. After a few years and building a $30K mountain of debt, my wife and I moved to Florida where I got a full time job.So fast forward a few years and a handful of jobs to the project manager job.I had been driving to and from work for months, thinking about those software guys andhow they lived. I thought about how I could be billing hours and building products ratherthan wasting my time driving around.I had been going to school for computer science (which is all about softwaredevelopment) and learning about web development on my own. And I knew that bygetting into software, I could work with customers all over the world, without everleaving my house.So I started building products and finding clients, all while working at my full-time job.After about 6 months I had built up a critical mass of projects, and after talking it overwith my wife, I quit my job to do my business full-time. That was April of 2006.In April of 2007 I was so busy I started hiring full-time employees. I had effectively usedGoogle AdWords, and the business was flooding in. I also started building a few onlineproducts.By the end of 2007 I had 6 full-time employees working for me my company grossedmore than $500,000, all without ever meeting a client in person. It was a great year. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 9
  • 10. In 2008 my daughter was born and I started an MBA. And I was working more thanever, somehow keeping it all together. But it burned me out, and I wasn’t happy.Something was going to break, and it was looking as if it would be me.So I reassessed what I was doing, and came up with my rules for working (more on thatlater).Over the next year I scaled back the business and either subcontracted work to myemployees, or helped them to get other full-time jobs. I started learning a lot more aboutonline marketing, online video, copy writing, and selling.In addition, I started working with more freelancers (some here in the U.S. and someoffshore), ramped up the consulting side of the business, and leveraged social media toreach even more customers.Fast forward to today.I have a six figure income from my web developmentbusiness, and choose which clients I want to work withfrom a steady flow of leads. I’ve gotten to travel tomany countries without ever missing a beat, I’vespoken at a number of software developmentconferences in different parts of the world, and I spendmore time with my family. I have the time to read asmany books as my Kindle will hold, and learn moreabout the things I want to learn about.And I’m helping others take their freelance businesses to the next level so they can trulyobtain the lifestyle they want to have, doing what they love.And their success makes me happier than I ever thought I’d be.It’s been an incredible journey to say the least, and I’m now in a position to share withyou what I’ve learned over the past 10 years in business, and the past 4 operatingcompletely online, creating a lifestyle that allows me to work from wherever, onpretty much whatever I want.Inside this report I want to give you the exact same strategies I used over the past 4years. A business formula that you can easily implement to help you achieve thelifestyle, the freedom, and the success that you want and deserve.If you’re interested in making a real income doing what you love, taking full credit for allof your success, I know you’re simply going to LOVE the information I’m about toshare with you inside this report. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 10
  • 11. Tip #1: Its All About The MarketingAfter a number of very good years running a web development business, the leadsstarted to dry up.My main method of advertising - Google Ads - stopped working. The cost had gonethrough the roof thanks to increased competition, and due to a focus on business schooland a bad hire rather in my business, things started to slow down. Needless to say, Ineeded help.Thats when I hired a marketing consultant to help me out, specifically AnthonyRichardson. It was when I started working with Anthony that I realized that marketing iswhere its at, no matter what business youre in.Today is seems like common sense. After all, how do potential customers find out aboutyou if you dont tell them? Sure, advertising is one way, but as I said that had stoppedworking, and became quite expensive. I needed something else. And that somethingwas marketing.So how do you begin?The first thing to do is to get into the marketing mindset, because not only is it all aboutmarketing, everything you do is marketing - every tweet you write, every Facebookupdate you send to friends, every blog post you write, every time you tell someone whatyou do.Remember that everything you do is marketing.Over the next 4 tips well put this marketing mindset to work and start laying thegroundwork to getting found by customers, and helping ensure that the lifeblood of thebusiness - a steady stream of leads - continues to flow. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 11
