{Video} How to Become a Freelancer: Invoices, Projects, and Contracts

As creative entrepreneurs and freelancers, it’s normal to want to procrastinate handling the financial and legal aspects of our businesses.

It’s normal. But it’s not smart.

If you want to be a full time creative professional, then you have to operate like a business. Every business needs to produce income, manage finances and tend to legalities. Trust me on this, because I’m right there with you when it comes to not wanting to deal with this sort of stuff.

That’s why in today’s video, I won’t go into the nitty gritty of every last detail you need to consider related to the legal and financial aspects of running your freelance business. Instead, I’ll explain my experience with both of these aspects in my own business. Plus, I’ll include a few of my best tips and resources to help you make sense of where to begin.

Check it out in the video below:

Need to get your legal ducks in a row? I did too, so I got Small Business Bodyguard by Rachel Rogers. Check it out here.   

How to Find Clients When You Move to a New City

For creative entrepreneurs and freelancers who cater to a local market, moving to a new city can be an exciting adventure... and also, completely anxiety-inducing. That’s why in today’s post, I’m recapping my own experience of moving to a new city as an early-stage freelancer -- plus, the six strategies I used to get my first clients there.

For creative entrepreneurs and freelancers who cater to a local market, moving to a new city can be an exciting adventure... and also, completely anxiety-inducing. That’s why in today’s post, I’m recapping my own experience of moving to a new city as an early-stage freelancer -- plus, the six strategies I used to get my first clients there.

Side note for new freelancers: these strategies will work even if you’re not in a new city. Run with a couple of them to start building your client base when you’re just getting started!

Here’s my story and the strategies I used to find clients when I moved to a new city:

1. Join organizations and groups. And get involved.

I went to college near Amarillo, Texas. As a student, I started freelancing to make extra money while improving my design skills. Four days after graduation, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Alone. Where I knew nobody.

I had landed an internship with a church. I really connected with the people there and still attend as a member. It was my boss from that internship who ended up sending me my first freelance client in Atlanta.

Your Get-Clients Game Plan #1: Find any group or organization that interests you and connect with people. Even if you don’t immediately have a “role” in the organization, get involved beyond just showing up for regular meetings. It’s a great way to connect with new people who will ask about what you do (probably five seconds after you tell them your name). And they, or someone they know, could potentially want or need your services.

2. Connect with Connectors

Since I was completely new to Atlanta, I had no idea which restaurants to try, what to do on the weekends or even where to get my hair done. But one day as I was scrolling Twitter, I came across this guy who tweeted updates about local people, places and various events. So, I started following him, and eventually we ended up connecting about my services.

Years later, this same guy refers clients to me all the time.

Your Get-Clients Game Plan #2: Look for well-connected locals on social media. Start following people who post things that interest you. Engage with them in a non-creepy way and see where it takes you. Simple as that!

3. Keep business cards handy

One practically effortless thing I did was put my business card on bulletin boards at my favorite local spots. I’d leave a few cards here and there as I was going about my day, so doing this didn’t require a lot on my end.

It’s also helpful to have cards on hand because you never know who you’re going to meet. And people you meet almost always ask about what you do.

Your Get-Clients Game Plan #3: I doubt I need to spell this one out for you, but I will or the sake of consistency. (Any other OCD creatives out there?) If you haven’t already, get business cards printed (if you only want to work with local clients, consider including the name of your city on the card). Keep several of them on hand day-to-day and notice if the restaurants, stores, salons, etc. you frequent have bulletin boards where people put their cards. If so, attach yours.

4. Target Facebook Ads to local Pages with a similar target market

I ran a Facebook Ad specifically targeting people who liked my church’s Facebook page. To be totally transparent, I’m not sure if I saw a return on that investment. But at that point, I didn’t have any experience running Facebook Ads. Now, there are lots of courses and free content out there to help you come up with an effective strategy for running Facebook Ads to build a local client base.

