Running a gig-related business is a lot of work. It proves too much for many people. What starts out as an easy way to make money from your kitchen table often becomes overwhelming and a rabbit-hole of information for those who are not prepared to run an actual business.
In fact, a lot of people only want to do the work related to their specific skills, and very few actually want to run a business.
We know this because of the high turn-over rate that occurs in the gig economy. Freelancing is a wonderful opportunity for people who have a saleable skill that can be marketed online and in person, but it’s also a burden for some who aren’t ready to take on the responsibilities of running a real business.
In order to run a successful business as a freelancer, you need to educate yourself on a number of other industries – not just the industry in which you happen to write. This is necessary so that you have a well-rounded sense of where your clients are coming from, what their expectations are, how to find them, and how to keep your business afloat during dry seasons.
If you’ve been freelancing for any length of time, you know the dry seasons are cyclical and you can have a plan for dealing with them. To help you understand more about the business of freelancing, we’ve put together this guide for you about the 3 other industries you need to learn more about in order to be a successful freelancer.
It doesn’t just happen. You have to work for it. And know where you need to put your efforts from day one.
1) You Need to Know More About Recruitment and Human Resources
You might be asking yourself, “why do I need to know more about recruitment and human resources if I am a freelancer?” You might even be saying to yourself, “I left corporate America so I wouldn’t have to deal with recruitment and human resources departments anymore.” And that’s a fair point.
But you do need to spend some time getting to know the ins-and-outs of recruitment and human resources so that you can do a better job of finding opportunities and representing your freelance business in a way that resonates with companies that have human resources departments.
Of course, a lot of companies run lean these days, meaning they have a skeleton crew and the bare minimum infrastructure to run their companies. This is one of the many reasons why freelancing has become so popular in recent years: there is work everywhere for anyone who is willing to go out and get it and do the work.
But understanding more about recruitment will help you see where you may be able to help companies. There is a high cost of hiring, training and retaining an employee to do the job a freelancer could do for a fraction of the cost and investment of time and energy.
Sometimes, however, saying that to a potential client is not enough to sell them on hiring you. When you understand how the human resources and onboarding processes work at a particular company or even a company that is meant to represent your ideal customer, you are better able to carry on a conversation about their needs and how you can fulfill those needs as a freelancer-for-hire.
If you are looking to make a lot of money in your freelancing career, there are two basic ways of doing this. The first way is to find a high volume of clients and service those clients’ work as fast as possible.
While working on volume alone is enough to make a lot of money, it takes considerable amounts of time and energy and you’ll end up burning yourself out before you ever get to enjoy any of that money you are making.
The second way to make a lot of money as a freelancer is to work with high-paying clients and only take on a select few. The more selective you are about the clients you take on, the more you can charge.
But you need to understand how those companies work from top to bottom to be able to fill in the blanks for them. Understanding the human resources and recruitment practices a company has can help you create a customized approach for that client so they can save money, get quality work, and keep you rolling in the dough.
2) You Need to Understand the Marketing Industry, Cycles, and Benefits
As a freelancer, it’s likely that you lead some kind of nomad lifestyle. You probably don’t report to an office every morning, although some freelancers do have a dedicated space that they like to work in.
If you are someone who travels a lot or likes to lead a flexible lifestyle, then it’s likely that you are doing a lot of work to build up your business yourself. This is also true of freelancers who are just getting started.
A lot of the work and energy has to come from you in the beginning. As you start to make more money, of course, you can hire people to help you manage parts of your business that don’t need your personal touch. This is where knowledge of the marketing industry comes into play.
If you don’t understand how to market your business, your business won’t be a business for long. What’s more, if you don’t understand the marketing industry and how to reach the people you want to serve, even if you hire someone to do it for you, you could get taken for a ride. Who knows what you are paying for!
Rather than risk putting your business on the chopping block, getting really familiar with the marketing industry is the safest, and frankly, the most productive thing you can do to help your freelance business along.
When you understand how marketing works you can have a conversation about your business and actually sound like you know who you are trying to serve and support. But what’s more, you will know how to find those people to actually serve them.
And of course, knowledge of the marketing industry only helps your customers even more – especially if you happen to work in graphic design, copywriting, or if you are a virtual assistant of some kind that takes on a number of tasks each day.
Marketing knowledge not only helps you grow your business, but it helps you serve your clients in a more robust way. In addition, having a good understanding of how marketing works will allow you to have a better understanding of your competition and what they are doing in the same space.
If you are sitting there thinking to yourself, “I don’t have any competition,’‘ you most certainly need to familiarize yourself with the marketing industry. You do have competition. You just might not understand enough about the industry to find that information.
3) You Need to Know How Money and Finance in Your Business and Beyond
Finally, an industry that you need to understand more about is the finance industry. There are countless reasons for this, but we will focus on just a couple of them here.
For starters, you need to understand the finance industry because you need to know how to get money and keep money in your business. This comes in all shapes and sizes, including merchant cash advances, loans, investment, sales, revenues, profits, losses, competition, cycles of the retail or service industry and more.
If you aren’t clear on where your business is at risk of losing money, it could cost you in big ways. In addition, you could be leaking cash without even realizing it. Having a clear understanding of how finance and money work within your business will not only help you grow your freelance business bigger and brighter than you ever imagined, but it will also help you recognize when things aren’t going well.
It’s a tough sell to tell freelancers to go to take a finance course or take a bookkeeping course because it’s all too easy to hire experts in those areas, but the more you know about your own business, the better off you will be. And as always, that information only helps make you a better service provider for your clients.
Don’t underestimate how much you can learn about a topic when it comes to helping your freelance business grow. Finance is a traditional old industry and there are lots to learn about it. As you grow through the information and history of finance, you might come across some unique and interesting stories about how companies were made, saved, and lost.
The problems you experience as a freelancer might not seem so unique once you’ve done some digging into the kind of financial problems literally every other business in the world has encountered. It not only makes you feel confident that you can overcome financial issues in your business, but you might get some really creative and unique ideas to save your freelancing business.
4) Don’t Underestimate Your Freelancing Business
You might think that this advice is overkill for a freelancer who just wants to make a few bucks working from home – and maybe it is.
But for every person who just wants to make a pocket change for fun on the weekend with their freelance business, there are two more people who are serious about making a go of freelancing and want to build a successful, profitable business for themselves.
If you are in the second group of freelancers, be sure to take time every week to learn more about human resources, recruitment, marketing, and advertising, money, and finance.
All of these industries combined help a business grow and prosper, but even if you focus on just one aspect at a time, you’ll notice a shift in the way you see yourself and your business.
Knowledge is power. Both for you and your clients. Invest in the learning and development of your freelance business and see where you can take it.