  • 12. Tip #2: Know What Youre SellingIf youre going to tell the world about what youre offering, be it a product or service, youneed to know what it is youre selling. And I mean what youre really selling.As an example, with my software company, you could say that Im offering custom webapplication development. But then you might be thinking to yourself, "What the hell doesthat mean? Whats custom web application development and how does that help mybusiness?"Yeah, thats what I thought I was selling. At first.When I looked back at the clients we worked with, started creating profiles for each ofthem, and looked at what they all had in common, I found a few interesting things.First, they came to us because we were seen as experts in our field. Every where youwent online, when you saw certain keywords or conferences or forums, there we were.We were everywhere. So why does someone want to work with an expert? Becausethey believe that what they need will get done, without issues (or perhaps just a few littleones).Second, we worked with a lot of entrepreneurs. These were folks that saved up theirmoney or were working at a full-time job to fund their dream of having a company. Andthey needed our help to make that happen for them.Third, they were looking for freedom, in many forms. They were looking for the freedomthat having a business brings; they were looking for freedom from a long commute; theywere looking for freedom from worrying if their boss was going to be on their back dueto a failed project.So, we were really providing three things: Piece of mind due to our expertise Help with fulfilling a dream of having a business FreedomNothing about custom web application development in there.So what benefits do your products or services provide to your clients? That’s whatyou’re really selling. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 12
  • 13. Tip #3: Get The Messaging RightNow that you know its all about the marketing, and you know what youre really selling,its time to tell the world about it. So how do you do that?This is where messaging comes in.Now Im going to assume that you have something that someone is willing to pay for,something of value. With that in mind, lets dig into messaging.Using our example from before, we determined that I was selling three things: Piece of mind Help fulfilling the dream of having a business FreedomIf I told people I was selling freedom, theyd look at me like I was high on somethingpretty strong, and most likely laugh. Or would they? Lets think about this for a second.What do you want to be known for? What words are used to describe that? What is yourpotential customer into and what appeals to him or her? Now do you really care aboutwhat anyone other than your potential customer thinks? I dont think you should. Worryabout all those other people and what they think wont help you connect with your realcustomers, the people that are going to give you money. So lets not worry about thosepeople.So take a moment and write down what it is youre all about, and then see how that cantie into what it is your selling. The combination of those two will help you get yourmessaging right, so that you can really speak to whats underneath your customercoming to you for help. If you can speak to them at their core, youve got them.What Are You About?Take a moment to write down what it is you’re really all about.________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Once you have that down, it’s time to start creating content. Let’s look at tip #4 for that... 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 13
  • 14. Tip #4: Get To WritingAlrighty still with me? Great. Its time for tip #4 - get to writing.So youve crafted your messaging, or at least have a draft of it, and now youre ready tostart broadcasting it to the world. Excellent. I have one word for you - blogging.Oh youve heard this before? Great. Because your blog is going to be the center point ofeverything that you do. Why? Well there are a number of reasons: Search engines love blogs for their fresh content and SEO friendliness Having a blog will give people a better idea of who theyre purchasing from Blog content is super easy to share Blog posts can easily feed into social media Almost every successfully self-employed person Ive spoken with has a blogYou get the point.So, if you dont have a blog set up yet, shame on you! Head onover to Page.ly (yes Im an affiliate and thats an affiliate link - aguys family has to eat) and sign up for an account. I host a ton ofsites on Page.ly - their service is fantastic, their uptime is solid, andthey make keeping a WordPress blog up to date a snap. Notechnical know-how needed.Ok go on. Ill wait. Done? Great.Now that you have the beginnings of a blog, and your messaging, write down 10 thingsthat you can write about that have to do with your core messaging. Im not talking aboutfull paragraphs here, just bullet points. Use these lines for brainstorming.________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 14
