Freelancing is awesome – and I can’t stress this enough especially when I’m around friends and convincing them to quit their corporate jobs.
As there’s a word “free” in “freelancing”, you get more freedom than traditional employees in regards to the work that you do, where you work from, and the hours you keep. Since freelancers are essentially self-employed, this lifestyle has become aspirational for many looking to break in.
If you are wondering how to start freelancing, read on for an easy step-by-step guide on getting this new stage of your career off to a solid start.
1. Choose Your Focus and Niche
Decide what skills you have and what type of tasks or niche you want to focus on. When people think about freelancing, they’d automatically assume that it’s only for writers, but best believe that the possibilities are endless!
You can specialize in marketing or public relations work, become an online tutor or virtual assistant, or even get paid to do data entry, just to name a few. Your best bet is to build on an area where you already have some experience and make this service the center of your freelance business. That way, you already have a natural starting point that you can expand on.
If you want to know how I chose and succeeded in the path of Digital Marketing, here’s an article I previously published.
2. Prepare Your Portfolio
Now that you’ve chosen your niche and your focus, it’s time to build your portfolio. It doesn’t have to be as elaborate as the others. If you’re planning to do graphic design, create sample designs for product packaging or web page mockups. If you have a blog on the side and would want to offer writing, use it as your portfolio.
Be creative and take all the time you need in fine-tuning your portfolio.
3. Start Your Client Search
Once you officially enter the freelance job search, you’ll discover just how many jobs are out there. When you’re first starting out, you may be willing to take on some jobs that pay less than you’d prefer. But stay vigilant. You can find many job boards that focus specifically on freelance work.
Set up some email alerts and follow key professionals on social media. Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out if you see a potential opportunity that might suit you.
4. Keep Your Day Job First
If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, I highly recommend you keep your day job. Start small by squeezing in a few hours at night or over the weekends. That way, you’re sure that you have enough experience to secure paid freelance work full time. Doing so before you’re ready is a financial risk that many people can’t swing — and there’s no rush.
When I first started my VA job, I was working at a BPO company in Manila. I was actually doing it 4 hours a day after my shift in the BPO company. Eventually, my boss told me to just quit my corporate job and he’s more than willing to double my current rate just so I can focus on his company and grow the business with him.
5. Establish Connections
When you’re a new freelancer, you will definitely not feel comfortable at the start, no matter how ideal the freelance lifestyle may be for you. You’re the new kid in school — and the only way to overcome this awkward stage is to push through it.
Join various Facebook groups, find some blogs and job sites where like-minded freelancers are, and network your butt off. You never know where your next job may come from or where a new relationship may lead. A simple online search will uncover a wealth of resources. Take advantage of them!
6. Send that Proposal
You’ll never really land that client if you keep holding off on sending that proposal letter. Just send it!
If you’re comfortable doing pro-bono, you can offer them to be a beta client and in exchange for your service, ask them for a referral letter and a testimonial which you can use to get paying clients.
7. Never Stop Growing
Because you are self-employed, your opportunity for advancement is two-pronged. On one hand, the choice is entirely yours what rate you set for yourself and the projects you take on. But on the other hand, you have to value yourself enough to actually raise your rates and aim higher in your ambitions.
No business exists for very long if it’s afraid to grow and evolve, and you have to treat your freelance work the same way. Keep pushing yourself to take on bigger, higher-paying roles. Likewise, continue to learn more about your craft and find ways to make your operation more efficient every year.
Freelancing Isn’t Free
I hope these tips have given you enough direction to jumpstart your freelancing career. Like any rewarding path, becoming a successful freelancer takes patience and more than a little personal sacrifice.