So you wish to become a freelancer? Maybe you’ve tried it before and things didn’t work out as you saw them working out for the guy on YouTube.
Or perhaps you just came across the term “freelancer” and got intrigued by the perks of being a freelancer. Including,
- Becoming your own boss
- Earning a lot more than a traditional employer’s salary
- Being able to travel and work at the same time
Freelancing is truly an amazing opportunity to grab despite you being in college, having a full-time job, or thinking about making a career shift.
What is freelancing?
Freelancing refers to becoming self-employed and offering specialized services to organizations and other businesses. Freelancers usually work on a contract basis and as a result, they get paid more than an employee.
As a freelancer, all you need is a laptop and a good internet connection to be able to work from anywhere in the world.
But is there enough work for everyone?
Yes, absolutely. With more and more companies looking to outsource a lot of services there’s enough work for everyone.
That being said, freelancing should not be confused with entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is very different than freelancing. Know about being an entrepreneur here…
Types of freelancer
There are many types of freelancers around the globe. If you wish to become then ask yourself this,
What services can I offer for which I can get paid well?
Here are the top freelancing services you can offer:
- Web or mobile developer
- Writing or editing
- Designing (UX/UI, Graphic, Interior, etc.)
- Virtual Assistant
- Voice actor
- And many more
Steps to become a successful freelancer
The first step towards becoming a successful freelancer is to learn what you love. Build a solid foundation and extensive knowledge regarding a particular service.
Will you do content writing or graphic design? Are you going to be clicking photos or editing videos? Identifying your services should always be your first step.
If you wish to become a freelance content writer then start by building a content writing foundation. You could even take up internships and learn from them.
Once you’ve identified and learned what you love, only then can you hope for someone to pay for your services. Apart from the above, let’s take a look at the steps that will help you become a successful freelancer.
1. Define your goals
Without having a defined goal, you won’t be able to know where you are headed.
You can start by asking yourself why you want to become a freelancer?
Is it because you want to earn some extra money? Or is it because you wish to travel and work full-time as a freelancer?
Asking these questions will help you define your goals as well as get you started in the right direction.
But don’t worry, you don’t need a fully-defined goal yet. Just a direction for you to be heading towards. You can always define your goals as you move forth.
For example, you can start off to become a freelance writer and set a goal of earning INR 10,000 per month extra. As you move forward, you can then set the goal to earn INR 60,000 per month by becoming a freelance copywriter.
One thing to ensure is that you don’t make unrealistic goals. Ones that you simply cannot achieve. Start small and set goals that you are confident to achieve.
Again, let’s say that you wish to become a full-time freelancer. One that is able to quit his/her day job. To do so you’ll need to be able to earn more than what you are making from your day job.
But you most probably won’t be able to do so in just one month. So you set the goal to start earning more money from freelancing than your day job within the next 6 months.
Now to achieve this six months-long goal, you’ll need to set monthly, weekly, and daily goals for yourself.
Achieving something huge can be overwhelming but focusing on taking small steps at a time is the only way to achieve them.
2. Find a profitable niche
The next step is to become an expert. Say that you are a designer or have knowledge and practice with graphic design.
There are thousands of designers who will be willing to offer services at much cheaper rates than yours.
So how do you eliminate competition that will ultimately stop you from earning pennies just for the sake of getting work?
You become a specialist. A niche basically refers to your area of expertise.
Let’s take an example where you are a designer again. Only now your niche is to design the cover of books. So now instead of taking on every single low-priced gig offered to you, you end up taking only the book cover art gigs.
You will now be considered a book-cover-art specialist. For this reason, you’ll be getting paid much higher than a general freelance graphic designer.
So how do you find a niche?
One way is to first start by not finding one. Meaning you start by being a generalist first and then developing a liking as well as expertise towards a particular niche.
But if you already have a particular niche in mind then research about it. Look for freelancers that are already in your niche. See how much they are able to charge on an average per order. If they are able to charge a high-price then there’s a demand for that niche.