  • 15. Once you have those, start putting some talking points underneath each item. Then,add more detail to each of these talking points. Before you know it, you have the basisof a great blog post.Now, go write these 10 but dont publish them just yet. Schedule one to come out each day for the next two weeks. Unless your audience works on the weekends (something quite rare), schedule them for Monday through Friday. This is something I learned about called core content. Great stuff. Once you have all of that complete, start thinking of more topics you can write about that connect with your core message. When youre first starting out you dont have to post every day, though Ive seen that recommended.Core content is like little seedsFrankly, the advice here is all over the place, and the only way to know what will workfor you is to try multiple strategies - posting a few times a week or every day. Test,measure, and test some more.Now dont get discouraged if no one comments on your posts. Ive been posting on adaily basis for months with very few comments to show for it. Something Im working onfor sure, but remember not everyone comments, though they may thoroughly enjoyreading what you have to say. So keep at it. Test, measure, test some more.Thats is for this tip. Next well continue by learning about positioning, and specificallyhow to position ourselves against our competition. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 15
  • 16. Tip #5: Position Yourself Against The CompetitionSo I bet you thought you were in for another long page of stuff and then took a look atthis little one and wondered what the hell was going on. Well my friend, thats because Ihave only a little advice to offer in terms of competition.Many of the people I interview know about their competition. They know that thecompetition offers, at what price, who uses them, and generally what moves they aremaking. However, thats it. They dont dwell on the competition, trying to keep up oroutmaneuver them. And for a freelancer, its pretty pointless. Youve got to spend yourtime hustling and getting customers so you can bring in the cash and pay your bills. Andif you have a family (as I do) then thats even more important. My daughter only likes toeat noodles so many days in a row. So the advice here is forget the competition. Take a look at what theyre doing sure. Find out what price they charge so you can be competitive. However, the goal isnt to try to grab as many customers from them as you can, the goal is to get the customers who are going to connect with you at the core and hand over their cash in return for the valuable product or service youre offering. So one more time - do your research, but leave it at that. Revisit them once a month to see whats new, but dont spend any more time than that. Get out there and find clients, and crush your competition.Leave the turkeys alone.Next itll get even more fun - well start looking at finding clients, the lifeblood of everybusiness.Let’s get going! 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 16
  • 17. Tip #6: Find Where Your Customers LiveNo I dont mean literally find out where they live and start following them around. Thatwould be illegal, and creepy. What I mean is find out where your customers live online,and where do they go to network.Since you know who your ideal customer is, lets start searching. There are a few supereasy ways to do this. Use search.twitter.com and use keywords to find out whos talking about your area of expertise (AOE). Type in the keywords relating to your AOE on Google, and then add other words like "forum" or "social network." Just ask.That last one can be tricky, but it gets easier with every customer you get.Now the above 3 recommendations do assume that you know the keywords related toyour AOE. If you read that and wondered to yourself why I didnt mention creating akeyword list for your AOE you may be cursing me. But heres a resource for ya that will hopefully put be back into your good graces: Market Samurai.Now Im not suggesting you run out and purchase this product, though it can help tomake your research, both keyword and competitive, much easier. However they have aton of videos that can help you understand how to do all of it, whether or not you chooseto purchase their product. Ultimately keyword research is something you want to do as itwill give you content ideas for your blogging, a major tool in the online marketing andrelationship building arsenal.Now well continue by choosing the right online methods to meet customers. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 17
