Apart from being a blogger, I also dabble in comics and illustration. My friends from college where I was majoring in Fine Arts want to band together and start an illustration studio early next year. This leads me to wonder whether I’m ready to start another freelance endeavor.
I’m not the only freelancer who faces this kind of situation. Freelancers are used to wearing different hats and providing a variety of services. Odds are, you needed to do a bit of SEO on your own site. Or you had to design your own site early in your career when you were low on capital. The diverse tasks we need to accomplish often lead us to learning new skills which may be applied professionally.
But if you’ve designed a website that converts well, or started an SEO campaign that makes your site the first in a long line of search engine results, does that mean you should be a professional web designer or an SEO consultant? To answer this big question, you need to ask yourself five simpler questions first.
What’s the point? In other words, “Why do you want to start this?” The reason you have must be compelling enough to devote hours of your life into this new endeavor. Is it something you’ve always wanted to try? Is it your dream venture? While this is often an awkward question, especially for creative types, you’ll need to identify the force that is driving you to do this type of work. The answer to this question is what will drive you to keep going when times are tough.
How passionate are you? This is related to the previous question, except this is more about your degree of passion, rather than what’s fueling it. How much do you want this new venture to succeed? How serious are you about this particular field? Before taking this on, you need to want it badly enough to invest your time and money in it.
Do you have the necessary skills? It’s one thing to see and appreciate a website’s design, but it’s a completely different matter to design one yourself. The same could be said for practically any creative field.
This is why developing a sound portfolio is essential. Potential clients want to know if you’ll be able to deliver the kind of services they need. The act of putting together a portfolio, whether it’s for illustration, design, or writing, is a test to see if you’re ready to do professional work.
Even if you’re starting a venture where you’ll just be the manager and you’re going to hire others to do the work, you’ll need to educate yourself about the process and standards needed to produce quality work. It’s not just about what looks good to you. What’s more important is that you and your team can identify your clients’ needs and what you have to do to fulfill them.
If you absolutely want to take on this new venture, then go ahead and acquire the skills you need. Of course, getting professional working knowledge takes a bit of time. It might even cost money if you want to purchase books, learning materials, or attend formal classes. Just remember that you should never start something unless you’re sure you have the skills to accomplish it well.
How many hours will this add to your workweek? With every new client and business venture comes more working hours. Before you add a new service or title under your name, you need to know that you’ll have time for it. Do you have time to spare on new projects? Do you have a system in place in case you receive an overwhelming amount of requests?
If you find that you’ll be short on work hours, either find a way to increase your productivity or delegate the less important tasks to others.
What’s your exit strategy? If your new venture doesn’t fare as well as you hoped, how will you get out of it? Will you be able to sell it? Or will you simply change your strategy? Also, how do you quantify if it’s a success or not?
Although I’m glad that I was never in the position to opt for an exit strategy, it’s always an important part of my initial planning. It allows me to have a Plan B if the venture doesn’t turn out to be as profitable or as worthwhile as I thought it would be.
How many freelancing ventures have you started? What issues did you deal with and how did you deal with them?