Several freelancers, including myself, began their careers as side gigs. It’s a great way to get your feet wet as a freelancer before making the leap to full-time work for yourself.
The good news for you is that freelancing is one of the simplest side businesses you can start while still keeping your full-time job. Working as a freelancer means you get to decide when and how much you want to work. You’ll be able to balance your full-time job and your freelance business with this arrangement.
Defining Your Purpose
The first step to freelancing, and one of the essential steps to starting a business, is knowing why you want to do it in the first place, which may sound silly. Make sure you know what your end goal is and why you’re pursuing it before you set out on your journey.
Start freelancing by being honest with yourself about why you are doing it.
- Do you want to make a little extra money on the side?
- Plan on working to become a full-time freelancer?
- Want to turn your hobby into a full-time job?
- Do you want to become a digital nomad?
Regardless of why you’re making this decision, make sure it’s the right one for you right now in your career.
We recommend that you write down your “why” on paper so that you can refer to it whenever you’re feeling stuck or unsure of your next move. Finding out “why” you want to be a freelancer will guide your next steps.
Making enough money from freelancing to cover all of your expenses is necessary if your “why” is transitioning from a full-time salaried job into a full-time freelancing career. This is a good place to start.
Make a list of the monthly expenses you must meet before quitting your job. The next step is to devise a strategy for achieving that goal. Moreover, you should lay out your purpose in a business plan.
Everything is more attainable and manageable when you have a “why,” a strategy to get there, and when it’s all laid out in a well-structured business plan.
Find Your Niche
One of the most critical steps in establishing a successful freelance career is identifying your niche. Each of us now has multiple talents that we excel at. The “do-anything freelancer” mentality is tempting, but we strongly discourage it. In fact, we strongly advise against it!
Don’t be vague about what you mean. When it comes to graphic design, what do you specialise in? Remember that you’ll be competing with all the other freelancers and companies in your niche out there, so it’s best to narrow it down.
Focus on your area of expertise. Don’t just be good at a bunch of different things; instead, focus on one thing and do it exceptionally well.
Build a Website
Because the world is increasingly going digital, it’s critical that you establish an online presence. Create one even if you’re just starting out and have no money!
Spend some time and money on a website, as this is where potential customers will find you. As a result, it will help you establish yourself as a competent professional. If you’re short on assets, make the most of what you do have.
Decide on Your Rates
Having a website means you need to post your rates. This is one of the most important considerations before starting an online business. However, the age-old question of “what do I charge?” arises once again.
One of the most difficult aspects of freelancing is this. I was terrified of this question when I first started out. I didn’t want to overcharge my customers and put myself out of business, but I also didn’t want to undercharge them either. In the end, despite all of my deliberation, I was still charging my clients far too little for my services.
Stay away from my path! No matter how young you are, you have the right to decent earnings. Negotiate. Pay yourself what you’re worth.
It’s fine to take baby steps in the beginning. Remember that you’re juggling a full-time job with your freelance work.
If you haven’t built those connections or relationships before, it will take some time to build up your business and clientele.
Take a few hours and work on one small project at a time. Give it everything you’ve got and take what you’ve learned from the experience. When you’re ready to move on to something bigger and more difficult, do so.
The best part is that there isn’t a single correct way to go about this. For instance, I’ve talked to freelancing professionals who’ve found clients on Facebook or through their own social circles.
I recommend that you begin by casting a wide net. Take a look at freelancing social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn as well as job boards and your alma mater’s website.
Even if it’s uncomfortable, tell everyone you know that you’re starting a freelance business and are looking for clients. Because everyone knows someone, you never know when you’ll run into the ideal client.
Make a list of your ideal client so that you have a starting point when looking for new clients. We’re after specifics once more. Which clients would you most enjoy working with? Small businesses, start-ups, healthcare companies, beauty businesses, entertainment companies, and so on and so forth.
Learn to Pitch Yourself
This is a monster! To land a job, you’ll need to present yourself in the best light possible after completing the preceding steps.
More clients will hire you if you get better at pitching. Make sure you know how to “sell” yourself to a client so that they feel confident in your abilities and services.
A cold email, LinkedIn, or posting on a job board won’t cut it; you’ll need to establish yourself as an expert and show the prospective employer why you’re the best candidate.
The following should be included in all of your pitches and proposals:
- Identify the issue
- Explain how you plan to resolve the issue.
- Clearly demonstrate your expertise/knowledge
Your work should be backed up by references, case studies, and a portfolio.
Create a Portfolio of Your Work
Be sure to keep adding to your professional portfolio as you grow your freelance business.
When determining if you’re a good fit for their brand and vision, clients will typically ask to see your portfolio. If you want your work to stand out, this is the place to do it!
Consider taking on some free work if you lack professional experience in your chosen field. A sensitive topic like this one, but I am all in favour of getting paid what you’re worth! On the other hand, I can speak from personal experience and say that some of the most rewarding and fruitful projects I’ve worked on were completely free of charge.
Build and Maintain a Network
Networking is a huge part of freelance work. Most of my clients come to me through my personal connections and professional networks. Many of you probably despise networking (I know I don’t), but I urge you to put some effort into it anyway.
Make an effort to get to know some of the people you admire and offer to buy them a cup of coffee. It’s even possible to order a virtual cup of coffee. Instead of making an “ask,” just listen to what they have to say. Some of these leaders will listen and be inspired by your ideas and may even connect you with one of their own contacts during these networking sessions.
Freelancing Facebook groups are also an excellent resource. As a freelancer, having a group of like-minded individuals to turn to when you have questions or need advice is a huge benefit.
Everyone is a potential customer. It is more likely that you will land a client if you meet as many people as possible.