Your Get-Clients Game Plan #4: Do some research and find tips to help you run your first Facebook Ad. Invest a little bit (maybe $50) to target a local Page’s audience (with a similar target market). From there, see what works and run with it

5. Focus on SEO

Improving my local search rank helped me end up on the first page of Google. SEO can be tricky and it’s tough to understand; plus, depending on your website platform, there are countless ways to improve your SEO potential. Still, I’ve had many clients find me via Google search, so I think it’s a great way attract a local market if you’re willing to do some initial research.

Have a Squarespace site? My eBook on Squarespace SEO is a great starting point.

Your Get-Clients Game Plan #5: Research SEO. Learn how you can improve your ranking among local competitors, then implement the tactics and strategies that make sense for you.

6. Engage with local hashtags

I’ve done this from time to time with event hashtags and local business campaigns. Not only has it helped me connect with business owners in Atlanta who need my services, it’s allowed me to build and engage my own local following on social media.

Your Get-Clients Game Plan #6: Follow relevant local businesses/people on social media to discover the hashtags they're using. Then, use those hashtags in your related social posts. For example, if you’re a photographer who wants to take senior photos. Find out hashtags associated with local high schools and include those when you post an Instagram that would appeal to that school’s students/parents. Don't forget, here's how you can find MORE hashtags to use.

Of course, some of these tips might require you to venture outside your comfort zone. Since you’re already adjusting to a new environment, pick 1-2 of the tips/strategies above to get started. You can always try the others later.

Which tip will you try first to start building a client base in your new city? Let me know in the comments -- and, as always, feel free to post any questions you have!

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{Video} How to Become a Freelancer: Marketing Yourself

When you’re just getting started with your creative business, there are a lot of moving pieces you have to make sense of and manage. And marketing can be one of the most daunting pieces.

There’s so much to make sense of: websites, social media, blogging, emails...

And managing everything can feel like a full time job (in fact, it is a full time job for some people). But in the beginning, you only need to a few basic elements to successfully market your business.

I’ll share my best tips for keeping things simple in this video:

If you’re just getting started with marketing, leave a comment with the 1-2 social media platforms you’ll focus on for business. Already up and running on your 1-2 “focus platforms”? Feel free to share a link to you profiles in the comments below!

Why You Should Stop Doing #AllOfTheThings

These days, it’s pretty simple to figure out how to start, operate and grow a creative business from scratch. Well, ok. It’s not exactly that simple to figure out. But the information and answers are out there available for you (and a lot of it is free).

Problem is, having access to endless steps, strategies and suggestions from some of the industry’s most successful leaders is doing more harm than good for a lot of ambitious business owners.


Well, if you’re a do-er like me, then there’s a hint of temptation to implement every step, strategy and suggestion presented to you -- especially when someone you admire, respect and/or trust is the one presenting it.

I started Jess Creatives just over 5 years ago, and it didn’t take me long to realize that I would experience serious overwhelm, among a bunch of other issues, if I actually attempted to do #AllOfTheThings. (And 5 years ago, #AllOfTheThings wasn’t even a thing....neither was Snapchat, or really Instagram...or a whole bunch of the other things we’re constantly prompted to try and implement in our businesses today. Ahh, simpler times.)

So, in this post I want to share the one thing you need in your book if you want to filter the steps, strategies and suggestions that are actually right for you. And I’ll share an example of my own decision-making process that I use to evaluate new opportunities -- plus, how it helped me realize that doing everything isn’t the key to success.

How I filter: if #AllOfTheThings don’t align with your my values, don't do it.

Staying true to your core values, in every aspect of your business, will set you apart from your competition and attract the right customers/clients to you. Stray too far from those core values, and you’ll lose what it is that drives the work you do (also, don’t be surprised if your customer base starts to dwindle).

Like I said, one risk of being an action-taker who’s quick to implement, is the temptation to allow so-and-so’s most recent “6-Figure Secret”, or the Top 10 Tips that Joe Schmoe shared on a webinar yesterday -- to determine all of your next steps.

Of course, following someone else’s steps to success can potentially help you become successful, as well; but, you have to evaluate new opportunities, ideas, tactics and strategies by considering your core values first.

