Here are four powerful ways you can save money as a freelancer while you build your business.
Off the top of my head, I can think of many reasons to be a freelancer or your own boss. There’s the freedom of picking and choosing projects according to your interests; you can work at your own pace; set your own schedule; work from any location in the world, and potentially earn unlimited income. But even though you might earn more as a business owner or freelancer than working a 9-to-5 for someone else, you’ll also spend more than the average employee on business-related expenses.
Think about this: it probably took your former (or current) boss years and a huge investment of time and money to grow a successful company. There’s the start-up cost of getting materials and supplies, finding an ideal location, marketing costs. On top of this many business owners have to pay for a variety of services to build their professional image. If you’re planning to work for yourself, you should expect similar expenses.
The investment of being your own boss might be intimidating, especially if you don’t have a huge bankroll. But there’s good news. With a smaller investment and a little bit of your time and energy, you can possibly develop skills that can save you thousands and help skyrocket your business to success.
Whether you already have a business or you’re thinking about starting one, here are four skills to develop now to save money as a freelancer.
1. Web Design Skills
If you want to grow your business and reach the masses, you must have an online presence. If not, you’re missing out on potential income.
But of course, designing a professional website takes time and money. And like so many technologically-challenged freelancers and business owners, you may not possess web design skills, and you may need to pay someone for this service.
Designing a professional website can cost thousands of dollars, plus there’s the ongoing cost of using a company for technical support and maintenance. You may think you have no other option, but an online course or an inexpensive course at a community college can teach you basic coding and web design skills — enough to build your own business website. Don’t think you need a degree. For example, I have a friend who spent $500 on an extensive eight-week web design course. Not only was she able to design her own website, she now designs websites for others on a part-time basis.
What do you need to start? Register your domain and get hosting. Many web hosts like Siteground (what we use at phroogal.com) and Bluehost (a good starter host for many) make it simple to get started.
2. Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Skills Can Save You Money as a Freelancer
Now that you have a website, you need to add content to this site. This might include a landing page, an About Us page, and maybe a blog to drive additional traffic to your site. These require writing skills and an understanding of search engine optimization and social media.
Having a blog on your website is a great way to improve your SEO. Learn how to start blogging and save money as a freelancer.
SEO professionals conduct an in-depth analysis of your website, keyword usage and competition, and then use techniques to optimize your site for the web resulting in higher rankings on search engines like Google. It’s a service that can benefit any business owner with a website, but this service isn’t cheap. On the low-end, an SEO company might charge $100 a month. For a more extensive package that practically guarantees top page rankings, some firms charge as much as $400-$1,000 a month. After a little research, I found firms charging as much as $5,000 a month. These firms offer a variety of additional services from writing your blog content to handling your social media.
It’s an investment that’ll pay off, but if you don’t have this type of budget, an online course or a community college course in search engine optimization or social media can provide enough knowledge where you can start optimizing your own site and jump-start your own social media campaign. You might spend a few hundred dollars getting the knowledge you need, but this is far less than what you may spend hiring an SEO company on a monthly basis.
3. Computer Graphic Design Skills
From business cards to letterhead designs, some businesses create a custom logo for brand recognition. It’s an effective marketing tool. It’s also much easier to hire a company to design and print your business cards, brochures, letterheads or logo. But you might shell out hundreds or thousands over time. If you invest in a graphic design course, buy a low-cost, yet efficient graphic design software, and invest in a laser printer, you’ll have basic knowledge and all the resources you need to handle your own graphic design needs. This can literally save thousands. And there are free online tools like Canva.com with its simple templates and abundant features.
There is also the option of using freelancers on Fiverr. For as little as $5 you can get a design and then upgrade for more customizations.
4. Basic Business Accounting Skills Will Save You Money as a Freelancer
I understand why some freelancers and business owners outsource their accounting needs to a CPA. However, these services aren’t cheap.
If your business finances aren’t complicated, consider learning basic accounting skills and manage your own financial books. There’s plenty of software available to help manage business finances, such as Quicken Self Employed or you can look into invoicing companies, such as Xero or Freshbooks, which sends professional invoices to your customers each month. You can even use a payroll company to cut checks to any employees you might hire.
Taking a semester course at a community college might provide basic accounting skills to help you manage funds and perhaps prepare your own business taxes if they’re not too complicated. Also, you might be surprised to learn that some schools offer free accounting courses. These include Pennsylvania University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and offered through Coursera.
Save Money as a Freelancer: The Bottom Line
Being your own boss has its ups and downs. Some years your income may decline, and some years you’ll earn more than you ever thought possible. For that matter, you need to prepare for the slow periods and learn as many skills as possible to keep recurring expenses to a minimum. Taking a few courses and investing in your business provides the skills you need to handle your own accounting, graphic design, web design, marketing, and more.
As your business continues to grow, hiring your own freelancers and professionals will help you focus on your expertise. But starting out, it’s important to learn different ways to save money as a freelancer.