  • 18. Tip #7: Choose The Right Online Method To MeetCustomersSo in the last tip we did searches using keyword for our area of expertise (AOE) adding"forum" and other location style words to the search. So if you have a number of placeson your list, lets see which might be most effective.ForumsI like forums, mainly because I can build credibility over time with people interested inmy AOE, as well as put a link to my site in my forum signature. If you go the forumroute, be sure to not sell anything, and simply be helpful. Also pick and choose theposts that you respond to. Not everything is going to fall under your AOE, so be choosy.Social MediaThere is no doubt that you have to be involved in socialmedia. Its helped me get in front of more people than Iever could simply by going out and meeting people.And in social media, there are 3 big sites - Twitter,Facebook, and LinkedIn. However, not all of thesemight work for you, and could end up in a big waste oftime. So lets find out how to narrow down our choices.For this there is a single site that will give you all thegoodies and tell you where to spend your time. Andthat site is Quantcast. Quantcast is awesome becauseyou dont merely see the traffic a site gets (we bothknow that Twitter and Facebook get a crap ton of traffic, der), but we see demographics.Now thats what Im talking about.Here are the links directly into Quantcast for the "big 3": Twitter - http://www.quantcast.com/twitter.com Facebook - http://www.quantcast.com/facebook.com LinkedIn - http://www.quantcast.com/linkedin.comSpend some time on Quantcast digging into the demographics and see if they matchyour target customers. This single site can save you a ton of time wasted on incorrectsocial networks. If anyone tells you "your customers are on all 3 of these" they would beright due to sheer numbers. However you want to spend your valuable time where yourcustomers congregate, not just where they "might be." 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 18
  • 19. YouTubeAnd if youre considering getting into video marketing, YouTube is the place to be. UsingYouTube for marketing is a course unto itself, so needless to say, start seeing how otherpeople are using YouTube, and if anyone in your AOE is using it to any great effect (bylooking at the number of views their videos are getting).Other Sites Look at the big blogs in your AOE and subscribe to the RSS feed. Commenting on blogs (when you have something of value to add) can be a great way to get more traffic to your site and get you in front of potential customers who are reading the same stuff. Thats enough homework for this tip. We’re going to move on now and discuss another potentially scary way to get in front of potential customers. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 19
  • 20. Tip #8: Talk With Friends And FamilyMy Dad, I think, is the typical Dad. He grew up in a different generation than I did, andfrankly has a hard time grasping why it is that I dont want to work for anyone else. Hesees my passion though, and is supportive. And thats where todays tip comes in.The hardest thing for someone just starting out in freelancing can be finding that firstclient. One way to do this with the least friction is to talk with friends and family. So myDad, while not understanding of my mental state and why Im unemployable, realizesthat Im not going down that road and will tell all of his friends what Im doing. This wasespecially great 10 years ago when I was younger and stupider, and had just quit myjob to go off on my own.Friends and family have a lot of connections that we can use to help us find customers.Who knows what business these folks might be in. Can they use our help? Maybe notall of them, but Im sure one of them can.Whip out your phone and start making callsSo, suck it up and start talking with your family and friends. They like you, and thatcounts for a lot when theyre recommending you to others. Be sure to tell them whyyoure striking out on your own, and make it as easy as possible for them to refer you.Got it? Great. Ready? Awesome.Now pick up the phone and start making calls.I promise not to tell you to go talk with Mommy or anything like that. However, there isone more scary source that can bring you some business. But thats next, so keepreading! 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 20
  • 21. Tip #9: Talk With The BossIf you currently have a job, then that job could become your first client.Assuming that your boss isnt a complete ass and that you have a good workingrelationship, and that youve been a good employee (showed up on time, gotten yourwork in, not killed any co-workers), you can turn your current employer into your firstclient.Now this isnt the easiest thing on earth to do, and can take getting over some fear. Firstyou need to have that difficult discussion about you leaving. To soften the blow, you canoffer to help find and train your replacement so they arent SOL when you leave. Itsvery important to not burn that bridge, regardless of whether youre going freelance orjust quitting.Either way, be sure to tell them that you can helpthem out until they find someone new. Ive hearda ton of stories where employers didnt hireanyone new, but rather just started working withthe freelancer on a contract basis, a potential win-win especially if things have been getting a bitslow at work. If thats the case, you can turn thisinto a win for your boss, and make them lookgood at the same time. And that will make themlove you, if they dont already. Break the chains but don’t burn the bridgeAlrighty, so thats two hard conversations out of the way. Well perhaps just one - thisone. Either way you want to find that first client, and the easier we can make it, theeasier the rest will come.Let’s wrap up this "finding clients" portion of this tip factory weve got going on and diginto networking. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 21
