Starting a Freelance Business: Write A Book (Seriously, Here’s How)
Don’t worry, starting a freelance business is easier than you think. And so is writing a book! Before anything else, there’s something that I have to admit: nothing compares to having a freelance business.
Seriously! To say that being a gig worker is a lot more fun than having a regular job would be a huge understatement. You’re free to choose whatever works best for you, whenever you want it, however you want it and don’t forget, wherever you want!
The 2017 Freelancing in America study by Upwork and Freelancers Union found that there are currently 53 million freelancers in the U.S. today, compared to 102 million traditional workers. Based on the growth of the freelancer category and decline in full-time employment, projections are that by 2027 there will be an equal amount of freelancers as there are traditional employees, at 83 million respectively.
Regarding earnings, in 2016 freelancers added $1.4 trillion in earnings to the U.S. economy. Although it is a significant number, earning income from your freelance business can be challenging, particularly if you’re just starting out.
Show your clients you’re better than the competition
Of course, you can choose the clients and businesses you wish to work with in your freelance business. But there are no guarantees that they’ll want to work with you in return.
Here is the stark reality: there is likely an army of freelancers out there with similar qualifications to yours. Or, even better ones. And maybe they’re also more experienced than you. I know, it’s not the most pleasant thing to hear, but it’s the truth.
When running a freelance business, you’re always competing with someone else. Not only in terms of expertise, but also rates. If you truly want to succeed, you need to find something that sets you apart. Something that makes you worth hiring. Something that can help you show off your niche expertise. Not only in your skills, but also your ability for research and sustained effort.
The quickest way to achieve this level of expertise is to self-publish a book on your chosen freelancing expertise and niche (see previous article for more on this).
If you are an architect, you can write a book about getting started early on as an architect. Or, if you are a sports writer, you can teach people about the ins and outs of the industry.
Maybe you are an online researcher, you can write a step-by-step guide on how to research any topic online. But make the title snappy; Investigators Toolkit: 10 Ways to Research Anything Online. Or, Designing Your Career: A Young Architect’s Guide to Success. Or, Competitive Dog Grooming for Dummies. You get the point!
Start brainstorming different topics in your area of freelancing expertise that would make for good book topics. Search Google and Amazon and see what is already popular in your niche and what people are already reading.
Start your freelance business by publishing an eBook
Writing and self-publishing a book will boost your freelancing business in various ways. It will certainly increase your authority, your rates, and most important, your client base.
A book is a business card that says you are a niche expert. A book gives you credibility when speaking with potential clients that you have what it takes to do a big job and are a thought leader in your particular industry.
A book will also open so many publicity doors that will get you in front of new clients that wouldn’t normally have heard of you. Podcast interviews, article commentary, word-of-mouth, and the list goes on.
The critical headline here is that becoming an author is not nearly as complicated as you may think. You probably know what your niche is by now, so all you have to do is plan a series of articles or posts for a blog that you may already have.
How to get started
Sit down and brainstorm some fun and informative topics you could cover in 10-12 small articles. They should all be able to be tied together, but can include different aspects of your particular freelancing niche.
For instance, if you are writing a book about getting started as a freelance accountant, you may want different chapters discussing the rules for accounting online, where to find jobs, how to handle virtual clients, tools and software they’ll need, best practices, etc.
These can all be individual articles and chapters in your book. List out your articles/chapters, with the specific topic you want to cover.
Finished? There, your book outline is finished! Not that difficult is it?
You’ve just engaged in what is referred to as content re-purposing. Not only will these chapters serve as pillar articles on your own website, but will also be combined for your ebook. The great thing about this is that you can write the articles one at a time and publish them on your website/blog.
As a freelancer, clients will almost always check out your website as validation that you’re a serious freelancer. If you can spotlight some of your work, outline your services and expertise, and yes, have some relevant articles, then you’ll be well on your way to starting a freelance business.
One of the things that I like most about this approach is that, as Ricky from Trailer Park Boys would say, you’re getting two birds stoned at once…
Or is it…never mind. You get the point. The point is, you’re keeping your blog updated, all the while gathering enough material for your upcoming book. Your upcoming book…has a nice ring to it no? After all your articles are written, it’s only a matter of putting it all together and publishing the book on Amazon. Easy enough right? Well, not really.