Research your niche and if it seems profitable and scalable to you then you are good to make it your niche.
Remember that the goal is to find a niche as well as make a profit.
3. Build an online portfolio
One of the most important steps in becoming a successful freelancer is creating an amazing online portfolio.
Your portfolio is a way to showcase your skills and attract high-paying clients. Consider it as the resume you’ll give to your clients to hire you.
You can create a portfolio on a website like Behance or create your own portfolio website. We recommend the later as it shows more professionalism as well as proves that you are serious.
So how do you create a portfolio when you have no work?
You can start by creating your own gigs. If you are a designer then create a design for your favourite company. If you are a writer then start writing high-quality blog posts for individuals you would like to work for.
You can even contact businesses or individuals and work free for them. Look for ways to offer people value and at the same time help yourself build an amazing portfolio.
While creating your portfolio make sure to:
- Showcase your specialty clearly by displaying your best work
- Highlight your accomplishments and skills
- Include testimonials that can boost your credibility
- Keep on updating your work. As a result, it will show the evolution of your skills
- Create examples of what you can deliver
4. Determine your fee
It’s time for you to set a rate strategically. One important aspect that will differentiate you from other freelancers is that you are a specialist. You have an area of expertise that allows you to charge accordingly.
But how do you decide what you charge?
We suggest looking at other freelancers in your niche and set your fees accordingly. If you have freelancer friends you can even ask them and get their help on the matter.
While setting your rates, keep this mind:
- How much will you be willing to pay for your services
- What is the approximate return on investment for your client if he/she avails your services.
- Avoid setting rates based on your personal expenses. It’s better if you leave your car installment out of your business.
In the beginning, you can’t really charge anything insane to your clients. Your portfolio just won’t be able to back you up on your deal.
Look for freelancers on Fiverr and try finding a middle-ground between them, what your freelancing friends suggested, and what your needs are.
5. Reach out to your existing network
It’s time for you to land your first client. Which is also one of the most difficult yet most important steps.
Because without clients none of it would matter
You might have read or heard somewhere that you should try out content mils like Fiverr, Upwork, and ProBlogger. While these are an amazing way to create your portfolio or get the gist of the game, they aren’t so good in the long run.
Some freelancers even suggest to never opt-in on these sites. It might make you never send out cold e-mails (the only constant in your freelancing journey).
So how do you land your first client?
Well, the most obvious place to look at is around you. Reach out to your friends, family, the guy who owns a business and workouts at the same gym as you. The point is to land a client in your locality.
You can even reach out to small businesses in your city. The main objective is to start getting paid and hopefully land a lasting client. This is where content mil sites become a bad idea; you almost never get a longer contract than one small gig.
While working for these initial clients, make sure to ask them for an honest testimonial. These testimonials will not only make your portfolio of high-quality but also help you improve your skills.
6. Start choosing clients carefully
This is where many freelancers start going wrong. They don’t pick the clients that will not only pay them well but also do more.
Once you have landed your first few clients, chances are that they will recommend you to their friends and then they will do the same.
There will be days where you will have more work than you can handle. Then there are also going to be days where you are out of work.
How do you avoid the later one?
By picking your clients more thoughtfully.
For example: if you design clothes for a fashion brand you will get a more steady stream of income rather than working for someone who just wants you to design one logo.
In addition to earning more, you’ll also be making your portfolio much better.
Start choosing clients that will help you earn more as well as boost your portfolio as early as possible. It is very important for sustaining your freelancing business. Even give it a boost in the beginning.
You obviously don’t need to overthink it. Instead, start keeping a minimum requirement sheet for your clients. In that sheet include things like brand perception, their budget, and so on.
Start thinking of each client as a stepping stone for reaching where you want to.
You will also need to take care of some legal and billing aspects of freelancing. So contact that CA friend as well as watch this video.