In the past, earning money entailed waking up at the crack of dawn, maneuvering through traffic, and sitting behind an office desk for 8 hours of unbridled misery. Fortunately, times have changed, and there are plenty of opportunities to control your work schedule and earn a living even from the comfort of your home with freelance jobs!
Statistics show that over a third(!) of the US workforce are freelancers in some capacity. Ostensibly, it is an attractive work model and that is perhaps why you might be interested in getting started as a freelancer.
Frankly though, there is a lot you will need to know to run a successful freelance business. It ain’t a picnic, in fact when you start freelancing you might find that it’s a full-time job to get any work. If you want to be your own boss, and running your own freelancing business, you will need the right skills in order to become a successful freelancer.
To stand a chance in the freelance marketplace, you need to know where to find freelance work and new clients, how to stay productive, how to manage finances and client relationships, and more. This guide will explore everything you need to know as you delve into the world of freelancing.
Determine WHY you want to become a Freelancer
The most crucial step to resuming a successful freelancing career is to figure out why you started in the first place. Clear goals and objectives will serve as the basis of your career and give you a sense of purpose.
Perhaps you have grown weary of your day job and are looking for a way out. You might also want to fill in your extra time with a few freelancing gigs and earn extra cash. Maybe you want to put your writing skills to the test, or fulfill your dream of becoming a graphic designer!
The next key step is to define your objectives clearly, so you are not wandering aimlessly as you pursue your new career. Ask yourself whether you want to try freelancing for a couple of months or if you are willing to stick with it for many years till you become an expert in your field. It would also help to establish whether freelancing is a side hustle or your primary source of income. That said, it might be good to start small.
See Related: Easy, Proven Ways to Sell Your Skills Online
Find something You are Excellent at
After carefully considering your “why,” the next step is to find a marketable skill. Your freelance services needn’t come from any particular industry – they could range from your hobbies, passions, or tasks you can perform effortlessly without much struggle in your free time.
For instance, a freelancing career in animation or graphic design would be an excellent fit for artistic folk. If you are good with numbers, you could be a freelance accountant and balance the books for small businesses without the time or expertise. If you’re a wizard with words, why not think about becoming a freelance writer?
However, if you don’t consider yourself talented or have never worked before, there are still ways to get you on the path to freelancing. You could go to a mentor who has done freelancing for an extended period or look for demos online that illustrate how to navigate various freelancing services.
Know your Target Audience
Successful freelancers use their skills to address their client’s problems or fill a gap in the marketplace. Once you are confident that you can offer top-tier services, the next step would be to identify who would be the best fit for you. As a rule of thumb, do proper market research to determine whether your target audience has common characteristics and a shared problem you could use to your advantage.
It would also help to know where to find your target clients to position yourself appropriately. Are most of your target audience on social media like Facebook or TikTok, do they prefer using platforms like LinkedIn or Reddit, or are they only going to be found on freelancing websites? Regardless of the audience, you should definitely navigate to job posting platforms to look for clients.
Fine-tune your Skills
It isn’t enough to be good at something as a freelancer. You must be exceptionally skilled to keep getting clients and build your portfolio. Once you have discovered what you are passionate about or what comes naturally to you, it’s time to polish up those skills.
It would be wise to take advantage of the numerous resources and learning materials on the internet – particularly YouTube or MasterClass. Learn the basics of your craft and practice your skills as often as possible till you become perfect.
Determine a suitable Freelancing Platform and Marketplace
There are many freelance platforms in the market including the likes of Upwork, PeoplePerHour, Freelancer.com, and more. That said, the competition on these freelancing sites can be high that freelancers might resort to engaging in bidding wars to get jobs. In some cases, if you don’t lower your prices, the client will hire the next freelancer offering a lower price. The best option would be to find a reasonably new marketplace with clients that could benefit from your services.
A new market has lower competition and will allow you to build a good reputation. If you opt to stick with established freelance platforms, choose one that is beginner-friendly, and with low competition, so you have a higher chance of landing jobs.
