Maximizing Your Income as an Entrepreneur | The Insight Blog

Maximizing Your Income as an Entrepreneur

Jordan Kennedy  | 

If you fantasize about breaking free from the limitations of having a full-time job, you’ll rapidly find yourself part of a growing worldwide community of self-employed entrepreneurs who rely on the Internet as their main source of income. Going from a secure, paid employee to being your own boss isn’t easy, and far more fall flat than succeed.

Effective freelancers share a many core characteristics that drives them to be their own boss without having to rely on someone else to motivate them. A readiness to take risks and acknowledge the vulnerability of being self-employed is crucial, as is an enthusiasm for what you do and an ability to make a plan and stick to it without falling into the snare that is procrastination.

Before you consider leaving your day job, you’ll want to be confident that you have the necessary skills and the right state of mind to become self-employed. Opposed to the popular belief, a successful digital entrepreneur doesn’t work only when they feel like it, while sipping mimosas on a beautiful beach in the Caribbean. It truly involves a lot of hard work and devotion.

1. Plan for Success and Plan for Failure

An independent career begins along a rocky trail to success, during which there will be inescapable downtimes when you find yourself questioning your abilities and stressing about your financial stability in the near future. Typically, no one finds themselves leaving full-time employment and venturing straight into a busy and successful freelancing endeavor.

Effective entrepreneurs develop over time. It requires a lot of time and effort to build an online presence and become well-known among your target audience. Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure you have a financial buffer before you consider quitting a job. You’ll also need a strong plan in place that includes establishing your online brand and marketing it to the masses.

2. Search For a Niche

Everyone has heard some of the various success stories of entrepreneurs who claim to have gone from nothing to a six-figure salary virtually overnight.

If you believe these stories, then you most likely don’t have the right state of mind to succeed as an independently-employed freelancer. In reality, much of the online landscape is heavily saturated and is not easy to dive in to.

Searching and discovering your niche is the most important step, and it usually beings with nothing more than an idea inspired by one of your favorite hobbies or passions. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert, but you will need to have a genuine passion for the industry you intend to work in, whether it’s freelance writing, graphic design, photography, web development, marketing, or anything else.

3. Create an Office Space

Successful self-employment comes with more than a modicum of self-discipline. You’ll need to approach it like a real job and a genuine career move to have even the smallest hope of success, and this means you must also have the right physical workplace setup as well. You’re probably not going to get too far if you hope to sit in front of the TV with your laptop.

A home office ought be treated as your personal business venue, free of interruptions and distractions during working hours and optimized for productivity. If you have a spare room in your home, then you already have a big advantage. Regardless, don’t hesitate to get a little creative to build an office space that perfectly suits your sense of style and aspirations.

4. Build Up Your Online Presence

Before you can start looking for clients, you’ll need to establish an online presence, and this is one of the most tedious steps of all. Right off the bat, you’ll probably want your own website, depending on your industry. You’ll also need to set up a presence on social channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You’ll need to become a master at networking to be able to seek your clients.

Among the most popular places for entrepreneurs to get started are the online freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru. However, many of these platforms are full with low-paid jobs outsourced by companies and other entrepreneurs hoping to get something for nothing. To really succeed, you’re going to need to market yourself.

5. Determine Your Needs

When you don’t have anyone giving you a paycheck each month, it tends to be difficult to figure out what an adequate rate of pay would be to pay you for your efforts. Obviously, everyone wants to earn as much as possible, but you’ll need to find a trade off between what you envision to be a good salary and staying competitive in the online marketplace.

When determining your worth, you might be tempted to use your past full-time compensation as a starting point. However, you’ll also need to consider that you’ll no longer have any paid holidays, you’ll have to pay more in taxes, and you lose other benefits associated with a permanent job. To get a better idea of how much you should charge for your services, consider browsing freelancer forums and seeing what others in your field are charging.

6. Set Goals

Probably the most difficult lessons that you’ll learn as an aspiring freelancer is that the time and effort you put in don’t immediately convert into financial results. Truth be told, there are almost no assurances at all until you have succeeded in making a name for yourself. While you’ll have your financial commitments just like anyone else, setting financial goals, particularly during the early stages, will likely lead to disappointment.

Rather than focusing on monetary reward, you’ll be better prepared to find that much-needed inspiration by setting goals. For example, a blogger might commit to writing a certain number of posts per week, while an affiliate marketer might dedicate a couple of hours every week to seeking out new affiliates. Set yourself realistic goals and stick to them and, eventually, you’ll be rewarded financially too.

7. Start at the Bottom

Practically any experienced online business person will tell you that the first few months on the road to success involved a lot of work and commitment met with rather unremarkable financial compensation. In the beginning, it’s highly likely you’ll be offered work that might not be financially attractive, or the work might not be mentally rewarding or even particularly suitable for your set of skills.

8. Get Started with the Administration Work

It’s not likely that you’ll be able to afford the services of a personal or virtual assistant or bookkeeper from day one, so you’ll need to be sure to keep on top of any administration work straight from the start. You’ll have to keep a record of your work, your goals, and your income from the moment you get started.

Doing your own accounting and other administration work will save you a great deal of time. You’ll also be better prepared to refine your business plan, rework your goals, and keep track of clients who have the habit of paying late. Be sure to also keep track of your expenses for tax purposes.

9. Invest When You Need To

While your own passion, skill, and will to work hard are the most important components of any successful freelancing career, you’ll still need to make sure you have the right tools available to you. Although making money online doesn’t always require a large up-front investment, there will inevitably be a few expenditures that you shouldn’t feel tempted to hold back on.

You’ll need to invest in a good computer, prioritizing reliability and productivity above all. A large display, plenty of data storage and a reasonable level of performance will make your life as a digital freelancer much easier. You may want to invest some money in creating an ergonomic and optimized home office space. Of course, the cost of all of these will be tax-deductible.

10. Expand Your Business

Getting your first high-paying client will be a rewarding moment, however it doesn’t stop there. Even if your financial ambitions are quite modest, you’ll still need to work on expanding your reach and building up your customer base. Expanding your freelance business is not just about increasing your income. It’s also about adding more skills to your portfolio for better financial security.

Another key factor you’ll learn quickly is that it can be unreliable. Clients come and go, sometimes without any warning. One month you might earn a five-figure income, only to scrape by the next month. However, the more clients you have and the more marketing channels you use, the less severe the inevitable downtimes will become.

Regardless of what anyone tells you, earning a full-time income online requires skill, time, and a lot of effort. Finding your target audience and using the various social media channels available to you to reach out to potential clients is easily half of the battle. Through a consistent long-term effort, you’ll eventually have clients coming to you from a wide variety of different places and spreading the word about your services.

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