Freelancing 101 – A Comprehensive Guide to Become a Successful Freelancer
- 19 June, 2021
The demand for freelancers is growing exponentially, and a large number of these independent professionals are deciding on quitting their day jobs to start full-time freelancing.
At first, it seemed as if freelancing had just sprung out of nowhere but it promptly turned into a trillion-dollar market that every individual is desiring to get into.
While freelance contractors have been around for ages, it is the COVID-19 pandemic that has pushed freelancers, and the freelancing industry as a whole, into the limelight more than ever before.
However, when you decide to step into the freelancing world, you will most likely feel nervousness taking over you. You will start questioning, “Where do I begin?” How am I going to attract clients? How do I find freelance jobs near me? How much will I earn initially?
Although all these questions may plague your mind, don’t be overwhelmed by them. To ease your worries and help you get started as a successful freelancer, we have developed this comprehensive guide that will answer all your questions related to freelancing.
What is Freelancing and Who is a Freelancer?
Freelancing is all about offering your services independently to businesses of all sizes. A freelancer is a self-employed individual who provides services according to their skill, experience, and knowledge. For instance, a freelance graphic designer may offer services in logo designing, banner designing, website designing, etc.
As a freelancer, you can charge as per your liking or according to the methods set by online freelance marketplaces or agencies. For instance, you may offer your services against hourly rates or a fixed rate.
While a freelancer is not bound to any employer, they can be hired on a subcontract. Some contracts even restrict who the freelancer may work for until the project is completed.
Freelancers may offer their services in a wide range of specializations, such as translation, consulting, voice-over, transcription, graphic designing, digital marketing, and software development, etc.
The Important Benefits of Freelancing
Freedom of Choosing Who You Work With: You have the distinct advantage of picking and choosing clients you want to work with. You may also have the liberty to deal with one client at a time or multiple clients simultaneously. Well, we recommend that you take one order at a time so you can offer undivided attention and produce quality and beyond satisfactory work.
Ease of Working in Any Hour of the Day: It is especially appealing to be able to choose your own working hours. You become your own manager and are liberated from the 9-to-5 hassle.
Liberty of Working with PJs On: You are your own boss as a freelancer. You decide on your workload, timetable, dress code, and every other facet of your business operations.
The Flexibility of Remote Working From Anywhere: Because a lot of freelance work is done online, you may work completely remotely – with clients all over the world – and travel anywhere you choose while you are at it.
Opportunity to Explore Diverse Industries: Freelancing allows you to expand your horizons. You get to work with clients from diverse industries, and thus, you are able to amass good exposure and experience.
Opportunity to Earn Without any Limits: There’s no need to wait for an entire year for any appraisal or raise. As a freelancer, you can earn as much as you can ever imagine, providing that you offer high-quality services.
Opportunity to Improve Skillset: When you work as a freelancer, you work on a range of projects. Each project adds something fresh to the table while also allowing you to broaden your skillset.
How to Become a Freelancer with No Experience?
Be Clear with Your Goals
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” – Lawrence J. Peter.
Being clear with your objectives while starting a freelancing career will be your first step towards success.
When you get into your car, you certainly know your final destination and wouldn't set out on your journey until you know where you’re headed.
Similarly, you shouldn't start freelancing without having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve.
Do you wish to work as a part-time freelancer or make freelancing your ultimate income solution? What do you really want to do?
Keep in mind that freelancing is never nice and easy. You may probably have to put in added efforts in your initials days than the efforts you put as an in-house employee. Plus, there’s a tough competition out there as millions of people are offering services as a freelancer globally.
Only those freelancers who are focused and consistent will ultimately outperform in this business model. With that said, setting your goals and direction should be your first priority.
Know Why You Want to Start Freelancing
To become a freelancer, you'll have to encourage yourself every day to acquire new clients and win amazing projects from them – and the first step is to figure out “WHY” you're doing it in the first place.
Ask these questions:
Do you want to start freelancing just out of boredom?
Or you want a way to supplement your current income?
Or perhaps, are you planning to start freelancing for a full-time income?
