Home-Based Business Strategies: Three Tips to Success for Freelancers and Creative People

I’ve been a creative entrepreneur since 2002, when I formed my own publishing company to publish my books. After a couple of years I landed a book deal and realized I didn’t want to shut down my company. So I began helping others turn their thoughts, ideas, and research into marketable books.

I became a creative entrepreneur. A creative entrepreneur is someone who uses creative skills and abilities such as writing, design, etc., to build a business. I met many other creative people who dreamed of running their own businesses but did not know how. Some had tried to run their own businesses but had gone back to the 9 to 5 after a while. Others worked their “day jobs” on the side. Not many worked full-time at their own businesses.

I realized there were several mistakes that prevented most of the creative people I knew from succeeding. If you correct — or avoid these mistakes — you can have home-based success as a creative person or freelancer.

Mistake No. 1: Relying on one big client too heavily. It’s tempting to rely on one big client or gig and slack off on looking for other business. But this is a dangerous mistake. That is because when that client cuts back on the work it is sending your work or cuts you out altogether, you are suddenly staring at a work schedule with no projects on it.

How to fix it: You can learn certain marketing strategies that allow you to take control of your business by putting you in front of people who need your services. Learn how to find potential clients, even when you are busy with a big client.

Mistake No. 2: Accepting ridiculously low rates. I know it’s tough out there. I know it’s difficult to keep getting turned down for projects or rejected for work, but keep marketing and keep pitching your services. Work will come, if you are good and if you keep at it. Accepting ridiculously low rates doesn’t help you. In fact, it can hurt because it means you are spending your effort to produce work that is not worth the time invested.

How to fix it: Be proactive when it comes to pricing a project. Don’t wait for a potential client to tell you what he or she will pay. Learn how to be competitive and set your own rates.

Mistake No. 3: Working without any assurance of being paid. Freelancers, especially those who are new to business or lack the confidence to assert themselves, often will work for free on the promise that the client will give them paying work later. What happens in too many instances is that the paying work never materializes. And when you work for free or very low rates, you devalue your work and skills to the point where the person who hired you won’t even consider you for a more expensive project.

How to fix it: Learn how to negotiate with potential clients who want to “test you out” by having you work for free. Develop a strategy for providing the work and being paid for it, without turning off your potential clients.

When you correct — or avoid — these three business mistakes by freelancers, you can boost your income, increase the number of projects you bring in, and become a real creative entrepreneur. You can make money writing. Be among those who successfully work from home. Your dream of leaving your day job, working from home, and creating a lifestyle around your creative work can really come true.