Whether you’re looking to quit your 9-to-5 or want a new side hustle, the possibility of freelancing has probably crossed your mind. You might be wondering about things like whether you have the right skills to be a freelancer, what’s needed to start your freelancing business, and how to start freelancing.
This five-step guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to start freelancing.
What is freelancing?
While the term “gig economy” might be relatively new, this way of working has been around for ages – and so have freelancers. Instead of hiring full-time employees, companies employ freelancers as independent contractors on a part-time or temporary basis to complete projects or ad-hoc tasks.
Freelancers are self-employed and free to work as much and for as many clients as they like. While freelancing provides virtually unlimited freedom and earning potential, work isn’t guaranteed and there are no corporate benefits like paid time off (PTO), insurance, or pension contributions. Still, many people find these tradeoffs to be worth it.
How to Start Freelancing – A Five-Step Guide
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably serious about getting started as a freelancer.
Keep reading to find out how to start freelancing in five actionable steps.
Step 1: Determine your skillset and the services you can provide.
You’ll need marketable skills to make it as a successful freelancer. Companies hire freelancers to augment their in-house teams and complete tasks and projects they wouldn’t otherwise have the capacity to handle.
Here are some business areas that regularly use freelancers:
- Programming & Tech.
- Business consulting, project management & virtual admin.
- Digital marketing & SEO.
- Graphics & design.
- Writing, editing, proofreading & translation.
- Video & animation.
You’re off to a great start if you have skills related to any of these areas!
Source: Business Insider
Step 2: Define your target clients.
You can’t make money without clients, so think about who is most likely to need your services.
Most freelancers make money from a combination of:
- Direct clients – There’s a fair amount of legwork involved in finding these clients because they’re the most difficult to land. However, it can be well worth the effort because direct clients tend to pay the highest rates, and having a 1:1 personal relationship with them often means ongoing business. Your network and existing professional and personal relationships are the best places to find direct clients. Eventually, if you do a great job, you might get direct referrals through existing and past clients. You can also find leads via job postings – submit your CV and a letter of introduction instead of an application. Sometimes companies turn to freelancers when they can’t find suitable applicants, and these jobs can turn into long-term work.
- Marketplace websites – Freelance marketplace websites, like enable freelancers to create profiles and match with clients who need their skills. One or both parties usually pay a small commission in exchange for the service. This is the quickest and easiest way to get yourself out into the gig economy as a freelancer. Competition can be fierce on these sites and the jobs usually pay less than direct clients. However, it becomes easier to find work and charge what you’re worth after you’ve built a good reputation. Freelance marketplace websites are an excellent option if you’d rather spend your time working than looking for work.
- Subcontracting – Subcontracting is the middle ground between direct clients and marketplace websites. In this setup, an agency sells large packages of services to clients, then breaks them up into smaller jobs (subcontracts) and hires freelancers to do the actual work. Many freelancers like this arrangement because once they’ve signed up with an agency, the agency handles all the prospecting and client communication. The downside to subcontracting is that it’s usually feast or famine, which makes it difficult for freelancers to manage their workloads or scale their businesses. The pay for subcontracting is on par with freelance marketplace websites.
Step 3: Decide on your pricing structure/rates.
If you’re starting a freelance business without a portfolio and references, you’ll probably have to take what you can get. This can mean working for less than you’d like in the beginning, but you should always have a pricing structure in mind. An ideal pricing structure will maximize your pay without driving away potential clients based on price.
Here are the two most common ways freelancers charge for their services:
- Fixed price – Many clients like to know their costs upfront, so agreeing to a fixed price could help win the job. Clients especially like fixed pricing when dealing with new freelancers because it gives them assurance that there won’t be budget overruns due to inexperience. When agreeing to a fixed-price project, it’s important to be crystal clear on things like deliverables and the number of revisions – especially on creative projects. Nobody wants to write ten copy drafts or create twelve versions of the same logo for a fixed price.
- Hourly/Daily – This offers the most flexibility for both the client and the freelancer. It’s a great option for projects that are susceptible to potential scope creep/reduction because it allows for changes on the fly with transparent pricing. However, it can penalize experienced freelancers as they become quicker, more efficient, and more knowledgeable in their craft.
Estimating long projects can be complicated, so freelancers who charge hourly or daily might be faced with three unfortunate choices:
- Overbid and potentially lose the job to someone cheaper.
- Underbid and have to ask the client to increase the project budget.
- “Eat” the extra hours for the sake of client satisfaction.
Step 4: Create your portfolio.
Most potential clients will want to see examples of past work. Your portfolio showcases the quality of your past projects. It allows potential clients to see and understand your capabilities, the value of your expertise, and what you can help them achieve. Include a selection of your best work along with a short description of how you were involved in the project and what it achieved. As a freelancer, you’ll probably have to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with some clients, so make sure you have permission to share the work. Update your portfolio regularly and get into the habit of asking clients for a testimonial at the end of each project.
Step 5: Market yourself and start freelancing!
If you’ve followed this guide, you should have a business plan and a portfolio. That’s everything you need to get started as a freelancer!
Many new freelancers start part-time to test the waters. Some decide to quit their full-time jobs to focus on freelancing, but many decide to keep it as a side hustle. Regardless of your endgame, part-time freelancing is a fantastic way to earn some extra money without the pressure of having to earn a living wage. Starting out slow with low stakes can allow you the freedom to explore which types of jobs you want to focus on and for which types of clients. It can also allow you to build solid relationships with a handful of clients who will continue to generate income for years to come.
Now That You Know How to Start Freelancing . . .
The best time to start is today. If you’ve followed our advice and created your business plan and portfolio, take the next step by creating a freelancer profile at Worxmart.
You’ll be generating income before you know it and have more freedom than you ever dreamed possible!