How to Transition Your Freelance Work to An Actual Business

By Susan Guillory

Do you consider yourself a freelancer? Maybe you design websites for various clients, manage their social media, or update their books and manage their finances. Maybe you started freelancing as a way to make a little cash on the side of your day job, but perhaps now you have enough clients to do it full-time and want to turn your little freelancing thing into a bona fide business.

There’s a fine but distinct line between being a freelancer and a business owner, and I’m going to help you make the transition.

First, Get into the Right Mindset

The majority of this transition from freelance to business is a mental one. Right now you may think, “I’m just a freelancer,” and may not bid on projects that you think are for so-called professionals only.

I encourage you to drop the mentality that freelancers aren’t as qualified to do work as businesses. You know your abilities and experience, so if you feel up to the task, bid on the project!

One way to get into this business owner mindset is to start using the term “we” rather than “I.” No one needs to know it’s just you working in the company, and alluding to a “we” makes it look like you run a bona fide company with employees. Nothing wrong with creating that perception!

Work on Your Branding

The next part of converting your freelance work into a small business is to brand it with a name of its own. Using your name, while acceptable (such as Sara Knightley Communications), may not help people see that you’ve transitioned away from being a freelancer. Instead, come up with a business name that speaks to what you do, and gives your new business a little personality. And if there’s a great story behind your business name, so much the better.

In addition to your business name (which you need to register to make it official, and to set up a business bank account under the name), invest in having a logo designed. This isn’t an area you want to skimp in; your business logo is your calling card, and you want to portray the fact that you are professional, and no longer a freelancer, so make sure the logo communicates that.

Get More Hands on Deck

To truly turn your “I” into a “we,” start hiring help as soon as you’re able. You absolutely should start out hiring — wait for it — freelancers! Likely you won’t be able to afford to hire full-time help early on, but knowing that there are some great freelancers out there, you can bring them on so that you can take on more work. Also considering that you will be spending more time on administrative tasks, as well as bringing in new business, you will need help with the actual work.

It’s not that hard to move from being a freelancer to a business owner, now is it? And clients tend to trust businesses over individuals (chalk it up to a few too many freelancers being unprofessional and spoiling your reputation as a whole), so you’ll likely see a boost in revenue once you’ve made the transition.

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Susan Guillory
Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She's written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

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