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Invest in the Right Tools
Depending on the nature of your freelancing work, it would be wise to get the right equipment to help you deliver quality work. For instance, if you are interested in doing online work, there is not much freelancing you can do with your mobile phone. You would need to at least invest in a good laptop that can run the required software you need to complete tasks.
Then there’s the software itself. It’s mighty handy to have tools that will help you manage clients, projects, pay, expenses, and so on. Do your research, and find what you need to run your business effectively.
Ensure you do ample research on the essential tools and equipment you would need to pursue the freelance career of your choice. When you stabilize, you can always invest in more advanced equipment!
Don’t dive head-first into Freelancing!
Unfortunately, freelancing doesn’t guarantee you will get rich quickly – far from it. It might even take four to five years before you gain stability. You might also find freelancing too overwhelming and that you’re better off at your day job. Therefore, it wouldn’t hurt to dip your toes in the water by pursuing freelancing part-time as you decide whether it is your cup of tea. This experimentation period could also help you assess how easy it is to secure jobs before you decide to make it your full-time source of income.
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Set up a Full-time Business after you gain experience
It is important that you take baby steps as a beginner to learn the ropes. If you have been freelancing part-time and have gained lots of experience, you can move to the next step and set up a full-time business. Again, take it slow as you transition to business.
For example, don’t try to do everything on your own. You could outsource critical tasks and lessen the burden on your shoulders. It will also save you cash in the long run.
For instance, if you have launched a creative agency to offer consulting services to small businesses in areas such as SEO, graphic design, advertising, and marketing, you could outsource a backend app development company to help you with the software side rather than hire a team in-house. This will help you grow your business faster!
Build an impressive Portfolio
We cannot stress how important it is to build a robust portfolio from the onset of your freelancing career. Your potential clients will be more confident in your capabilities once they are satisfied with your previous projects. An impressive online portfolio also gives you a competitive edge and makes you the more favorable choice.
Therefore, it would be wise to create a personal website where you can showcase all your previous freelance projects in one place. If you offer multiple services, you are better off creating separate folders with appropriate titles so your clients can easily navigate the website. If you are new to freelancing, you could complete projects for yourself to add to your portfolio or work for free so you can gather numerous positive reviews.
Set Reasonable Prices
Money is likely one of the reasons you chose to be a freelancer. As a freelancer, you might have a hard time settling on a reasonable price for your services. If the price is too low, you might seem cheap or make losses. On the other hand, if your prices are too high, potential clients will shy away from working with you.
The best approach to pricing would be to determine what other freelancers in your niche are charging their clients. It would also be wise to consider your level of expertise when formulating a pricing strategy. If you are a beginner, it won’t make sense to charge the same as an experienced freelancer who has honed their skills.
Learn how to Write a Proposal
A haphazard or poorly written proposal will reduce your chances of landing a job. Remember, the goal is to convince clients that you can give them value for their money with your top-tier services.
You also want to give the client reasons to hire you and not choose another freelancer in the same niche. Therefore, it would be wise to put a lot of effort, care, and consideration when writing your proposal.
You could use project management tools to help make your work easier and give you a competitive edge. You could also spice things up using PowerPoint or video presentations to make your content easier to digest.
Exceed your Client’s Expectations
Once a client accepts your proposal and hires you, it’s time to get to work. Your output will determine whether the client will hire you again or refer you to their friends seeking the same services.
While it would be a great idea to just “meet” your client’s expectations, go above and beyond what your client expects from you. This trick will guarantee maximum client satisfaction, and you will hardly get a negative review. Plus it makes it easier to negotiate better pay!
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That’s it! We hope you are now ready to get started as a freelancer. Remember, freelancing isn’t some WFM get-rich-quick scheme. It comes with a fairly steep learning curve and you should always look to grow your knowledge if you want to stand out in your field. You can always use resources on the web and build networks online and even offline. It will certainly help you get more clients and manage your resources better!