A year and a half ago, Robin Buckallew found herself at a crossroads. As a Certified Public Accountant and relatively recent graduate, she was looking for a way to pay off her student debt more quickly than her current day job would allow. The news that her brother-in-law had been on Upwork for about six months and was able to make a complete transition from traditional work to freelancing inspired her to try it for herself.

“I always knew I wanted to have my own business someday,” she recalls. “When I started freelancing, my only plan at the time was to make extra cash to pay down my student loan debt. Luckily, Upwork made it so easy to find and close new clients, I was able to replace my income in the same month I left my traditional office job.”

Freelancers can be a good choice for budding businesses

“I work with a lot of clients who need a more experienced accountant [like myself] but can’t afford to have someone on staff full-time. Engaging a freelancer is a great option for them,” Buckallew said.

“Another benefit? Choosing a freelancer means you are choosing someone who is passionate about performing a specialized service; from my experience, a freelancer is more focused on providing value whereas an employee is focused on clocking hours.”

Cost savings are also a plus, she explains. “Because I’m a remote freelancer, my clients don’t pay higher prices to cover unnecessary overhead costs or payroll taxes.”

Positive client experiences are goal #1

“I believe that disappointment is the result of not setting clear expectations,” Buckallew said when asked how she ensures her clients have a positive experience. “I go through the exact tasks and processes I will (and won’t) be doing for each client at the start of each contract. I also try to always be accessible and responsive, so any issues can be resolved right away.”

Buckallew feels one of the biggest challenges clients can have when engaging online talent is establishing a sense of trust. “I address this with my clients by scheduling a call or screenshare so they can ask me all of their questions, verify who I am, and ensure that I am qualified to help with their project,” she says.

“When engaging a freelancer for the first time, I recommend setting clear expectations [for the outcome of the project], establishing milestones, and keeping the lines of communication open throughout the project.”

Freelancers are business owners, too

“Once I decided to leave my office job, I knew I needed to apply the same framework I teach to my clients and create a business that is purposeful, sustainable, and profitable. I utilize Asana to track and automate tasks for my ongoing clients and projects, Calendly so my clients can always see my availability and schedule as needed, and QuickBooks Online so I can work remotely and paper-free with all of my clients.”

Ready to engage a freelancer like Buckallew to take your business to the next level? Check out Upwork’s Hiring Guides to get the information you need to get started.