Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

BECOMING a freelancer can be liberating — and also a little terrifying. Where do you even begin? Whether you chose freelancing or it chose you, you’ll only be successful if you follow these nine steps.

1. Reach out to your existing network: A robust network is a freelancer’s best friend. Reach out to the people closest to you to let them know what you’re doing.

2. Make new connections: It’s important to have a few fellow freelancers you can turn to for advice and support in your network. They are a great source of information.

3. Determine your fee: Ask your fellow freelancers what the market is like for your skills and what their rates are.

4. Find a good accountant: Even before you have money coming in, hire a trustworthy accountant.

5. Familiarise yourself with the legal issues: While you don’t necessarily need a lawyer, it’s good to have someone you can turn to for legal advice, especially at the beginning.

6. Have your paperwork in order: Have business cards, your resume, a basic letterhead and possibly a logo ready to go before doing business. You should also prepare a standard statement of work, invoice and contract.

7. Get the word out: Make yourself findable: Speak at an event, be active in online communities and continue to reach out to your network, including friends and family members.

8. Set your schedule: Freelancers sometimes make the mistake of taking on too much work and getting overbooked. From the beginning, make sure you have room in your schedule.

9. Be prepared for the dry spells: Freelancing income is episodic. Stash away money so that you’re prepared for the inevitable valleys.

(Adapted from "How to Become a Successful Freelancer" at HBR.org.)

Harvard Business Review © 2016