How to Start a Freelance Business in 2023 (Guide for Busy Moms)

Excited to start freelancing but don’t know where to begin?

Maybe you’ve pored over endless articles about freelancing already, but wonder if you can make it work as a busy mom.

It’s always overwhelming to start something new. Take a deep breath, and let me walk you through the process of starting a freelance business from scratch.

I’ve been freelancing for 7 years, mom for 4, and this is how I’d do it if I had to start all over again.

How to Start a Freelance Business (Step-by-Step)

It’s not as hard as you think, but I wish I had someone to walk me through this as a beginner.

The biggest hurdle new freelancers face is finding their first clients, but it doesn’t have to be hard. I’ll show you exactly what to do.

Step #1 – Brainstorm Business Ideas

When you start out, nothing is set in stone. You could do anything, really, as long as someone would pay for it.

So make a list of all the skills you have, anything you’ve done before, and any other way you could help a business save time or finish important tasks.

I have a lot of freelancing service ideas in my list of over 201 business ideas for moms that you can check out.

Once you have some ideas of services, you can look through Fiverr and other freelancing sites to see what rates people are charging for your services. Find the highest earners and highest-rated freelancers to get an idea of a potential rate you might be able to charge. You’ll need that in the second step.

Once you have an idea of potential services to provide and rates you could charge, it’s time to test your ideas by working with some starter clients.

Step #2 – Get Your First Clients Fast

Yes, the first step in establishing your business is to work with clients. That’s it.

Once you start working with clients, you’ll figure out what you want to specialize in and how to differentiate yourself from other businesses.

Now is not the time for “marketing.” So do not, I repeat DO NOT, spend even 5 seconds creating a logo, registering a domain, building a website, or other such nonsense.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, spend even 5 seconds creating a logo, registering a domain, or building a website at this stage.

Instead, put together a simple LinkedIn portfolio (your name is your business name, just a photo, no logo or branding) and get clients with one of these quick and dirty methods:

Reach out to your network

Send messages to friends and contacts you trust, let them know of your new business, what services you offer, and ask them if they know anyone who might need your services (not if THEY want your services, just if they know someone)—this is advice from Alex Hormozi, and I think it’s really smart.

Let them know you’re providing your service at an 80% (or other huge) discount for a limited time. If you get a client this way, let them know that if they enjoy working with you, you’d appreciate a positive review. Then you can set a short project time or just work with them until you get higher-paying clients.

Do some cold outreach

Send cold emails to small businesses—you can either find emails online, use an email finder like Hunter, or get a one-month trial of LinkedIn Premium to send messages. Same deal, but you offer your services to them at a huge discount and let them know why and that you’d appreciate a review.

Keep doing this to several people every day until you get a bite.

Step #3 – Build Your Portfolio with Glowing Reviews

Once you’ve got some initial clients, you want to wow them.

Finishing your work at the deadline is an absolute must. I like to add a little buffer to the deadline so I know I can make it no matter what happens.

Then, you want to give a little more value that they didn’t expect. What’s some little extra you could throw in that would make their life a little easier? Maybe some custom graphics, an implementation guide, social media copy to promote the blog post you wrote, etc.

Be receptive to feedback and be willing to make adjustments so they’re happy. (Unless they’re a client that’s never happy, in which you should end the relationship as soon as possible.)

Then when you’ve been working for them for a little while and they’ve had a great experience with you, ask for a review. Ask them to include results you’ve gotten them or ways you’ve made their life easier. You can even write a sample for them to work from.

Put this in your LinkedIn profile and save it for a future website or portfolio you might create.

Step #4 – Simplify and Scale

Okay, you’ve gotten some good reviews and initial clients, but you’re still working at an 80% discount. What gives? We got in this business to make money, right?

Yes, and now it’s time to scale up.

Scaling as a freelancer means increasing your rates. There’s a limit to what you can do in a day, but you can continue increasing your rates to make more over time. (Or you could hire a team, which is another topic for another day.)

Scaling as a freelancer means increasing your rates.

So what can you do? You’ll need to keep up outreach to new clients and steadily increasing rates while sunsetting your agreements with current clients.

Let’s say you’ve helped 3 clients at an 80% discount and they’ve been happy. Next you might start looking for clients and offer a 50% discount (or 70% or 60%, it’s up to you).

Once you find those clients, you can let your current clients know (respectfully) that you’ve found some new clients at a new rate of $XYZ and that to be fair, you are going to raise your prices across the board. Then ask if they are comfortable with that and let them know they can stop working with you if they’d like. No hard feelings!

(Real talk? Clients might be unhappy with that. But guess what, you’re running a business. It’s not personal. You’ve got to make money and make decisions that will help you to stay sustainable. They got great value from you and knew that it was for a limited time. If they’re unhappy, respond professionally [no need to apologize], shake the dust off your feet, and move on to the next.)

After a little while like that, you’ll continue this process again, raising prices until you get to where you want to be.

And as you do this, you can simplify your business—figure out which clients are the best, which services you like providing, and niche down. Then you’ll be ready to create a business name and branding if you want. (I still use my name and personal email because it’s easier.)

Helpful Freelancing Resources

I’ve written a bunch of other articles on starting and running a business that might help you on this journey.

If you have a question I haven’t answered yet, leave me a comment! I’ll mark it down so I can cover it in a future post.

Ready to get started?

Are you in the process of starting a freelance business?

I’m so excited for you!

This blog (the one you’re on right now) is full of guides and advice for finding more time and starting a business as a mom. Check out my precious articles and sign up for my mailing list (link below) to get my latest productivity and business guides sent to you every week 💌

I’m rooting for you!

Before you go, let me know in the comments: where are you at in your freelancing journey? Do you have any more questions for me?

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