Starting a new career as a freelancer allows you to become your own boss and make the most of the talents and skills you have. More and more people across America and beyond are doing exactly that, and there's never been a better time to go it alone and launch yourself as a sole trader or even start your own business. Becoming a successful freelancer, however, takes hard work and careful planning, so here are five things you should consider carefully if you're about to make the step from being employed to being self-employed.

1. Do You Believe In Yourself?

Do you want to become a freelancer because you believe in yourself or because you're unhappy with the job that you hold? The answer to this question will determine your chances of success in the competitive freelance world. If you don't believe in yourself then no one else will, and you have to be equally passionate about the service that you're offering to potential clients. If you struggle with self-confidence then it may help to take a course on improving it, as this will then make it much easier to reach out to prospective customers and convince them that you have the skills they need.

2. What Makes You Stand Out From The Crowd?

There are freelancers operating in just about every field you can think of, from web design to programming, app building, writing, marketing, teaching and mentoring and translation. That means that you are sure to find a lot of competition, and it can be hard to overcome that when you're just starting up. Standing out from the crowd can help you gain customers even if you're a new freelancer, and the key to achieving this is to offer a service that people really want and that isn't easily available. Take time to think about what makes you special and ask yourself what everyday problems you and those you know encounter. By coming up with a solution to these problems, you can quickly make a name for yourself.

3. How Will You Market Yourself?

Having a great product or service, and a unique solution to real consumer or business problems, are two of the three key elements to start up success, but the third is just as important: marketing. Once you have confidence in yourself and your product, it's time for you to tell others about it. Your website is the most important marketing tool you have, so make sure that it looks professional and welcoming. You should also update it regularly with high-value content, as this can help it climb the all-important search engine rankings. It's also essential that you use social media to its maximum potential. Have a profile on all the major platforms and supply regular posts that are visually arresting, informative and humorous; in this way, you will find your online following growing, which in turn can lead to increased sales.

4. Are Your Finances In Order?

Starting a new career as a freelancer can cost much less than you might imagine; in fact, it doesn't have to cost you anything at all initially, but as your business grows and progresses there are certain costs that you'll have to consider. Most importantly, you'll have to ensure that you follow all regulatory requirements. If you work in customer's homes or business properties, for example, you'll need to have a general liability insurance policy in place; this means that you're covered in the event of an accident happening on a customer's property, so that you won't be left facing a hefty legal or repair bill. If you need a little extra capital to start or grow your business, you can talk to your local bank, or you may be able to find suitable investment online.

5. How Will You Grow Your Business?

When you achieve your first sales as a freelancer or have your first invoice paid, you will feel elated, but in business as in life, it's important that you keep moving forward and plan for the future. Freelancers who stay still risk being left behind, so you should always be on the lookout for new clients and new ways to grow your business. Learning new skills or completing new training courses can help with this, but you should always have a thorough business plan in place before you start out on your freelance career. In this way, you'll be able to see if you're on track with your initial projections, and if not, you'll be able to take affirmative action.

Becoming a freelancer can be the best decision you make, and you may find in time that you grow your business still further and employ others. This can bring tangible benefits to yourself, your family, your employees and the community you live in. Freelancers can also organize their work around existing commitments, rather than being forced to adhere to the timetable of employers. It's little surprise then that so many people are embarking upon freelance careers, and by considering these five points they can get off to a perfect start.