What Is Freelancing? 5 Steps to Start Your Freelance Journey
Freelancing has become a trendy word nowadays, and you must have heard it around here and there. That raises the question- What is Freelancing? The simple answer is freelancing refers to independent working without being associated with a particular company.
With the growth of the digital economy, many people are choosing freelancing as their career. Freelancers have the freedom to opt for a regular 9 to 5 job or work according to their schedule.
Freelancers also have the option to work remotely or in an office. Before answering questions like how to start freelancing, what freelance work you can do, who can do freelancing, or do freelancers make good money, let us first understand “what is freelancing?”
What Is Freelancing?
Freelancing means working independently without being associated with a single organization. Freelancers never commit to a single client. Instead, they use their skills, specialization, education, and experience to undertake various projects for multiple clients. Their clients can either be a person or a company.
Freelancers do not work in a traditional 9 to 5 job setup. As their profession is contract-based, there is no mandate on them to follow the timetable of an office. They work according to their convenience and hence enjoy a flexible lifestyle.
Clients hire them on a project basis and they get paid accordingly. Freelancers take up multiple projects in a month. They sign contracts with their clients in which they specify the fee they will charge and how much time they will commit to the entire project.
You may want to check out the best freelancing sites
Why is Freelancing the Future?
The freelancing industry is quickly gathering steam. Freelancers are their brand, interacting with clients directly, which reduces the threat of this industry being overtaken by AI. They tend to make more money as they have the power to choose the projects they want to work on. The disparity in payment based on gender is lesser as compared to other industries; one gets paid based on their skills and quality of work.
In this everchanging market scenario, freelancers are the ones who thrive as they are required to stay up-to-date with new trends and new skill sets. Freelancing gives one the freedom to grow professionally at their own pace. It is an opportunity to gain exposure and tap into international markets while nurturing interpersonal and problem-solving skills.
Most industries are now hiring freelancers to complete one-off projects because this model is financially favorable for them. It reduces the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training employees. This has led to a surge in the number of job opportunities for freelancers while giving them a wide range of options to choose from. It has never been easier to connect with people from across the globe and work remotely.
Freelancing has brought about a significant change in how people view “work” and with more people joining in, this industry is set to grow exponentially in the future.
Here are the skills required to become a freelance content writer
What Freelance Work Can I Do?
Companies are hiring highly skilled freelancers to work on various assignments and projects. Freelancers can use their expertise to offer various types of services. They can work in any of the following sectors: –
In freelancing writing services, offer your expert writing services to your clients. Convert them into an audience through your effective, engaging, and creative writing skills.
- Content Writer
- Creative Writer
- Ghost Writer
- SEO Writer
- E-book Writer
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Web And App Development
If you are keen on coding and want to develop websites and apps for your clients, then freelance in any of the following categories.
- WordPress Expert
- Website Builder
- UX / UI Designer
- Server Administrator
- Plugin Developer
- Game Developer
- App Developer
- App UI Designer
Creative designing is not easy, but this freelance service is in huge demand. Designing is a vast field. Here, we have listed some of the best fields.
- Graphic Designer
- Logo Designer
- Infographic Designer
- Brochure Designer
- Flyer Designer
- Advertisement Designer
- Presentation Designer
- 3D Model Designer
Are you interested to assist your clients to grow their business? Can you generate leads for them? If yes, then freelance marketing is for you.
- Social Media Marketer
- Search Engine Marketer
- Content Marketer
- E-mail Marketer
- Branding Services
- Lead Generator
- Content Strategist
- Market Researcher
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Have you developed an authority in your professional field? Then, help your clients by giving them expert advice.
- SEO Consultant
- Digital Marketing Consultant
- Management Consultant
- Legal Consultant
- Career Advisor
- Financial Advisor
- Health Advisor
- Relationship Advisor
As an admin freelancer, you have to assist your clients to maintain their office settings and run their business smoothly.
- Virtual Assistant
- Project Manager
- Data Entry
- Recruiting Agent
- Technical Assistant
- Administrative Assistant
- Order Processing
You can freelance in any field. The question is, can you convert your skills and experience into a profitable service? Here are few more freelancing ideas.
- Private Tutor
- Video Editor
- Travel Planner
- Financial Analyst
- Voice over Artist
Check out: Is content writing a good career for freelancing?
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How To Start Freelancing?
You can start your freelancing journey by following these 5 steps:
Finalize The Services You Are Going to Offer As A Freelancer
The first step in your freelancing journey is to turn your skills into a profitable service. Your services should solve the problems of your prospective clients.