  • 22. Tip #10: Hit Up The Social MediasRounding out our 5 tips on finding clients, we get back to the social medias, mainlyTwitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Once you go freelancer for real, meaning no more full-time job, start telling everyone you know everywhere you know them. Go onto Twitterand tell people you are available, and provide a link to a list of the services you provide,making it easy to share and tell everyone they know about you. Do the same onFacebook. Then do the same on LinkedIn.So that wraps up our discussion on getting clients. Next well get into networking, whichindirectly is about getting clients, but is more about building relationships. And goodrelationships lead to a steady flow of clients, the lifeblood of every business. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 22
  • 23. Tip #11: Online And Offline NetworkingTo begin this 5-part series on networking, I want to talk about online and offlinenetworking in general.First off, out of the 100 people Ive now interviewed, almost 100% of them said they getbusiness via word of mouth referrals - either actively asking for the referral, or just bydoing awesome work and networking. Everyone has said that networking isextremely important, keeps them in front of their target customers, and helps them toget third-party referrals. By third-party referral I mean this: if you and I met at a party,and the next day a friends of yours asks if you know anyone that can spew content likea volcano, you might say yes and mention me :) Thats third-party. Second-party I guesswould be if you hired me to spew forth content for you. Im not familiar with all theterminology.The bottom line is that networking, both online and offline (people like to meet people -some "social thing" or something) is extremely important for developing businessrelationships.A few places you can start meeting people, or finding events to meet people at are: Meetup.com Upcoming.org Groups.Google.com (some groups actually meet in person) Local tech calendarsSo find a meeting or two, mark your calendar, get out of your house and go meetpeople.Now let’s get a bit mushy and talk about relationships. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 23
  • 24. Tip #12: Relationships Take TimeAnd as you read the title of this tip Im sure youre thinking, "oh crap what is he going totalk about now." Well surprise! Well no surprise, just a quick tip on relationships fortoday.Building any relationship takes time. Right? Yeah, thats a "duh" kind of statement. Itsthe same in business. Sometimes though, business relationships take even more timeto develop. No one signs a contract worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on ahand shake and a smile anymore. That might work in "Mad Men" but not in my worldfriend. So, as youre going about networking with people dont try to turn them into a customer on the first date. That turns people off, and quite frankly when people do that to me, it pisses me off. It’s all about building trust. As with many things, relationships take time. So, if youre going to go freelance, start building those relationships today. And if youre already freelance, get out and start finding more friends.Next well talk about some more ways to find more friends, because we can all usemore friends. I want more friends... 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 24
  • 25. Tip #13: Ask for IntroductionsOne of the easiest ways to meet more people is to ask for introductions. This is how Iget to meet and interview so many cool freelancers for the site. After each interview Ido, I ask the person Im interviewing to introduce me to two other self-employed folks. Istarted by interviewing people in my direct network - my friends (interestingly prettymuch all of my friends are independents) - and they introduced me to two more people,who introduced me to two more people.In less than 3 weeks I interviewed 100 people. Pure fun.So, start asking people you know to introduce youto others, not as a business referral, but more forthe "someone cool I can talk with" reasons.Also look for opportunities to be connected topeople you really look up to. For instance, I wasintroduced to Chris Brogan through a mutual friendof ours, and got a chance to interview Chris. Forme that was huge, and his interview has gotten aton of views, listens, and hits.This tip was short and sweet. Next up well look at some ice breaking strategies that canhelp you if you feel a bit awkward in social situations (and no I dont mean chuggingbeers or doing a few shots). 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 25
