‘Freelance’ is not a euphemism for winging it.
It’s not shorthand for lazy person who wears pajamas all day.
Freelancing is serious work—freelancers make up 34% of the workforce—and it demands a serious plan. Do you have a freelance business plan? A road map that shows how you’re going to make your money and not end up broke?
A freelance business plan is big. You need to have one and we can help.
Why You Need a Freelance Business Plan
Going to work as a freelancer is not some hobby. This is serious business. If you want to succeed, you need to plan for it. Otherwise expect to fail.
25-year freelance veteran Ryan Oakes says:
“I believe you are a business the moment you begin to even freelance. You are in business with yourself, and consequently, that business needs a business plan.”
We’re not talking about moonlighters looking to bank some extra income and pay off loans or swing a better vacation. They can wing it and if they fail there’s always the day job. No harm, no foul.
But if you’re going to be a full-time freelancer, then a freelance business plan is a must.
Don’t Run Screaming
We’re not talking about a stuffy business plan with legalese, hundreds of pages and weird spreadsheets no one understands. Don’t be scared away by overdone business plans.
Your freelance business plan is for you. It’s a document to help you make money. It shouldn’t be something to fear, it should be your friend.
Unless you need to get investors on board or convince a bank to give you a loan, it’s likely no one will even see your freelance business plan but you.
Now you could use that as an excuse to blow it off. But you’ll only be hurting yourself.
Instead, the fact that no one needs to see it should be a relief. There’s no pressure here. The whole point is to focus on how you’re going to make money, laying out the details and making sure everything makes sense. It’s not supposed to be homework you worry about someone correcting.
It’s your plan. Make it your own.
What Is a Freelance Business Plan?
More than anything, the purpose of a freelance business plan is to force you to answer all the appropriate questions in running a business. It’s to make sure you’re not taking any shortcuts.
Don’t think of it as burden. It’s not one more thing on your plate. It’s the core of what you do. It’s putting down on paper exactly how you’re going to make ends meet.
A good freelance business plan will answer realistic questions about whether or not you’ll have enough money to buy a computer or how much you need to be charging.
These are questions you have to answer, or you have no business trying to freelance.
Your Freelance Business Plan Will Change
Remember that what you’re writing is a living document. Your freelance business plan can and should change. It will grow over time. You’ll make tweaks. You’ll cross sections out and need to re-work them.
That’s a good thing.
If you’re going to be a successful freelancer, you need to be agile. You need to be able to tweak your plan, shift with the times and keep going. Being flexible with your plan is important.
Note: That’s not an excuse for skipping the plan.
“It’s going to change anyway, so why write it?” is a horrible perspective. You write the freelance business plan now so you have somewhere to change from. You need to know where you’re coming from so you can get to where you need to be.
Ultimately, your freelance business plan is an experiment. Any good business is. You’ll need to test your plan. Figure out where it fails and make it better. Nothing is perfect the first time.
Finally: Don’t stuff your freelance business plan in a manila folder, file it away and forget it. It’s your battle plan. Use it. Tweak it. Refine it.
How to Write a Freelance Business Plan
There are lots of templates, books and guides out there for writing a business plan. Even the U.S. government offers a bunch of resources. Check ‘em out if you need help.
But one we definitely recommend is the free Business Plan Primer for WordPress Web Designers by our founder Cory Miller. Not only is it focused on freelance web design, but Cory takes a refreshing perspective. Just check out the very first line:
“I have a confession: I hate traditional business plans.”
Yes, you should have a freelance business plan. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring or stuffy. And it’s definitely not a waste of time. Make it your own. Forget the traditional stuff. Just make a plan for your freelance success.