The Business of Freelancing – Chanell Turner

If you’re thinking of starting your own business one day, but not sure what kind of business to start, listen close, you may be able to launch sooner than you thought. Freelancing is one of the easiest and least expensive home-based businesses you can start. To talk about the business of freelancing, we’re joined by one of ASBN’s freelance contributors, Ms. Chanell Turner.


Jim: We appreciate all your great content and our viewers that are watching right now, I’m sure have read many of your articles that you’ve provided us. So thank you for that.

Chanell: Thanks a lot.

Jim: It’s been great. So talk to us about how you get started in freelancing.

Chanell: Sure. Well, I was actually working for an educational nonprofit here in Metro Atlanta, and I did some publication writing work for them, and I was loving my job, loving what I was doing, but I wanted a bit more flexibility, and where I was because of just the work style and how everyone else works, you weren’t able to do kind of like a freelance remote kind of deal. So I started looking at some of my options, and so on the side, I started freelancing and got on Upwork and just started looking for some projects. So while I was working full time, I had the opportunity to also write.

Jim: And for the viewers that aren’t familiar with Upwork, it’s a website that you can, talk to us about that.

Chanell: Yes, Upwork is a freelance marketplace and so you have the opportunity to post your profile and offer your services, whether it be writing, whether it be editing, there are graphic designers on there, and then businesses can come on there and hire freelancers.

Jim: Okay, from anywhere in the country, or anywhere in the world for that matter, I guess, right?

Chanell: Actually, anywhere in the world. Yes.

Jim: And if you fit what they’re looking for in the way of a writer, the type of writing that you do and such, then they’ll just connect with you through Upwork, and you get pay through Upwork and the whole deal.

Chanell: Yes, when you get paid through Upwork, all the communications happen through there as well, and you can even search and filter for jobs that you’re looking for as a freelancer through longterm, short-term, one off projects. Yeah.

Jim: And it was kind of cool that you mentioned that you did, you did both freelancing and full time. I know viewers watching right now are thinking that’s a cool way to start your own business, is to make it a little bit seamless and not have that huge step of, “Okay, I just left the comfort of my employer to be in my own business now, and I don’t know if I’m going to have the money there and everything else.” So this kind of allows you to stick your toe in the water of being in your own business and freelancing and such, and then see where that goes.

Chanell: Exactly. It’s overwhelming to think about starting your own business, and we hear about all the upstart costs and so it’s nice to, I was very cautious and I’m always cautiously optimistic and so I’m like, “I know I want to do this and I know I’m passionate about it, but I still want to have the financial security if this doesn’t work out or if there was another option I need to look into.”

Jim: Yeah, for sure. Why do you feel that freelancing has become such a popular profession today?

Chanell: Well, I think as time has gone on, people are really looking for more flexibility in their work, as well as people want to pick and choose the type of career, the type of projects that they want for their careers, and people also want a little bit more free time, and I think freelance gives you the opportunity to do that. So we’re in a time where people want more flexibility, more choice, and I think freelance gives people the opportunity to do that.

Jim: And you almost don’t even need a vehicle because you’re working from your office or your bedroom or your living room or kitchen table in some cases.

Chanell: You save a lot on gas and on eating out. So there is a cost savings.

Jim: For clothing, you gotta, most people gotta have a clothing allowance for what they work in and so, that’s pretty cool.So what are some of the other pros and cons of freelancing?

Chanell: Sure. I think, definitely the, sorry, one of the pros is flexibility. I think having that flexibility to decide when and how you want to work is really appealing to people. I think the next thing is most freelance opportunities allow you to work remotely so people get the chance, like you said, to stay at home, don’t have to pay for gas. And I think the next thing, and we touched on this a little bit, is you get a chance to try out the waters a little bit if you’re thinking about starting a business, and you can start here and then build up on that.

Jim: Yeah, for sure. Um, what advice would you give to those that are wondering if it’s a viable career choice for them?

Chanell: I would definitely say have a plan, have a strategy. I’ve seen a lot of people that have kind of jumped off the cliff a little bit and just didn’t have a strategic plan of how they were going to get clients, how they were going to market themselves, how much money they needed to sustain themselves if things didn’t work out. So I think it’s really important to have a plan as far as the financial, the time, and even some of the family sacrifices that you will have to make because even though freelance, you get to choose when and how you work, I work way more hours now than I did when I was in a full time position.