How much do you expect to earn as a freelancer?
Where do you see yourself after investing 5 years into your freelancing career?
You must figure out the “whys” because this mindfulness and motivation to become a freelancer will serve as a north star for achieving success in the long run.
Have the Right Mindset
As a freelancer, having the right mindset is crucial to your success. You will fail if you do not believe in yourself and do not fully back your decisions.
Consider it this way: We all have these kinds of thoughts about ourselves.
"I'm not going to be successful"
“Making money is difficult”
“There’s no worth in the work I do”
These thoughts and outlooks eventually become beliefs that misguide our future actions.
And if you feel that it’s unmanageable to become a freelancer, you'll undermine yourself and accept that as your reality.
So, before you start freelancing, you need to get your head straight.
Act in a way just like you would if you had already accomplished your goal.
What’ll change is that you won't worry about money, you'll be well-organized and follow established procedures. You'll believe in your skills and that what you're offering is beneficial to others.
That is how a boss acts.
Choose The Skills You’ll Start Off With
Whether you want to work as a part-time or a full-time freelancer, your career will be based on the specific capabilities you possess. Those skills will be your most valuable asset.
So the first step is to identify the many capabilities you've developed over the years that others may not have and people would be willing to pay you for them.
Begin with a basic spreadsheet. Start listing each particular skill you can think of in the first column.
Examine your previous job experience, your interests, and talents to determine which path is best for you.
You might have experience in one or multiple areas, such as designing, writing, virtual assistance, accounting, social media marketing, or digital marketing.
A clear picture of your interests will assist you in deciding a service you're most suited to provide.
Once you've decided on a service, you'll need to get a good grip on the required skills and polish them to perfection. Plus, you will also have to cover the many facets of those services. For instance, writing involves different facets, such as blogging, ad copywriting, email writing, etc.
You must have a basic understanding of what freelance writing entails, the services you can provide as a writer, and the types of clients you will serve.
Specialize in A Skill
Advancing and proving your worth as a freelancer within your niche will increase your chances of standing out.
Remember that you can hardly be the best at everything but surely you can become the best at something specific.
If you choose to offer a lot of services without any specialization, this may lead you to be just another freelancer, with no way of distinguishing yourself from the vast majority of other freelancers who do the same thing.
This may lead clients who are interested in your services to seek you out merely because you are a less expensive choice and since you, as a freelancer, are readily replaceable.
If you want to get noticed as a top-class resource, you must demonstrate that you are an expert in a specialized field; otherwise, you will be just another person who "does everything."
For example, when you become a first-rate freelance animator, you establish yourself as a leader in the industry, which allows you to charge higher fees since clients will choose you based on the quality of your work rather than your pricing.
Do not be concerned if the area and skill you choose seem already saturated.
That indicates there is a lot of demand for your skill and a lot of work chances. It's also okay if you want to work in a lesser demanded field since it implies the industry may want more freelancers.
As a freelancer, advancing and showing your value in your niche will boost your chances of sticking out.
Pick a Niche
Freelancing for beginners can be a bit challenging. You must be thinking about “what the heck is a niche?”
Basically, your niche would be a specialized segment of the market chosen by you.
The reason you need to niche down is that a million other people may be offering the same services you intend to provide, and you can’t beat everyone.
When choosing a niche, confine your services to a certain area. It will be simpler for you to refine your skills, give excellent service, and charge good prices.
Continuing with our previous example if you choose to work as a content writer, decide whether you want to be a copywriter, blogger, social media content developer, or article writer, to name a few.
Remember that when you aren’t clear on what type of specialization fits your skills and experience, you will find it difficult to:
Establish yourself as an expert.
Locate prospective clients and land freelance jobs.
Consider how you can best serve your customers.
Stand Out in Your Line of Work
Now that you've decided on a certain skill set and niche, it's time to put in the work to make yourself stand out within your industry.
How do you go about doing that?
Knowing what you want to specialize in can help you to focus your efforts more effectively. If you're a writer, you may narrow your focus even further by choosing a niche, such as copywriting.
