Taking on freelance work as a project manager not only provides you with a great variety of projects, but also you can set your fees and rates. Going freelance is a big step, so this article will guide how to become a freelance project manager and find your first clients. We’ll dive into the following areas:

  • Gain experience and skills
  • Register your business and taxes
  • Create a website
  • List your services on directories
  • Utilise LinkedIn to find clients

Gain experience and skills

You don’t need a particular degree to work as a project manager, but experience in a project manager role will be required to gain clients. You might have worked as a project manager for a few years before deciding to take the leap to set out on your own, and you’ll need to gain certain skills along the way.

A good project manager should be skilled at the following things:

  • Efficient and friendly communication 
  • Organisation
  • Networking
  • Budgeting for projects
  • Management and leadership
  • Good interpersonal skills

Potential clients may want to see evidence that you have the experience and these skills before taking you on as a freelancer.

Register your business and taxes

Now you need to tell HMRC about your tax status as self-employed and register your trading name. Here are the steps you need to follow.

Decide if you’ll operate as a sole trader or a limited company. A sole trader is a straightforward structure to manage and work with, but a limited company may give off a more professional image as a consultant. To begin with, a sole trader may be easier, and you can always change to a limited company once you are more established.

Then register your tax status with HMRC (as you’ll be managing the tax for your earnings). 

We’d recommend opening a business current account to be paid into. A separate account will make managing your tax and expenses easier. You’ll be able to invoice clients efficiently, and it will allow you to see your freelance earnings without having them confused with your personal transactions.

Create a website

It’s a good idea to list your services on a website so that potential clients can look at any past work, reviews and the benefits of project management you could provide. You can create a website at a relatively small cost by using platforms such as WordPress or Squarespace that have site templates you can use. You don’t have to pay a designer or developer to help you when using these templates, and you can create something simple and effective to market your services.

List your services on directories

You could also join a freelancer marketplace to find clients. Popular freelancing websites include:

  • Fiverr is a freelancing platform where freelancers can set their rates to match their skill level, with prices per project ranging from £5-£10,000 depending on experience.
  • UpWork is one of the largest platforms and offers a lot of exposure for freelancers. Unfortunately, there is a lot of competition, so new consultants may find it difficult to get jobs.
  • PeoplePerHour allows you to show off your skills in several ways, like building an impressive profile and even participating in competitions to get noticed by potential clients.

Utilise LinkedIn to find clients

In B2B work, LinkedIn is the social media platform where you should be spending your time. It can take time to build a presence, but it can be a valuable and consistent source of leads for freelancers if done correctly.

First of all, complete your profile. Don’t leave any section blank. Fill in various skills and include your most relevant experience, using statistics and figures to make your achievements attention-grabbing. Ensure you have a friendly and professional-looking headshot too. 

Don’t forget to include the keyword “freelance” in different sections of your profile. This will signal that you are available for consulting work to anyone searching for a freelance project manager.

You can also add ‘actively looking for work’ to your profile so that any headhunters or businesses can see that you’re available for projects. Under your profile picture, you’ll find a box that allows you to show that you’re job hunting. To change this:

  1. Click on the box that says, “Show recruiters you’re open to work.”
  2. Fill out the pop-up with your availability
  3. Save the changes

Next, ask clients from projects you’re particularly proud of or people you had a strong working relationship with to write some recommendations for you about your skills and previous work.

Engage with others

The culture on LinkedIn is based around information sharing and building relationships. So try to post updates 1-3 times a week and create talking points by sharing content and expertise. You can do this by:

  • Posting articles you’ve written
  • Sharing any research that you found interesting and comment on it
  • Discussing how you solve common problems in your industry
  • Share content and insights from industry influencers
  • Show potential customers the value you have as a freelancer, such as anonymised results or graphs from previous client projects

Comment and connect with influencers, other project managers, and businesses you’d like to work with. By engaging via comments and posts with others in your industry and companies you’d like to work for, you can build relationships with people that could become valuable clients. 

Look for opportunities

Look at any current jobs available by searching “hiring freelance project manager” in the Jobs section of LinkedIn. Then try words such as “seeking”, “needed”, or “looking for”. This search will bring up individuals using their profile for hunting for someone of your skillset, and you can contact them directly. 

Repeat this in the ‘People’ and ‘Content’ searches and filter the results by ‘Latest’. The search will bring up any articles or posts that mention current consultant opportunities. Browse and see which posts apply to you, apply for the role, or contact those individuals.

Save time on financial admin with a simple app

When you’re starting your own business, it’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate from day one – to save yourself from time-consuming admin headaches further down the line. 

When you sign up for a Countingup business current account, you’ll receive free accounting software with a range of time-saving tools. 

Simply log into the app to create and send invoices, get financial insights, and confidently manage your new business finances. Find out more here.

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