For example, earlier this year, I started hearing more and more about the power of video, and of being on YouTube. I thought it sounded like a good idea and a great way to stand out. But, that wasn’t enough evidence that for me to invest the time and energy in diving in just yet. First, I had to cross-check the idea with my core values:

Be Purposeful

For me to commit to doing these videos, they would need to serve a clear purpose beyond being adding that surface-level wow-factor for my audience.

I’m all about empowering people to manage their own websites, or any other design project they might need to tackle. Having a library of different videos to send to clients helps me put some extra "wow" in my client experience. They’d serve the purpose of educating and empowering clients.

If educating my clients wasn't a priority, starting a YouTube channel would not have had as much purpose. This may be the biggest core value for ANY entrepreneur to prevent overwhelm. If you don't have a clear goal in mind, or a purpose behind every move, you'll to-do list will be ever-growing.

Work Hard

I'm a firm believer in working hard in your business, not just expecting clients to roll in because you have a website. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, "Ideas are meaningless, it's execution that matters." This one doesn’t require much more explanation because it totally aligned with the idea of creating videos for two reasons:

  1. They’d require some extra effort on my end, but I wouldn’t be cutting corners in regards to setting my audience up for success.

  2. It would require my audience a little extra effort if they wanted to get value from the tutorials. They’d need to watch the video, and independently follow the steps to make changes. Of course, I’m always willing to help and encourage (see my #3 Core Value) as needed. 

Encourage Others

So now, let’s talk overwhelm. I have to say, I don’t experience it often with my personality and how I run my business. However, the few times I do, it's when I want to help way too many people at once. I have a problem saying no.

After all, there isn’t an entire Jess Creatives support team waiting to assist you. It’s all me. Trying to help and encourage as many people as I can. Over the years, I’ve had to scale the impact I’m making so that I can reach more people without working 24/7. My blog and YouTube channel are two ways that I do that. 

The reason this is so important to me as a business owner, is because I know first-hand that running a business is hard. There are enough nay-sayers and haters out there already, I don't want to add to that noise. 

Be Generous

Of course, video tutorials for my clients and readers is, in the grand scheme of things, generous.

There are plenty of designers out there who “design and dash.” They design a website, send an invoice, make revisions, get paid and part ways with the client. There are also a lot of people who don't like to share their knowledge with the world – as evidenced by my blog and YouTube channel, that's not the case here...

Decide What You Won’t Do

Now that you’ve seen how I evaluated the decision to start including video tutorials for my clients using my core values, I’m sure you can imagine how often I run through the same process and wind up with a big NO. There’s a lot I decide NOT to do: webinars, Facebook ads, the list goes on…

It's not to say that I won't ever do webinars or Facebook ads, but it just isn't a good fit for me right now. Every business has seasons – maybe you spend one quarter focusing on client experience, and another quarter focusing on passive income. 

There's also something to be said about not doing things you hate. If you continually keep doing things in your business that you don't enjoy (and I'm not talking about taxes...), eventually you will wake up and be running a business you don't love.

Even if a mentor or my best biz friends or my competitors are seeing success with a certain step, strategy and suggestion, if it’s not aligned with my core values, I don’t do it.

And I can feel no #FOMO in making that choice.

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{Video} How to Become a Freelancer: Building Your Business

So you decided to start freelancing?

Whether you’re full time or not, it definitely takes courage and confidence to get started.

Way to take the first step!

Now it’s time to start building your business.

That’s right. I said business. If you want to become a successful freelancer you’re going to need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset when it comes to things like:

  • Marketing

  • Sales

  • Legal Stuff

  • and Finances

Don’t worry, I’ll cover the foundation of building a successful freelance business in this video:

While it may seem like you’ve got a whole lot to keep track of as a new freelancer, you should know that nobody goes at this stuff 100% alone anymore. There are incredible tools available (and many are completely free) to help you stay on top of everything, even when you’re just starting out.

Check out my favorite tools in the free guide below!