As with all things, it starts with research.
A common mistake that people make as they consider whether or not to become self-employed is to think only about products or services that aren’t out there in the world already. They want to offer something new and original. And this makes your job as a self-employed person even harder – because unfamiliar products need far more time, money and work to convince people they’re worth buying. So unless you’re pretty sure that your new idea is set to dazzle the world, it’s safer to look for a gap in the existing market instead.
Get all your ideas out on the table. Then ask yourself, is there a market for this? Can I find a niche in this area that will set me apart from everyone else? If not, why bother in the first place?
Spend the early stages of your journey towards self-employment doing thorough market research. If you have zero experience, then really, you can start anywhere. But it’s good to think about your interests, and what’s likely to keep you engaged with the business several years down the line. Don’t know how to conduct market research? Here’s a guide.
A list of job ideas for self-employed people
There are lots of different jobs you can do on a self-employed basis. Some require specialist skills, others require skills that can easily be learned with some time and dedication, and the rest can be done by almost anyone – providing they have enthusiasm for the role. The one thing all of these options have in common is that you get to be your own boss:
Here are some options to get you thinking:
- Voiceover artist – if you have a great voice and a good range of styles, you can make money as a freelance voiceover artist. Set yourself up online and find paid work through sites like People Per Hour and Upwork. You will need a professional-sounding voice reel
- Personal shopper – it’s no job for an amateur: one thing you will need is a real eye for style. If you tend towards the fashion-forward and have good people skills, this could be a good option for you
- Designer – it could be graphic design, interiors, or fashion. To be a good designer you must have a natural eye for it, but you will also need some training if you haven’t got experience. Lynda online classes are a good place to start
- Copywriter – got a way with words? If you can write well, you can earn a living, whether that’s creating content for websites, for brands, for advertisements or SEO. Setting up your own blog to showcase your work is a good first step
- Event planner – no formal qualifications required, just mad organization skills. If you’re always the one getting your friends together and are good at staying on top of things, event planning could be your forte
- Dog walker – naturally, it helps if you are a dog person. It also helps if you’ve got experience looking after dogs – even if you only had them growing up. Otherwise, provided you’re a reliable and enthusiastic person who doesn’t mind brisk walks and getting rained on once in a while, dog walking is a very pleasant job
- Bookkeeper – every business needs one. As long as you can land clients, you won’t go out of business anytime soon. If you’re a numbers person, consider bookkeeping
- Personal trainer – there are always people trying to get in shape who will pay for a professional to help them. Not anyone can be a personal trainer – you will need a certification – but it’s not outside the realms of achievability, provided you have a genuine passion and interest in fitness
- Tradesperson – we’re not about to stop needing professional builders, plumbers, carpenters and electricians anytime soon. When you learn a trade, you have a skill for life – from then on it’s all in the marketing and building your reputation locally
- Flipping websites – flipping websites can be a great way to make money; it’s much like flipping houses. If you can take an existing online business that is generating some revenue, improve the website to generate higher traffic and more sales, you can earn money from that website and then sell it on for a higher price. Website flipping marketplaces like Exchange are good places to find online businesses for sale
This list is not exhaustive, just here to give you some ideas. Find more here.
Making yourself known
Beyond this, it’s important to have some sort of plan for attracting new clients. This will ultimately determine whether or not you make it in the self-employed world. Marketing has changed dramatically and requires creative use of various methods – both online and offline – to make an impact.
Use of online networking and social media is a big one, and can help to significantly grow your client base, as well as make connections with others in the same boat as you. It’s certainly worth having your own business website, even if it’s just a simple brochure site that provides an outline of your services and your contact details for people to get in touch.
People expect businesses to have an online presence, and since most online shoppers use search engines to do their research before buying, you should also learn basic SEO skills to ensure that you can be found. Of course, meeting your potential prospects face-to-face is also important, and an online presence is no replacement for that.
Think you’ve got what it takes? Here’s some advice for making it work:
- Be passionate – because if you don’t care deeply about what you do, you won’t do your best work
- Be positive – because your mindset has the power to make or break your business. Be prepared to work hard and have confidence in yourself
- Advertise – because unless you get your name out there, you won’t get any new clients
- Be patient – because it might take a while for things to really get going, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get there
- Don’t ignore your competitors – because they have bigger budgets and have been in the business longer than you. Learn from them
- Be fair – because there’s a big difference between being reasonable and undercutting yourself. If your business isn’t profitable, it’s not going to be around for long
Self-employment is certainly hard work, but it’s the kind of job where you really do get out what you put in. The reward for that hard work goes straight to you. What’s more, you have the freedom to create your own work schedule and do what you’re really passionate about.