How to Start Freelancing: A Complete Guide

Have you ever dreamed of pursuing freelancing to make money off your valuable skills?

Freelancing is an exciting and rewarding career choice. You can freelance in nearly any industry including writing, graphic design, and even bookkeeping.

The only problem is, where do you start?

Learning how to start freelancing on the right foot will help your career as a freelancer become as successful as possible.

You should note that freelancing isn’t always going to be easy. It is, however, possible and can earn you financial freedom.

Do you have what it takes to be a freelancer? Here’s what you need to know about how to start a freelancing career!

Understanding Freelancer Jobs

Freelancing is a career where you do contract work for various clients and companies. Freelancers include self-employed workers and independent contractors.

Freelancing is becoming a very popular career choice. Many millennials are opting for freelancing gigs due to a struggling job market. After the pandemic of 2020, even more people across multiple generations turned to freelance out of necessity.

Freelance is a flexible career path. You can choose to do it part-time for supplemental income or jump all-in and pursue your freelancing full-time. There’s really no right or wrong way to freelance.

You can freelance nearly any skill you have. A few popular freelancing options include:

  • Writing
  • Tutoring
  • Graphic design
  • Web design
  • Developing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Proofreading
  • Consulting
  • Administrative
  • Photography
  • Marketing
  • Interpreter

The jobs don’t end here. If there’s a demand for your unique skill set, you can freelance. By following this guide, you’ll find there are many freelance jobs for proofreaders, designers, tutors, and much more!

Choose Your Niche

The first step when learning how to start freelancing is choosing your niche or area of expertise. Those who are new to freelancing may feel they’re open to any type of work that comes their way. Over time, you will need to find a specific niche in your field.

Wait, wouldn’t a niche market make it more challenging to find jobs?

Let’s think about what your clients will want. Do they want someone who has a general understanding of the job? Or, will they want someone who is an expert at this specific job?

Most clients will prefer the expert.

Becoming an expert in a niche area of your field, as long as there’s a demand, will help you grow your reputation. You may have to do a little research to find the right niche. Investing your time to become an expert in one area of your field will pay off.

Be Clear With Your Services

You will see a variety of freelancer jobs come your way. You’ll find some of these jobs will fit your skills and services better than others.

If you want to find jobs that better fit your skillset and interest, you need to be clear on what services you offer and don’t offer.

Specifying your services will only continue to benefit you. You’ll be able to build your brand and build your portfolio in the direction you want to grow your career.

Agreeing to projects that don’t align with your career goals may help you make money. They will, however, delay you from becoming the best in your field.

Define Your Freelancing Goals

Speaking of career goals, what are yours? Freelancing is a venture that requires goal-setting and planning to help you keep track of your business.

Setting long-term goals will set achievable short-term goals.

A few freelancing aspects to consider are:

  • Whether you want to freelance part-time or full-time
  • If freelancing your end goal or a stepping stone to something bigger
  • If freelancing will be a way to earn supplemental income

From there, you’ll be able to craft smaller goals to help you grow your skills and your reputation in your field. Always continue to set attainable goals to maintain focus and help you achieve your bigger goal.

Polish Those Skills

With your goals and marketable skill identified, you’ll need to make sure your skills are up to par. In simpler terms, you need to be good at what you do if you want people to contact you for your services.

If you don’t have the necessary skills to be the best in your field, then you’ll need to learn them before you start freelancing.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to return to school to build these skills. There are online articles, tutorials, videos, and free courses you can take on your own time.

A valuable skill to learn is time management. Learning how to work from home can be challenging. Setting goals and practicing self-management skills will help you become more successful

Be patient with yourself as you learn and polish your skills. Learning and practicing a new skill takes time.

Have the Right Equipment

You will need the right equipment to ensure you deliver great work on time.

A common mistake some freelancers make is relying on their smartphones to complete the job. Could you imagine writing a 2,000-word blog article on your phone? Would you take professional photos using your phone’s camera?

The proper tools will help you deliver better-quality work. You’ll learn to grow your capabilities and complete your work more efficiently.

Invest in a decent computer or DSLR camera. Your clients will thank you.

Define Your Ideal Client

Being picky with your clients and freelance work be hard. The last thing any new freelancer wants to do is turn work away.

Working with the right type of clients will help you create better quality work and make the work you do more enjoyable. No freelancer wants to spend their valuable time working on a project that doesn’t align right with their skills or their goals.

Start by identifying which businesses will benefit from your services and which ones can afford your rates. From there, take note of their demographics and learn how you can attract similar clients in the future.

Established businesses consider this their target audience. You’ll create an ideal client profile whose needs parallel with your career goals. These same clients can help advocate your skills which will help you grow in your freelancing business. 

Create a Quality Portfolio

A prospective client is unlikely to work with a freelancer without seeing their prior work. Collect your past and current works and publish them in an online portfolio.

Your portfolio can be a full website or a simple webpage, whichever you feel is best to showcase your work. The best portfolios will only feature your best work. Limit yourself to no more than ten to fifteen pieces of work.

If you feel a piece isn’t your best or doesn’t align with your career goals, then don’t include it. A portfolio showcasing your skills and the type of work you want to pursue will help you attract the right type of clients.

Determine Your Pay Rate

Let’s talk about every freelancer’s favorite topic: money. Setting your pay rate can be an uncomfortable subject.

Set your prices too high, and you may scare away a potential client. Set your rates too low and clients may take advantage of you.

Don’t let negotiation and setting your rates feel personal. Reputable clients will be happy to pay a higher fee to a freelancer with an impressive portfolio and can deliver high-quality results.

Setting the right price is a two-way street. If you want your clients to pay higher prices, you’ll need to deliver exceptional results.

How To Start Freelancing Part-Time

If you can, start freelancing part-time before you quit your main job. The first steps to freelancing, such as building your portfolio and sharpening your skills, takes time. Building your client base and your reputation also takes time.

Before you ax your day job, start freelancing part-time. You’ll get a taste as to what freelancing is like and whether it’s the right career move for you.

If you find you like it, wait until you can make about 50% to 75% of your current day-job income before quitting your job.

The other benefit is you can be selective with the clients and work that comes your way. This gives you the ability to choose projects that pay well and coincide with your career goals.

Market Yourself

There are several places to find freelance work but every avenue requires you to market yourself.

New freelancers will need to spend time applying for gigs and marketing their skills.

Make this process easier by utilizing freelancing websites and platforms. You can build profiles showcasing your work, skills, and services. The platforms will help connect you with potential clients and businesses in need of your specific skill set.

Check out freelance communities in your location to build a network of freelancing colleagues. They, too, can teach you valuable tips and connect you with possible gigs.

Take Control Of Your Career Today

Is your dream to work from anywhere on projects you love? Learning how to start freelancing is a great way to pursue your career goals and enjoy the freedom of being your own boss.

By following these freelancer tips, you’ll set your freelancing career for your success!

Do you enjoy learning more ways to better your life? Check out our latest Work and Personal Life articles to find more ways to improve yourself and your life.

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