Now that you’ve decided on the type of service you want to offer, you can now proceed with setting up your business the right way.
In this article, we will discuss the business side of being a freelancer and how to set up your freelancing business technically so you can make your initial splash as an SEO freelancer in the market.
Let’s dive in.
Signing Up For A Business Entity
The biggest concern you should have when becoming a freelancer is its legal aspect.
You can’t practice as a freelancer without the necessary licenses from your state and not get caught.
For instance, if you don’t pay your annual taxes, the IRS will eventually find out and send you a letter demanding that you pay the fee plus interest and penalties.
Not paying for this amount may result in jail time.
To avoid all this hassle, you need to comply with the rules and determine the type of business entity you want to sign up.
It is important because it allows you to receive tax benefits and deductions.
At the same time, some clients would like to work exclusively with freelancers operating as a business.
The most common entity that freelancers in the US take is sole proprietorship (sole trader in the UK).
Filing federal taxes is more manageable, and the overall tax rate is the lowest compared to other business entities.
The biggest drawback of sole proprietorship is there is no legal separation between the business and freelancer.
You, as a freelancer, can be charged for liabilities caused by your business.
There are other business entity types to choose from, all of them with their pros and cons.
However, since signing up for sole proprietorship is the simplest, you should go with this business entity for now.
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How to sign up as a sole proprietor
How to sign up as sole proprietor depends on your location.
In the USA, you must go to your nearest Small Business Development Center for advice on the next steps you must take in your city and state, as each has its own rules and processes.
Net, you need to come up with a name for your business.
Usually, you can just use your full name for this. But if you want to brand your SEO services, you can brainstorm for a name you can trademark.
Search the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to find out which names are available.
You can use the name you will find here for inspiration to come up with brand new ones.
You can also use a domain registrar like Namecheap to search for a name you can sign up for. It will be important as well once you start setting up your website later on.
Note: When coming up with a domain and business name, you don’t have to include words related to your chosen industry.
For example, if you wish to offer your SEO services exclusively to pest exterminators, you don’t have to include the words “pest” or “pest control” in the business/domain name.
Once you brand your name with your industry, you’re painting yourself into a corner that you can’t get out of.
Assuming you want to branch out to other sectors, you won’t be able to do so if your domain name alludes to pest control.
In this case, you’ll have to buy a new domain name altogether.
Therefore, to avoid additional trouble, come up with an inclusive domain name that best describes your service and allows you to branch out to other industries as well.
After coming up with a name that isn’t trademarked yet, file it with the USPTO as soon as you can to secure the trademark before somebody else does.
The name that you will trademark here will also be your Doing Business As (DBA) name.
You will most likely be asked to create separate business and personal funds for yourself if you continue this route.
In this case, there will be additional steps you must take after registration.
Establish Your Brand
As a freelancer, you need to consider yourself as a brand.
Crafting a brand that not only speaks volumes about your services but also resonates with your audience will help you set yourself apart from the pack.
I can’t tell you how you’re going to create your brand, you need to show your own personality and get your own writing style over time.
What I can do, is show you the basics of how to set your online branding up.
Set Up Your Website
After securing your DBA and creating your logo, it only makes sense to create a website using the same name you signed up for.
If you already have a website, trademark the domain name you used for your website, so you don’t have to create another name.
But if you want to start from scratch, secure the trademark of your DBA first, then buy the domain name.
Secure the domain as early as now makes sense before you don’t want somebody else scooping up the same name as yours before you.
There are other domain registrars where you can sign up your DBA aside from Namecheap.
Choosing Your TLD
Among top-level domains (TLDs), .com is the most common and the most popular.
However, new and trendy TLDs like .io have been picking up steam lately because it helps them stand out from the pack.
Ideally, .com remains the best choice if you’re starting because most people associate websites with this TLD instead of anything else.
Also, look for registrars that offer website hosting, Cloudways or Bluehost for example, so you can set up your website in the same place to make things much more convenient for you.
Better yet, look for the best-performing web hosting providers that will offer your site the best loading speed and customer support.
As you should know now, having a fast-loading and efficient website will help it rank higher on Google, thanks to the Page Experience Update.
To help you choose your host, here’s a list of the best hosting companies I personally use, without affiliate links, in no particular order:
Once you’ve secured your domain name and web host, you can easily set up your website from here.
Most hosting providers have a one-click WordPress install, which I suggest you use for your website. It’s relatively quick and easy to set up, and customizable for SEO.
You don’t have to create a website as there are other things you need to determine up.
However, assuming that you already have your WordPress website up and running, you can create a Coming Soon page for it using a plugin.
Among the different plugins above, I prefer SeedProd. However, you can’t go wrong with most of them since they’re set-and-forget plugins.
After downloading any of the coming soon plugins, just activate them and choose the design and text people will see after visiting your page.
And don’t forget to upload your logo here.
While setting up a coming soon page isn’t necessary, it helps you brand your site as you figure things out.
Create And Update Your Profiles
Next, you can begin updating your business profiles.
The goal is to let people and employers know that you’ve set up shop as an SEO freelancer, and they can hire you soon.
In particular, you should put more weight on LinkedIn, which is the most prominent social networking site for professionals.
Change your bio on all these sites to inform them that you’re now accepting freelance work.
Also, don’t forget to link to your website from here so they know where they can reach out to you.
While your site doesn’t have any content yet, it’s still good to point to your site from your social media profiles.
The worst they’ll see here is your coming soon page upon clicking on your link.
Also, consider uploading the logo you created as your profile picture on some of these pages.
If not, you can create a Facebook and LinkedIn business page separate from your profile to brand it with your logo, colors, and more.
Aside from updating your resume, you want to ensure that employees know you are available for freelance work.
Most job sites require you to select an option from your profile to show that you accept freelancing work.
These are places where you can apply for freelance jobs to help you secure clients as you jumpstart your career.
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