The more niche-specific you can be, the better your chances of success will be.
Keep in mind that you should not stop learning and gaining additional skills in relevant areas within your specialization.
Let’s take a look at an example of Sergey Shapiro’s portfolio. Sergey is a graphics designer and calligraphy artist applying writing skills in his graphic design projects.
When a prospective customer views his portfolio and learns that he also offers calligraphy designs, the client will more likely to hire him over other candidates.
Amy Booker, a freelancer who specializes in couples’ photography, is another example.
Clients will be more attracted to hire her over a generic photographer since she specializes in a certain sort of photography and has accumulated years of expertise in this field.
Go All-Out and Learn New Things
Never stop learning is one of the key principles of success in professional life.
Ambitious freelancers constantly try to keep up with the current trends in their field and explore anything that piques their interest. Make the most of any chance you get to take a course or class that can broaden your expertise in your field.
Understand How to Sell
Your most important talent as a freelancer will be how to market and sell your skills.
If you're amazing at what you do but don't know how to market it, you'll have a hard time finding high-paying clients.
Make a powerful first impression with an elevator portfolio that already offers tremendous value and demonstrates that you are a talented freelancer.
Sell your strengths
Let your work do the talking
Provide relevant work samples and previous projects to back your skills
Value quality over quantity
The Skill of Selling Develops with Time and Experience
Nothing is straightforward at first, but you will gradually learn the greatest strategy to sell yourself.
The idea is to be constant in your efforts to identify better customers and projects that are more suitable for the sort of job you want to do.
You'll figure out what works best for you over time, as well as what you should and shouldn't do.
There are a lot of brilliant freelancers out there, but not everyone possesses great selling techniques. If you can combine the two, your personal brand will be strengthened, and you will stand out.
Here are some courses that’ll teach you how to sell:
Build A Strong Online Presence
Clients are more likely to find you if you have a unique online presence. But how do you do it?
You can create your visual identity by being active on online platforms such as personal websites, social media, Facebook groups, and any other relevant platform.
There are so many ways to establish an online presence these days.
Craft an Engaging Portfolio
Creating an appealing portfolio is the best way to build your online presence.
To start freelancing, a CV alone won't get you the kind of clients that will help you develop a good, long-term career. You'll also need to build a portfolio of work to present to potential clients.
Freelancing for beginners may not be lucrative in the beginning. So, at the very start of your career, offering your services in exchange for experience is a good thing as this will help you to build trust, hone your skills and get plenty of work to add to your online portfolio.
If you're a content marketer, you can send pitches to online magazines, writing on subjects that are relevant to your expertise. You'll gain valuable visibility and bylines as well as be able to show off your talents and niche knowledge.
Another way is to publish on websites like Medium. There are a number of other publications you can locate for writing. You can also start guest posting on influential blogs in your niche.
When creating your portfolio, do not forget to display the samples and the links of your work along with your profile on your chosen freelance platform.
Also, make sure to include a professional profile shot of yourself, a good pitch, and real client testimonials.
Create Examples for Your Clients
One of the finest methods to demonstrate you're in the know within your field is to regularly produce fresh content. This will impress your intended clientele.
Once you’ve figured out what your customers want, go out and generate samples of that precise sort of content as if you'd been hired to produce it.
If you're a web designer, for example, your portfolio site should be precisely managed since it's a reflection of what you'll be able to create for your customers.
If you're a freelance content writer, your blog entries should reflect the high quality of work you'll do for every client.
The same thing goes if you’re a freelance graphics designer. Make sure the samples on your site reflect the quality of work that potential clients desire.
Do Social Networking
Networking is a must since freelancers depend on a steady stream of clients. Your portfolio will lead you nowhere if you don’t have potential clients to show it to.
Social media can work as one of the best tools to create your online presence. If you're fortunate, you can find a customer by personal connections who may need you for a long-term project.
So, if you choose to do freelancing from home, being active on social media networks will make you much more reachable and your followers will consider you if they need your offered services.
Similarly, you may add a lot of valuable content on your social networks that will emphasize your talents and competence as a freelancer.