Jim: Well, that’s a good point.

Chanell: Right, and it’s great. I love it. But I think it’s good to be realistic about what’s out there. Do your research before you just jump in.

Jim: I know, and I would imagine that you brought up a good point about having that, that maybe a little bit of a nest egg set aside to say, “I’m going to give this three months or I’m going to give it six months,” whatever the time that they allow to make sure you’ve got that money in the bank to sustain yourself so that you got to pay the rent and the car payment, things like that while you’re building your freelance business, whatever the freelance might be. In your case, it’s writing. But we’ve spoken to the two people that are accountants from their home and business consultants and many other things that freelancing has been able to allow them to do. What are the most important aspects to remember when writing business tips and resource articles, when you’re, if for someone like you, that’s writing business.

Chanell: Sure. I think the first thing is definitely research. It seems like a basic thing to talk about, but it’s really, really important to have credible resources. I know for me, I’ll look into three different sources before I pick one. So I think research is a really big thing you need to start with. Make sure that, like I said, they’re credible. The next thing I would say is definitely experience. I know everyone may not be an expert on the subject matter in and of itself, but if you have business experience, you can still speak to the functional areas of whether it’s marketing or management. It may be about something you’ve, a topic you’ve never really heard of, but it’s still important to realize that you have experience to bring to the table that’s practical.

Jim: Yeah, sure. You write a lot on businesses and entrepreneurial ship and such. Why do you feel people are so interested in this topic today?

Chanell: Sure, that’s a really great question, and I think I saw an entrepreneur article that said that there were 550,000 people starting businesses every month.

Jim: Wow.

Chanell: And, I think 60 percent of 20 somethings want to start businesses. So it’s just this big influx of people wanting to start businesses, but they don’t know where to start, and everyone doesn’t have the money for a MBA program or a bachelor’s degree program. So the Internet is a place that people are turning to to get those tips and get that information and content to help them get started and move along.

Jim: Sure. So for the aspiring writers that are out there that listening to you say, well, you’ve, you’ve made it, you’re a successful writer and contributor and such, especially right here on ASBN, what would your advice be to aspiring writers that want to freelance?

Chanell: Um, I’ve heard this advice a lot and people always say it’s much, as many opportunities you can get to right as possible, take those, and I would agree. There was writing that I did where I wasn’t getting paid, but I think it’s still important. You’re getting exposure and you’re getting experience. I think the second thing is never stop learning. I make it a point to always go to general assembly courses and learn about certain business functions and it just helps you become more of an authority on those topics.

Jim: Yeah, sure. I would imagine time plays a big role in it too, right? If somebody gives you a job to do and you’ve got a set period of time to do it, you’ve got to be running pretty efficiently.

Chanell: Right. And yeah, that’s a great point. Just the practical things of meet deadlines, communicate with your clients, be always, be professional, things that you would do at a full time job, do it here.

Jim: You mentioned that you had done some work and not gotten paid for it from different, is that to say that you did work for nonprofits and things like that, your name out there or ..

Chanell: Some were nonprofits, a lot of them were startups. That was a big thing that I started doing, was writing for small startups that just needed some help, but they can still get, help me get some exposure as well. So it was a nice ..

Jim: When that startup starts to take off ,they call on you and now you can charge them for that writing. So it becomes a client.

Chanell: Exactly.

Jim: Yeah, that’s pretty cool. So where does your business grow from here? Do you start to, you have a website and do you want to do more writing, and you see the day that one day you have a studio, maybe three or four other writers that write for you or ..

Chanell: That is something that I’ve thought about. I’m really actually passionate about remote work right now, remote work advocacy. So I’m actually in the process of starting a blog and interviewing people about their experiences with remote work, so that is probably the next step of starting a blog and writing about that topic and just getting the word out.

Jim: Oh, that’s great. Well Chanel Turner, thank you so much for joining us and the Atlanta Small Business Network. We appreciate it and we’d love to have you back on the show to talk about the blog so people can go to it and get some great ideas from you and such.

Chanell: Sure. Thanks a lot for having me.