So, you’ve decided that you want to be a digital nomad + entrepreneur - Congrats! I’m sure you’re now wondering: how exactly does one start their own online creative business while traveling the world? Starting an online business is probably harder than you think, but no worries! I’m here to guide you toward the path of success. With a bit of dedication, you’ll be on your way to securing design clients in no time.
Coming up with your business name is the first thing you’ll need to do before setting up your business up legally. As far as names go, here are two easy ways that you can come up with a business name: 1. Use your name - Some creatives want to make things easy and use some variation of their name in their business name. Many creatives choose to add “designs” at the end of their name to tell people who they are and what they do, like Jane Doe Designs. 2. Use keywords - Come up with a few keywords to creatively describe your business. You can choose words that describe you, describe your company’s values, or that may have nothing to do with design at all! The options are limitless.
Setting up your business varies from country to country and state to state, so you’ll need to do research on your own to figure out how to become a legal entity. Before doing that, you’ll want to consult with a lawyer to go over your options to see whether becoming a sole proprietor or an LLC is the better choice for you and your company. In the US, you’ll need to file with both your federal and state governments before you’re ready to work.
When you get organized, you’re able to see your goals, tasks, and client projects all in a single place. If there was a tool you could use to communicate with clients, view your calendars, and see work progress, wouldn’t you take advantage of it? I use Asana to keep myself and my business organized. There are a few other softwares out there that do essentially the same thing, but Asana is my program of choice! You’ll want to find a program that will work well for you to get yourself organized from the start.
There are 5 steps to streamlining your workflow from start to finish. Here’s just a brief overview of each of those steps: 1. Contracting – You need to use a contracting tool to make legally binding contracts with all of your clients before starting work. Contracts are there to protect both you and your client, so make sure that before doing anything else, you sign a contract! 2. Time tracking – Even if you’re not billing by the hour, you need to know how long projects typically take you so you can both schedule out your projects and know what to charge for your fixed rate projects. 3. Expense tracking – Don’t end up taking the costs for stock photos or fonts out of your own pocket. Be sure to keep track of all expenses so when the time comes, you’ll be able to bill your client for the materials you needed to complete the job! 4. Invoicing – Creating an invoice manually for each and every client you have is incredibly time-consuming. Instead of spending hours weekly making invoices, many programs generate automatic invoices and keep track of everything that you send out! 5. Getting paid – With many programs, you can get paid through the program and the money will be automatically transferred to your business bank account. You can even schedule reminders to be sent out if the invoices aren’t paid on time!
You are your brand. Your brand should invoke your voice, your character, and your personality. Be sure to keep in mind that clients are automatically attracted to and are willing to pay more when they see professional looking brands. As a creative professional, you should have professional photography of yourself on your site and you should also create a logo that stands apart from your competition. Overall, you want your brand to give off a great vibe and to feel authentic and genuine. Your brand is what will attract the clients that you want to work with, so make sure that it’s giving off the right impression to the right people!
After you establish your business, how should you reach potential clients? Here are a few ways to market your new biz: 1. Network, Network, Network – Free apps like meetup or Eventbrite show you events that are happening around your area. Networking and meeting people is the key to get your business going. Try going to events both related to design and events not industry specific. After all, you never know who you’ll meet! 2. Social media – Use social media to your advantage because it’s entirely free and everyone uses it! Use Instagram to reach clients through the use of relevant hashtags or join a few facebook groups to promote your business and meet other business owners in your area. You never know what kind of leads you’ll come across! 3. Friends and family members – Friends and family may know people that are in need of your design skills, so it never hurts to ask them if they know of anyone that could use your help. 4. Conferences - No matter what kind of conference you go to, there is always an opportunity to connect with people near you. You can find conferences much like you did with other networking events by using Eventbrite or Meetup. 5. Fiverr and Upwork - Places like Fiverr and Upwork are great places where you can sign up and provide your services (for a small fee to the hosting site). Once you sign up, link your portfolio to your Fiverr or Upwork profile so future clients can see what kind of work you specialize in. Have you started your creative online business yet? Let me know how your journey is going in the comments below!