Freelancing has become increasingly popular in recent years. Every day, more people decide to quit their nine-to-five and become their own boss.
That said, while becoming a successful freelancer is not easy, it is not as difficult as many would think. Learn how to become a freelancer with these seven different steps.
1. Have the Right Mindset (Decide Whether it is for you)
The first thing to do is to decide whether freelancing is what you want. While it is not as challenging as many would think, it does require consistent effort, hard work, dedication and a growth mindset.
Freelancing is often seen as a career where someone works whenever and wherever they want. People frequently imagine someone traveling the world, sitting on a beach with a laptop and living an incredible life. While this is all attainable, it does take hard work to reach that point.
The truth is, finding your first couple of paying clients can often prove challenging. Thus, you need to be prepared to put in the effort to find the ones willing to give you a chance. Also, in freelancing, it is inevitable that somewhere down the road, you will face difficulties.
To overcome these difficulties, you will need a growth mindset — one where failures are seen as an opportunity to learn and not reminders of discouragement.
Next, you will need to determine whether you want to turn freelancing into a full-time thing or only do it part-time to bring in some extra cash. This choice will help you identify what types of short and long-term goals you should set.
2. Decide on the Skills You Want to Freelance
The next important decision you will need to make is the type of skills you want to freelance. Many people prefer to go with something they are passionate about or have done previously for an employer. Keep in mind the skills you choose do have some impact on the rates you can ask.
Thus in general, it is better to freelance high-paying skills that have significant demand, such as Copywriting or website development. If starting from scratch, perform some research to find the most in-demand services and decide which ones resonate with you.
3. Choose a Niche (Find Your Targeted Audience)
After selecting your freelance skills, it is time to choose a niche. A niche is a group of people or a segment identified in a market that is interested in a particular service or product. For example, developing websites for B2B SaaS clients.
While many starting out with freelancing think that they can help everyone, it is not the best idea. It is better to choose a niche that you can master. Think of it this way: you can’t sell to everyone because not everybody will require your services. Thus, it is better to niche down and sell to only one group.
This way, you will learn that niche very well and know what problems they experience. In other words, you will know what they want, what challenges they experience and how to solve them best.
4. Create a Website
Many people often say that when starting a freelance business, a website is not needed. While that is true to a certain extent, a website can prove incredibly valuable. It can showcase previous work you have done, explain your process and serve as a way to find new clients.
Having your own website can also position you more as a professional and an expert. To create your site, you can hire someone to design it for you or use a platform such as Wix or Squarespace to build it yourself. Alongside your new website, you will need a custom domain and a professional email address.
5. Choose Your Rates
Next, you will need to determine the rate you want to charge for your time. While this is an essential step, it is one beginner freelancers tend to spend too long on. First off, you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot and ask too little.
Sometimes, this could show prospects that you don’t believe in your skills or are not very good if you charge way below the average. On the other hand, if you ask too much, it can prove incredibly challenging to find clients. That said, how much should you set your rates?
It depends on the skills you have chosen, your expenses, the market average, experience, demand and your location. The best thing to do is to research and see what other freelancers charge — with the same level of experience as you — and set your prices to match theirs competitively. From there, it is about tweaking your prices and seeing what works the best.
6. Finding Clients
Finding your first client is almost always the most challenging part. After you have found someone to give you a chance, it becomes a lot easier to find your second. To find clients, you have a few options available:
- Join freelancing platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr
- Perform cold calling and mailing
- Reply on job boards
- Leverage social media platforms
- Rely on a community and your network
Initially, you will want to find your own clients, but later, you will want them to find you. Thus, it is a good idea to optimize your social media channels and your professional website. In addition, delivering good work to clients and matching their expectations can also lead to new prospects.
Many freelancers have found the key to securing a consistent stream of work is to prioritize building strong relationships with customers. Often, this leads to them referring your services to friends and family.
7. Keep Developing Your Skills
As a freelancer, it is important to keep developing your skills. This will increase your expertise and translate to higher rates. Consistently look for ways you can enhance your freelancing abilities and add more value to what you offer your clients.
This can also position you more as an expert in your field and separate you from your competitors. One thing every freelancer should prioritize is learning how to pitch their services effectively to prospects.
A great way to fill gaps in your knowledge or to learn new abilities is to take online courses on platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare and YouTube.
Learning How To Become a Freelancer
Learning how to become a successful freelancer is something that will take time. Remember, while it is challenging to land clients initially, it becomes easier after the first one.
Try to foster a growth mindset and consistently look for ways to provide value to your clientele. Doing this will bring you one step closer to becoming a successful freelancer.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.