Whether you’re thinking of making the switch full time, or just want to generate an extra side income, you’re probably wondering, how do I become a freelancer?
Freelancers work as their own boss, providing service to many clients and enjoying the opportunity and freedom of determining what to charge, when to carry out the work, the potential to earn more, and many more benefits. This is just the tip of the iceberg. In this article we’ll take an in-depth look at what’s involved in freelancing and how you can become a freelancer.
Freelancers are essentially self-employed people and when effective, they can earn much more than an employed person doing the same work. Additionally, it allows an individual to decide their own work-life balance. A mother or father may choose to pursue fewer hours working and more time with their family. Therefore, they may offer their services on a part-time basis and choose projects that satisfy their requirements.
When you become a freelancer, you operate similar to an independent contractor in that you are free to control how you complete work, taking into account the client’s needs and specifications.
Freelancing is a great opportunity for people to create the life they want, especially if it enables them to pursue an area where their passion lies.
How Do I Become A Freelancer? 7 Essential Steps
1) Decide your services
Starting out as a freelancer will involve you determining the service you want to offer clients. Focus on a skill or service you developed from the area you work in or have worked in before. But make sure you enjoy doing it.
If you are still in your job it is a good idea to start building your network before you leave. It is also a good idea to start freelancing on a part-time basis to ease into it. Start small and gradually build up your client base. Websites such as Upwork, ProBlogger and Freelancer are useful places that can help you find some projects and clients.
You could begin by contacting local business to see if they need your services. Reach out by sending emails highlighting the services you offer. You’ll need to follow-up on these if you want to generate leads which is time-consuming, but can also lead to long-term professional relationships.
2) Creating your brand
A strong brand plays an important role in determining your success as a freelancer. By successfully establishing your brand, it can really set you apart from others and enable you to gain a competitive advantage.
This is where having your own website, blog and social media accounts such as Facebook, Quora, Google+ and twitter, can come into play. These mediums will allow you to reach much more clients than traditional means.
Centering these around what makes you unique and your message, can really help prove your brand. Your personality plays an important role in establishing relationships and clients. If people do not like or trust you they are unlikely to buy anything off you. By being active on social media and asking and answering questions you can build your brand and engage with potential clients. Establishing online communities, or groups, is another good way to build a following. Reach out to influencers on social media.
It is also a good idea to speak at events and seminars. This will allow you to portray yourself as an expert in that area and further strengthen your brand. Attend industry events and network like crazy. Be sure to have plenty of business card ready to hand out. Every contact you make counts.
When dealing with clients, it is important to act professional. You want to build trust with your clients and make sure that are aware that you are competent and capable of delivering the high quality work that they want. To help with this be organized, have proper contracts and rules in place.
3) Build a portfolio
A portfolio is a great way to demonstrate your work, quality and abilities. Obtaining positive testimonials will further increase your chances of success. This is difficult at the start and may necessitate the need to undertake pro bono work to make a start on building your portfolio.
When building your portfolio it is important to consider the type of clients you want to attract in the long-term. It is tempting to use everyone and anybody to build your portfolio, but using the right clients to build your portfolio can really set you up for the long term.
It is also important to remember that it’s not necessary to have loads of examples in your portfolio. Three or four good examples of your work is enough to attract clients. Otherwise you will spend much of your time undervaluing your work and even damaging your future potential pricing. Once you gain your experience, set your prices based on what your work is worth and don’t drop below that price.
Another great way to get new clients is asking for referrals. We may not like doing this but it can actually be a very effective way of landing new clients and can by done by sending a simple email to previous clients/ Here you should ask if they need extra help and to keep you in mind for their friends and colleagues who may need some work done.
4) Determine your price
Knowing what price to charge is tricky. Your network of other freelancers will be able to help you decide the right price to charge. You can check and see what fees they are charging.
Once you start getting rehired by clients for providing them with quality work, this is a good sign that your price is correct.
There are many tools online that will help you establish your rate to charge. The Freelancer’s Hourly Rate Calculator provides an hourly rate based on your business expenses, personal expenses, billable hours and desired savings.
5) Get yourself a good accountant
It is important to have a good accountant from the get go who can help you set everything up properly and give advice on expenses, taxes and setting up the business. An accountant can help you come up with a plan to help you budget for your expenses and taxes each year which can make it a lot easier. They will be able to advice you on which expenses you can offset against your income to lower your tax bill.
You can also join groups such as:
- The Professional Contractors Group (PCG) (UK)
- Independent Professional Contractors Ireland (IPCI)
- Euro Freelancers
- Freelancers Union
- The National Association of Independent Writers and Editors
- US Press Association
6) Create a business plan
Creating a business plan is a great way to put everything in your head down on paper. This helps keep you on track and clearly see your goals. It may seem like extra work but it is definitely worth doing. It is perhaps one of the first things your should do before you pursue freelancing.
By preparing a business plan, it will help you find any potential issues and challenges which you can then address accordingly or set up ways of dealing with them. It will also allow you to clearly find how you are going to attract clients etc. There is a misconception with freelancing that you can just stay at home and the work will come to you. This is not the case, especially with the sheer amount of freelancers out there offering their services. You need to put yourself out there and find the work and clients. Freelancing requires work and effort to make it a stable business to support your family.
Creating a plan for even 30 days ahead is a great way to set goals, set up financial targets and keep yourself on track. It will allow you to see clearly what is your minimum requirements and goals to keep your head above water.
7) Keep your costs low
Make sure that you work as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Keeping your costs low will enable you to maximize your earnings. Look closely at what is working for you and what is not. By establishing what is not working you cut it or alter it so you generate a return.
Consider how the costs of certain activities could be reduced. Can some of your marketing be done using free methods. Can you use free social media tools instead of paid tools?
If you stick to these 7 simple steps you’ll be more than able to answer the question ‘How Do I Become a Freelancer?’ All that’s left now is to pick your niche and get started!