  • 26. Tip #14: Easy IcebreakersNow dont worry, Im not trying to get you into speed dating or anything like that. My wifewould probably kick me hard in lower areas if I tried to give advice of that kind. Im notqualified - just ask her :P But Ive met a number of people who dont feel, how can I putthis, the most confident about going up and talking to random people. Personally, thistook me years to be okay with. Sure I can interview people on video, but sometimes inmore social situations I dont talk with anyone. So take this advice for what its worth.Ive found that people like to talk about themselves. I know I do! But all kidding aside,when you want to get to know someone are you going to blab about yourself for 10minutes as the eyes of the poor sucker youve cornered glaze over? Of course not. Soheres a few things you can ask. Prepare to say "duh" a few times. Hi Im [your name here]. [They intro them]. What do you do? So, learned anything good today? (good at conferences) So what do you think of that last speaker? (again good at conferences)Basically the key is to keep your opening hello relevant to the situation you find yourselfin.Its pretty much as simple as that. And yes, easier said than done, but the most simplethings are the most effective.Let’s now round out our series on networking with some additional networking tips, andthen start talking about everyone’s favorite subject - money. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 26
  • 27. Tip #15: The Single Most Awesome NetworkingStrategyAlright. Are you ready for the single most awesome tip to kick ass networking? Really?Ok, here it is. Sit down and prepare yourself.Once youve gotten past the initial hello, its a matter of asking open ended questionsabout them and listening, picking up on interesting things they say and asking for moreinfo about that subject. Yep, thats it. The more you listen the more they will like you. Sounds like bullshit doesnt it? But yeah buddy, it works. Think of a time when you talked with someone and all they did was blab about them. Still talk with that person? Toss their unwanted card in the trash? Pull their shirt over their head and smack them hard in the face (or consider doing it but not want the jail time)?And how about someone who listened to you and kept the conversation going.Right.So thats it, the biggest key to networking.So far weve looked at 5 tips for marketing, 5 tips for finding clients, 5 tips fornetworking, and now its time to get to the cash with a few tips on managing finance andthen well wrap it up.Well start that next. Keep going! 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 27
  • 28. Tip #16: Find A Great CPA Or AccountantLet me make this plain - I suck at finance anything. I have no problem saying that if itwasnt for my wife, Id be broke and homeless. Ok so its not that bad, but its pretty bad.Its taken me years to figure out a system that shows me the complete picture betweenmy business and personal stuff, as all of the personal stuff is paid from businessincome.One thing that Ive done from the very beginning, andthe financially impaired people I speak with suggestdoing, is to find a good CPA or accountant that canhelp you with your taxes. Its recommended to askyour colleagues if they work with someone who isgood.Regardless of how awesome your CPA or accountantmight be, you want to be able to read tax forms. Ihave a great CPA and found small mistakes thatultimately had to be corrected. Know what this means? A CPA does.In those cases, my CPA filed an extension with the government, something that is 100%necessary and something I dont know how to do. Then theres the issue ofdepreciation, and I cant keep track of all that. He can. And they know the current lawsand can be an advisor on how to structure your business, and other financial matters.So hit up your networks and find a great CPA. Interview a few and find out how elsethey can help you.Let’s look at how you can set up a simple financial system that will work for you. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 28
  • 29. Tip #17: Find A Simple Accounting PackageThe first thing to get this financial stuff under control is to purchase some type of anaccounting package. At its simplest, you want to be able to do the following: Manage income and expenses Run a profit and loss statement (P&L) for your CPA Run a balance sheet reportAs a one person machine, thats all you need. Even if you have contractors, you canenter that as an expense too.Many people use Quickbooks. Frankly for me its a bit much. But then I use a Mac. Andon my Mac I use iCash. Its a little app that does everything I need, including budgeting,which I dont do :P.There are a ton of online and desktop apps, so find one that suits your fancy, get a 30-day free trial if you can (be sure you can export your data), and try a few out with a fewsample transactions and report. If all of that seems like a bit much, fire up a spreadsheet and create one tab for income and another for expenses. Youll want to be able to see if your income is greater or less than your expenses for the month (hopefully greater otherwise its another week of ramen). I highly suggest the app route though as it will make providing the information to your CPA, and really see where your money is coming from and going too MUCH easier.Moving on then! Let’s discuss creating a little spreadsheet that can help you keep yourstuff straight between the income your business creates and the expenses yourhousehold generates. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 29
