The Freelance Kickoff Checklist

Written by Emilie Brunet

More and more people are turning to freelancing in tech.

Freelancing can come with a whole slew of benefits from setting your own hours and prices to being your own boss to working from wherever it pleases you.

Setting up your freelancing business however can take a bit of time, and if you’ve never done it before, you might not even know where to start.

We’ve outlined the ultimate “basics” checklist for what you want to keep in mind when launching your freelancing business. It outlines some of the systems you want to ensure you have in place as well as other things to keep in mind before you get started.

Let’s dive in.

Part 1. Initial Set Up

These are things that you might want to have set up before you even start reaching out to people about freelancing work.

This should have at a minimum a page that introduces you, explains what services you provide and how you can be contacted. In addition, it should also demonstrate projects you’ve worked on.

Your website should be registered under a domain that is your name.

Usually when you’ve registered for a domain name, it’s easier to get a professional email. Your email can be something as simple as

It’s really important to have a contract for freelancing services before you start working with a client. It helps with clarifying what it is that you are actually doing, ensures you actually get paid and makes the entire experience more professional.

🚨 Important Note: Logo and branding

If you’re just starting off this isn’t as crucial. Spending too much time developing a logo and brand before you even get your first client can be pointless. Your name and website is enough of a brand for now. After you have more clients and start finding what your “niche” is, you’ll be able to hone in on more precise branding.

Part 2. Systems

"You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems." - James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits

If you’ve read the book Atomic Habits, you’ve probably heard this quote before. I’m a huge advocate for good systems. When you’re freelancing sometimes the thing that takes up the most amount of time, isn’t working on your clients work, but rather working on the administrative side of your freelancing business.

That’s why, when you’re getting started, it’s important to get a few systems set up right from the get-go. Trust me. If you don’t do it from the start, you’ll find yourself way more stressed in the future.

Invoicing software isn’t just important for streamlining sending invoices to your clients, it’s also important for tracking expenses that you spend on your business.

If you’re just starting off and have zero funds to launch your freelancing business, I’d suggest just using Wave for now. It’s 100% unless you want to take payments via credit card.

If you’ve got a little more money to invest, Freshbooks has progressive pricing with more features to track your expenses.

Tracking your clients, their invoices, their contact information, etc is really important for staying organized.

Hubspot has a good free plan, but careful, because the moment you want to increase to higher features, it’ll cost you an arm and a leg (and a few feet, too).

If you don’t have a lot of clients, something as simple as a Notion CRM template will do wonders.

If you have a good Client Relationship Management (CRM) software, this is often simply integrated into it. However, nowadays, the Google Workspace has more and more integrative features including calendar booking links.

Just remember, Google is free for a reason— it’s tracking everything. Be sure not to save any confidential client information in Google.

This is a severely underrated system that you want to have in place from day one. The best way to get more clients is by having your previous clients say great things about you.

Something as simple as a Google Form that you send out to your clients when you’re done working with them will do wonders. You can not only use their feedback to help you improve as you’re just starting up but you can also use their review as testimonials for your website.

Part 3. Finances & Logistics

Take the time to read about how sales tax works in your region. If you’re in Canada, you need to register your business to pay sales tax once you’ve hit $30,000 in a year.

You don’t think you need it, until you really freakin’ need it. Get it earlier than you think.

Keeping your personal expenses separate from your business expenses can go a long way when it comes to reconciling year end accounts. Even starting by simply getting a separate credit card that you use only for business expenses and a separate chequing account. It doesn’t need to be a “business” account yet, but just anything to keep the personal away from the professional will be helpful (and your accountant will thank you).

Don’t store confidential client information anywhere other than secure places. Make sure you set up secure passwords for all of your accounts. Privacy laws are getting tighter these days, so make sure to check the laws in your region to avoid any possible issues in the future.

Part 4. Marketing 101

If you can create a simple lead magnet on your website it’ll make a huge difference in the number of people who reach out to you.

A downloadable feature, a newsletter or anything that can get someone to give you their email.

It doesn’t even need to be complicated, if you can offer a 30-minute free consultation call, that’s a lead magnet right there.

When someone searches you they check two places: Google and Instagram. Social media is the number one way to do business nowadays. But it doesn’t need to be a big game. Ensuring you have an active business Instagram page where you post at 2-4 times a month can go a long way.

That’s the absolute basics. And can be applied to pretty much any online freelancing business. Are you ready to jump in?

Are you a seasoned freelancer? What do you wish people had told you to set up from the start?

About the author

Hey, I'm Emilie 👋🏻

I'm the Business Support Manager at Journey Education. I have always had a passion for writing, organization and finding creative solutions. I aim to be personable, empathetic and compassionate and believe that kindness can go along way in both business and life.

Having worked and organized with anti-capitalist, feminist and queer organizations, I strongly believe that EVERYONE deserves, not just a living wage, but a thriving wage and that it should be the priority of every business to create an inclusive, caring and diverse work environment that doesn't just ensures the work happens, but allows people to be people while the work is happening!

My approach to everything I do reflects my training in trauma-informed practices, active listening and harm reduction as well as my interest in understand the way people work, behave and exist as their full human self. I want to create safer spaces for people to explore, create and excel in a supportive environment - whether that's in life or at work.