Make a list of all the skills and passions you possess. In the beginning, don’t think about the monetary value of your skills. Then, prioritize one or two skills and pursue them first.
Do Market Research to Find Your Client Avatar
Now that you have decided what freelance services you will provide, start researching about your competitors. See what services they are offering and to whom. After finding your clients, identify their pain points and common services they opt for.
As a freelancer, you have to actively search for potential clients. Your client avatar can be a small business owner, start-up founder, coach, influencer, and many more.
Build A Compelling Portfolio Showcasing Your Accomplishments And Past Projects
A portfolio with good quality sample work will help you to establish yourself as a trustworthy freelancer. If you have samples of your past projects and great testimonials, then do include them in your portfolio.
A beginner freelancer with no work experience may ponder how to get testimonials and samples of past projects. Then, work with beta clients. Offer them your services at a nominal price in exchange for testimonials. Work for only 2 to 3 beta clients.
Afterward, charge properly. Decide on the pricing structure but don’t make your rates permanent. Be flexible and don’t overthink your pricing.
Optimize Your Social Media Profiles to Get New Clients
With the optimization of your social media profiles, you can increase your visibility and better connect with your ideal clients. You can use Facebook groups or other social networks like Instagram, Linked In, Twitter, or Pinterest to find your clients. Also, use freelancing websites like Upwork or Fiverr to discover new clients. Once you get on a call with your prospective clients, perfectly pitch your services and seal your deal with them.
Develop A Strategy to Attract High-paying Clients
To make freelancing your full-time career, you need to find long-term high-paying clients. Some strategies you can use to get such clients are cold e-mailing, collaborating with other freelancers, networking with people in your industry, and posting valuable content on your niche. Before getting on a call with them, do your thorough research and confidently pitch your services to them.
How Do Freelancers Get Clients?
It can be intimidating for new freelancers to find clients on their own. Even for an established freelancer, it is crucial to keep bagging clients regularly. Mastering the art of connecting with potential clients is a key to become successful in this industry. Working in this industry means your progress depends on your connections with the right people and bagging the right projects.
The most common way of securing clients is through online job boards for freelancers like Fiverr, Upwork, Flexjobs, and many more. You can register yourself with a job board suitable for your specialization to get started.
Facebook and Twitter are the leading social media sites to look for potential clients. You can join various job groups on Facebook which connect clients with freelancers. A good answer to a query on Twitter can land you multiple projects.
Networking is key to finding clients and LinkedIn is a great tool to help you connect with clients. With LinkedIn Jobs, it is easy to find clients looking to hire freelancers for projects in different domains.
Apart from virtual networking, attending local networking events and meetups are also a key way to be introduced to potential clients. Sending out emails and newsletters (email marketing) to potential clients can also grab their attention and help engage them with your content.
What Skills Do I Need for Freelancing?
Freelancers need to run their businesses. To become a successful freelancer, you need to develop an attractive personality and nurture your skill sets. A freelancer requires the following skills to grow big in this industry.
i) Sales And Negotiation Skills
A freelancer needs to convince clients that his/her service will help them to grow their business and secure their income goal. Sometimes clients may want to negotiate with you about your rates. You must stick to your pricing and calmly explain to them the logic behind your rates.
ii) Communication Skills
Communication skill is important to present your ideas precisely and briefly. Your clients may not understand the jargon and technical words of your industry. You need to learn the art of conveying complex terms in simple words.
iii. Time Management
In a day, a freelancer may have to work on multiple projects, organize meetings with your current clients, prospect for potential clients, maintain your social media handles, etc. Hence, a freelancer must create a schedule and stick to it.
iv) Stress Management Skills
Freelancers mostly work alone. To run a profitable business, they may also overwork. This causes burnout and stress. To maintain your mental health, work with cooperative and high-paying clients. Also, take scheduled breaks and relax.
v) Accounting Skills
You are the owner of your freelance business. Your income is also not fixed. You need to maintain your financial details as well as get familiarise with the financial terms. You can hire a chartered accountant to deal with your taxes.
But you need to be aware of your investments. Remember in freelancing you not only have to make money but invest properly to flourish your business.
A career in freelancing comes with a host of benefits. Some of them are:
- You are your brand! You control your work schedule. You can choose which client to work with and which work to reject. You can also take on several projects at a time to increase your income.
- There is no real limit to how much you can earn in a given time frame. You can have multiple sources of earning with different projects. With consistency and the right skills, you can soon be making six figures in a month.