  • 30. Tip #18: Keep It Simple With A SpreadsheetThe one thing Ive found with a number of small business accounting packages Ive triedusing is that they dont do a very good job of showing me the big picture, namely mypersonal and business finances all on a single page. I need reports for my business,however I dont need anything formalized for my house (though now that I think about itmight not be such a bad idea...). Regardless, I dont really like dealing with finances,and Im not good at inputting budgets into these applications and keeping them up todate.So it is after many, many years that I finally went back to using a simple spreadsheet tolook at the income/expenses for home and business, and create a simple budget. Theresulting spreadsheet is what I call the Revenue Distribution sheet. Essentially it helpsme to keep track of the main business and home expenses (and what I use to pay foreach) I have, along with the income from my business. I then show the incomedistribution for each of my expense categories, which for me are: Subcontractors Taxes Business fixed Personal (home)At the end of the row I then see how much I have remaining for business use. So as Iadd more expense items to the list over the course of the month I can see how muchmoney I have left to spend.The main reason I created this spreadsheet is that I would treat all of my income asusable for the business, which is very, very wrong. The money to pay for personalexpenses comes from somewhere, and that somewhere is the business. The phrase"out of sight out of mind" really bit me hard in the ass many times thanks to that. So Icreated this simple spreadsheet to help keep myself accountable.So enough explaining. Go and grab yourself a copy of the spreadsheet here:http://www.scribd.com/full/38321256?access_key=key-1r3u7kfqei9vnn04frbqI changed the numbers around so you have an easy to understand example.I hope it helps.Thats it for the finance tips.The final two tips will wrap things up, so don’t stop now! 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 30
  • 31. Tip #19: Crazy Just Might WorkSo weve discussed a lot these past weeks and I hope you feel like youre in a betterposition to get out there and kick some freelance butt! Seriously, I want you to be assuccessful as you want to be. And its all up to you.And thats where this tip comes in.Many of us were raised to do things in a certain order, namely go to school, get a job,stay at the job, raise a few kids teaching them the same thing, continuing to work, andthen retiring to Florida or some other warm place.Well to me thats the old way of thinking. A full-time job is no longer secure, homeownership is dangerous, and there are so many opportunities out there for those thatwill seize the day. Seriously. So, I want you to go out there, break the mold, do the unexpected, and gain the freedom that you are looking for. Need some ideas of how to do that? Check out this book by Jim Kukral named Attention! This Book Will Make You Money - a book that Chris Brogan highly recommends. And as Chris says, you gotta act on it. Forget what people tell you will and wont work and just find out for yourself. The only failure is that of not trying. For me this book is a must-read if you think that doing something off the wall won’t work. Believe me it will, but keep it clean, unless your audience likes to get a little dirty that is.Now well end our tip series on a positive note and Ill give my final advice for freelancesuccess. 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 31
  • 32. Tip #20: Just Do ItMy last and final tip is to get out there and just do it.Really, thats it.There are so many people out there that want to work for themselves but just dontknow how. You now have a solid foundation in place to become successfully self-employed. Now its a matter of getting out there and doing it.I started my first business when I was 22 with no business training and a ton of attitude.Sure I fell on my face a number of times, however you dont have to. There are nowmany resources to help you out, including the interviews Ive done with successfullyself-employed folks at Life Of The Freelancer. Listen to their stories of how they did it,take notes, come up with ideas, and then take action.The only failure is that of not doing. I cant say that enough.Put aside your misconceptions, put a plan in place, and go go go!I hope youve enjoyed these tips and I hope theyve helped you out. Please be sure tovisit Life Of The Freelancer for interviews, and more resources to help you besuccessful. If you want to be interviewed or do a guest post theres links for that on thetop. And if theres anything we can do to help you please let me know.Heres to your success! 20 Tips For Freelance Success - Robert Dempsey - Itinerant Entrepreneur 32