3 stages of running your freelance business

As a freelancer, there are several stages you go through as you learn the ins and outs of running a creative business.

And during each stage there are priceless lessons to be learned that you can use to take your business to the next level.

Here are six lessons you’ll learn during each stage of your freelance business, from just getting started to running a booming studio.

Stage One: Getting started

Pretty early on in your freelancing career, you’ll realize the importance of setting up a business bank account. A business bank account keeps your work-related money in a separate account from your personal money. The biggest reason to separate the two? It helps immensely when it’s time to pay quarterly estimated taxes. When everything related to your business — from income to expenses — is in one place, it’s easier to set aside money for taxes and manage your finances.

Another lesson you may learn during the early stages of freelancing is what type of work you like to do. This includes everything from the projects you enjoy doing to the administrative tasks that you dread. As you grow, you will refine your services and tailor them around what you enjoy, what you’re good at, and what brings the most value to a client. You’ll also have a better understanding of what to outsource or collaborate on. Hate bookkeeping? Hire an accountant. Love to develop SEO strategies but don’t love handling the on-site execution? Partner with another creative to tag team the project.

Stage Two: Growing your solo business

The more business you get, the more clients you’ll work with. And, unfortunately, the more clients you work with, the more likely it is that you’ll encounter a bad client. It’s bound to happen as you grow your freelance business. But there are always lessons to be learned from these negative client experiences. You’ll learn what type of clients you love to work with, what red flags to look out for, and how to communicate your values with a client

As you grow your solo freelance business, you’ll also realize that pricing your projects and sending out proposals can take a lot of time and energy — especially when you’re creating a scope of work from scratch every time. 

With our project scope templates, you can save time on pricing your projects — and make even more money. Our scoping tool also helps you base your scope of work on value-based pricing by using a formula that takes your expertise, project complexity, and time into account. After using our tool, you may find that you’ve been undercharging your services. But with this scoping insight, you’ll soon be on your way to reaching the next level in your business.

Stage Three: Running a booming studio

You’re getting paid to do the creative work that you love, working with dream clients, and creating a business that suits the lifestyle you want to have. What’s next? If you want to take your business to the next level, it’s time to build a team. When you’re ready to move from solo to studio, you’ll learn that teaming up with other freelancers allows you to provide higher quality services and earn more money. With a team of creatives who each have their own expertise, you can go after bigger projects and provide a whole suite of services that you likely wouldn’t be able to do as a solo freelancer.

Another lesson you’ll learn while running a thriving studio is the importance of value-based pricing and pay transparency. Both are essential for growing your studio business and priming it for long-term success. When you model your projects around value-based pricing rather than hourly or fixed pricing, you’re prioritizing the value and expertise of the work you provide. This is an important lesson for not just studio owners, but all independent creatives — and it’s why we’re set on demystifying pricing in the creative industry.

Plus, when you also practice pay transparency with your team, you’re helping to level the playing field and make sure all freelancers are charging based on value.

Ready to reach the next stage of your freelance business?