Here are a few extra steps you need to consider.
Step 1 – Finish writing all your articles/chapters and publish them on your website. You can commit to writing one article per week until you’re finished, then it won’t seem so overwhelming.
Step 2 – Find a professional editor on Upwork to review your book.
Step 3 – Find a graphic designer on Upwork, or DesignCrowd, to make you a beautiful book cover (this is extremely important!).
Step 4 – Find a book formatting specialist on Upwork to format your book for Amazon publication – this includes Kindle (eBook) and Createspace (physical book).
One of the most important things you can do when starting your freelance business is to become educated. You don’t want to be like Ricky.
In the early days, for me, this meant signing up for a course that was going to fast-track my success. And it did! Because I decided to get educated before I published my books I was able to release two of them in six months, one of which was an Amazon bestseller in its category.
This book opened so many doors for me, and had clients coming to me to request my services rather than me applying for freelance jobs and doing cold calls. I also starting receiving invitations to speak at conferences and events, and was treated as an authority in my chosen niche: the sharing economy.
The one course that propelled my book publishing when starting my freelance business is the Self-Publishing School. The program fast-tracked my freelancing business and gave me the tools I needed to write, launch, and promote my books.
Self-Publishing School has a lot of free resources and live training sessions. Check them out; it can only help!
These days, everyone appreciates a good book…Right?
If you were to take a quick look at what’s going on around us, it wouldn’t take long to realize that the statement I’ve just made doesn’t make much sense.
At least, not at first sight. Come on, we’re living in an age of technology, and as you already know, everyone’s all about instant communication. Tweets have to be up to 140 characters long and let’s face it, one-word text messages are the norm. Our attention spans are considerably shorter.
You’re right to think your book may not catch on. But you’d be forgetting one crucial fact. Your book doesn’t have to catch on. You’re not trying to write a Pulitzer-winning, New York Times Best Seller, remember? You don’t even have to be an amazing writer. It’s called a “best selling author,” not “best writing author.”
That said, you definitely need to produce quality content, your book is merely your freelancing business card! And, if you are just starting a freelance business, you need all the help you can get. It will allow you to call yourself an author.
This, in turn, will increase your authority, and put you ahead of your competition. In a nutshell, it will help jump-start your career as a freelancer. If clients have to choose among freelancers, a client will more likely go for the one who’s also an author. Wouldn’t you do the same if you were in their shoes?
I mean, someone who’s taken the time to write a book about the topic you require expertise in must obviously know a thing or two about their field, right? Exactly.
One book. Dozens of ways to use it.
It’s important to remind yourself that you won’t be making any money with this book. So forget about profits for a second. This is by no means the main purpose of being a freelancer and author. Yes, it will increase your profits, but only in the long run. And not directly, but rather through reputation capital.
Now that we’ve established that you’ll pretty much be handing out copies of your book as gifts, let’s talk a bit about circumstances. Regardless of how good your book is, it only becomes valuable when you share it with the right people. People that you think would be interested in collaborating with you at some point.
Here are a few innovative ways you can use your book to propel your freelance business:
- Send it as an initial contact to all your key prospects.
- If you already have clients, a copy of your book would be an excellent thank-you gift for their loyalty.
- Use the PDF version of your book to attached to emails and proposals.
- Ask your clients to give a copy to someone that may be in need of your services at some point.
- Use it as a free lead magnet on your site in exchange for someone’s email address.
- Use it to get on podcast shows to showcase your expertise and offer the book for free to listeners.
I can’t stress this enough, though. Don’t expect these people to read your book from cover to cover. Some of them may leaf through it, others may never open it, but you know what both of these categories have in common?
They’ll both have your book on a shelf. They’ll both keep it. And from time to time their eyes will fall on a name. Your name. So what are you waiting for? I reckon your resume would look a lot better if the word ‘author’ were also included in it.
Be sure to check out Self-Publishing School when starting a freelance business because with diligent work they can make a best-seller out of you. They did for me, and I’m no Mark Twain.