- Freelancing helps you to grow your skill set at your own pace. It helps with improving your interpersonal skills and situation management. You can get global exposure and work with clients from all over the world.
- You have the benefit of working from your home or even traveling while working. Most projects do not require you to be near the client and you can communicate virtually.
- You can start a small business out of your freelancing job. After gaining some experience and determining which field works best for you, you can start a freelance agency to further increase your clientele.
- As a freelancer, you don’t have the fear of getting fired or losing your job due to a global pandemic. As long as you manage to find clients your income is secure.
How to Mitigate The Risks Involved in Freelancing?
A career in freelancing is as risky as it is rewarding. Because you are basically on your own, you can face some problems in your initial days. Here are some problems and how you can deal with them:
- The biggest risk is inconsistent earnings. Your income depends upon your ability to secure clients and deliver quality content.
You can start by mapping out a business plan with your goals for the next 3-4 years. One of the best ways to have constant payment is to ask for half of the payment upfront. It is quite common in freelancing and the clients expect it. You can also work on improving your negotiation skills to land a better deal.
- You might not think about it, but as a freelancer, you are prone to lawsuits. If you are sued, your business or personal assets will be adversely affected.
You can protect your assets from a lawsuit is to get liability insurance. The insurance agency will defend you and pay settlements or other charges.
- As a freelancer, you don’t get to have benefits like health insurance and paid sick leaves available to salaried people.
Look into the health insurance policies available in your region. If they are too expensive you can look to get a tax credit or any other benefit available in your region.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do freelancers make good money?
If you are thinking of pursuing freelancing as a full-time career or a side hustle, it is common to consider the money you will be earning for your efforts. Freelancers make more money than you think; with some experience and expertise, you can earn more than the average office worker from your home.
According to research, freelancers based in the US earn an average hourly rate of $20 in 2020. Upwork’s research shows that 60% of the people who pursued freelance leaving behind their full-time job, make more money as compared to their past jobs.
One success story is that of Jyssica Schwartz, a freelance book editor who earned $10,000 in just one month. In her article in Medium, she writes that a big part of her income is through referrals. Linda Formichelli is a freelance copywriter who makes a minimum of $250 an hour.
With some calculations, you can see that you can earn $10,000 a month by working just 10 hours a week at $250 per hour. You can also earn as much as them if you put time and effort into developing your skills and deliver on your initial projects.
2. Which freelancing site is best for beginners?
For someone who has just got into freelancing, it can be confusing to choose from the many freelancing sites available. It is important to choose the right market to sell your services and find an environment that suits your working style.
The best sites offer a diverse range of clients and a supportive community. The best site to start your freelancing career can vary depending upon your expertise in a particular industry. It is always advisable to choose freelancing sites that cater to your expertise as they will enable you to connect with suitable clients. In case you are still in the process of discovering your specialization you can register with any top freelancing website which caters to all industries.
Fiverr is one of the most highly rated freelancing websites. It connects clients directly with freelancers and is considered a beginner-friendly platform. With 3.42 million active clients as of 2021, it makes it easy for freelancers to land clients.
Due to its popularity and large clientele, Fiverr is also one of the most competitive freelancing sites. Though once you manage to establish yourself, it is easy to keep getting clients. Some other freelancing sites that you can check out are Upwork, Thumbtack, and FreeUP.
3. Who can do freelancing?
Freelancing is said to be a form of self-employment where a person offers their services in exchange for a fee. They don’t necessarily work with a single client but usually have an ongoing working relationship with clients.
If you are wondering if you can become a freelancer, then the answer is yes, anyone can become a freelancer. You can choose freelance as a full-time gig or make it a side hustle for some extra income.
- First, you need to develop a business plan outlining the type of services you will provide and the field you will cater to.
- You will need to develop your skillset to fit into these markets. Make your portfolio; include work samples and content to show the quality of work you offer.
- Build your network through social media and start connecting with potential clients. You can use LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to get connected and pitch your work.
- Be consistent in your work and stay up-to-date with the changing market trends. Work on your interpersonal skills and your negotiation skills.
- After completing a few projects work on building lasting working relationships with clients or look for retainer clients. This will help to keep a steady flow of work coming your way.
By now, you must have got a clear idea about the steps you need to follow to become a freelancer. In a nutshell, you need to finalize your service, search for your client avatar, build a portfolio, optimize your social media profiles, finalize pricing and finally make a persuasive pitch. You are also aware of the benefits and risks involved in freelancing. Pursue freelancing only if you are certain about it.