Setting Up Your Business

This post constitutes the first part in a series of posts, which are intended to be a guide, for proceeding as an Internet Freelancer. For the past few years, I’ve been working hard in such a role and decided it would be useful for me to, both document, and share the aspects of the work that I’ve learned.

In this section, Part 1, I describe the basics of setting up your business and discuss the tools that are essential and useful to your new potential new business.

Your Business Legal Structure

Depending on your geogrpahic location, or more specifically, the country in which you intend to base your business, you will likely be required, by law, to register your business with your country’s tax registry office. It would be presumptuous, and somewhat foolish, to recommend what legal structure you should choose for your Freelancing business in this post, since the onus is entirely on you to understand the laws of trading, in your own country, as well as to decide what is right for you and your business.

In the country that I operate, the UK, the options that were open to me were a Private Limited Company or a Sole Trader. Indeed, there was also the option of a Business Partnership – but since I was operating by myself, this was clearly not suitable for my business and I could immediately eliminate this option.

I decided to register myself as a sole-trader. I chose this because I understood that this would be more suitable for myself than a Limited company. I also chose this status because I realised that I would be personally responsible for its finances (and any debts it incurred) since as a Sole Trader in the UK, you and your business’s finances are considered the same. At first, this might seem a little strange – why would I want to carry (potentially) carry this burden? Well, my reasons for this are that I wanted to solely carry the responsibility of making it a success – and thereby treat it like the real business, that I wanted it to be. In addition, since it’s my own skills, and myself, that I am selling to clients, this made the Sole Trader option fit like hand and glove.

All of that said, it’s entirely up to you, and your own responsibilty, to decide what is right for you are and your business entity. Therefore it seems wise and prudent to carefully consider, and weigh the options, before deciding on your business’s legal structure.

For historical purposes, I have now set up a Privately Limited company, which is represented by this website, because I am in the process of releasing a new set of mobile apps, and to make use of the financial protections that this status provides.

A Business Logo

I highly recommend that you design, or have designed for you, a business logo. This logo will be highly effective in making your marketing tools unique and relevant to your business. From my understanding, the logo will make your business memorable and help potential clients understand what your business is about. A quick internet search will throw up an extensive set of documents, that can be usefully referenced when deciding on a design for your logo.

I dedided that, for my own business, I would have one designed professionally and I was able to choose from a subset of tailored designs. I chose my the logo for my business, in the end, because I felt that it (somehow) reflected the technical skills that I was offering and also because it fitted nicely with my trading name.

Your Website

From my own experience as an Internet freelancer, one of the most important and useful tools you can have in your inventory is a website. This is, of course, essential if you intend to set up as a freelance web-designer or, more generally, work in software development. Your website, which should include your contact information, will not only be a point of contact for potential customers but, more importantly, act as an example of your own work.

Your website should include your logo (if you have one), or a photograph of yourself if you prefer to be less formal. Remember to include a brief outline of your key skills and experience, relevant to the fields you intend to act as a freelancer. It’s best to include this in a page called About Us and remember to update this on a regular basis.

The front page of your site can include an example of the main set of services. In my opinion, three bulleted-paragraphs is a good way to display this information. Be specific, but succinct, as you can with this list. Something like ‘Food Writing’ is better than just ‘Writing’, for example, as this highlights your niche and expertise. Based on my understanding of the online world, you should aim to spearhead into your markets with a narrow niche, then broaden your market offerings, once you have gained a foothold. I will leave it to you to decide upon your services, since this post is meant to be about freelancing, not Internet-marketing.

You can also include information about your own personal projects. These will act as a portfolio of work you can show to potential clients as evidence of your skills. You can also include articles, or blog posts, with regards to your chosen industry, as I have done here.

It’s also a good idea to include a privacy policy. I recommend you create a dedicated page, for this, with a menu link clearly visible on your homepage. It is now a legal requirement to include such a document in most cases, especially if you are storing personal information about your visitors. You can find many tools on the web that can generate an appropriate policy document, using a simple form. That said, it’s always wise to read through the generated-content to ensure that all of the information you require is included. It may also be wise and prudent to seek the advice of a legal professional to help you create a policy, tailored to your specific industry, if you deem appropriate.

In addition to covering the legalities, you can also use the URL of your privacy policy in your publishing settings if you produce online content. A privacy policy is a strict requirement of most, if not all, reputable online-publishing houses and app stores.

A Word On Advertising

In general, I would sway away from the idea of including any kind of advertising or affiliate marketing in the core of your website. Advertising banners will only act to distract your visitors and take them away from your site. Remember – your website is meant to pull in visitors, not take them away. That said, it’s probably okay, and potentially helpful to users, if you include minimally, advertising banners in your blog section, if you include one. My advice is make sure that the adverts are relevant to the information in your blog post.

Summary

If you have assembled the above set of tools, you are now in a good position to begin marketing your services. You thought having a website is all you need? Possible, but probably not. Sure, the website is a calling card, but since you don’t yet have a high-search ranking in search-engines, your going to have to put the word out around the Internet, that you are in business and tell people how you can help them.

In the next part of this guide, I will delve in to the world of online marketing for Internet Freelancers, as well as including information about dedicate sites that can, and do, help bring you the freelancer and those looking to hire you, together in effective and safe manner.

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