I remember when I started all this that everyone I knew used to say "freelancing is good, but on the side" or "just a part-time will do. You wouldn't wanna lose your 9 to 5 benefits" – excuse me, what?
I've been freelancing for over a year now and it's the best thing that happened to me. Working when I want, from where I want, and making a five figure income? Hell, yeah.
I know you're not interested in when or why, but in how, right? It's alright. I'll guide you through the process, step by step, and you'll be able to become a full-time freelancer too.
What is a Freelancer?
Before we dig in, you should know what a freelancer really is, because sometimes the image is pretty bad. A freelancer is a sole trader, an independent contractor, and a person who doesn't work for a company – you can work WITH a company.
A freelancer looks for opportunities or even creates them when they seem hidden – are you a web designer and you see a poorly designed website? Find the contact form and give an email. Or maybe you're a photographer and you see a website with very bag pictures? Same. Send out an email! I got quite a few projects just because I noticed some writing and design mistakes, so everything is possible.
What Kinds of Freelancers are Out There?
Almost any job you can think of can become a freelancing career.
You can become a freelance model, photographer, writer, web designer, graphic designer, musician, videographer, sculptor, painter, accountant, virtual assistant, bookkeeper, etc. All you need to do is... Well, start.
How To Start Freelancing?
What I'm about to tell you comes strictly from my experience – which helped me earn $50,000 a year, from my bed.
1. Start Building Your Brand
Before you start, you need to understand that you are the brand, and your services are the products – remind me to write a blog on branding too. 😉 As you progress through your new career, everything will change, I promise. But for starters, you need something.
You need a name, you need a logo, you need something specific to you. When I started, I had a small WordPress blog where I carefully tried to showcase all my products – that didn't work well, though. But I learned and adjusted, and here I am now – giving advice to people I don't know on the internet.
2. Decide What You Want To Do
And by this, I mean choose a niche to start with. I started out as a writer, and it's still the thing I love most. However, I have people coming to me for SEO services, web design, photos and the regular consultancy. And I have the same brand, so don't worry about it. As long as your name is not limiting, you have nothing to worry about.
When you choose your niche, think about what you like to do most – not what can bring you the most money. You'll be stuck in a career you don't like, and even though it will bring you money, you'll have every single day of your life – I am a bit dramatic, but I'm right.
3. Set Up Your Social Profiles
By social profiles I mean, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, UpWork etc. They can all bring you customers. I started out by using UpWork and Instagram to get projects, and UpWork is still the best – I know everyone's complaining about the competition, but that's exactly what unsuccessful people do. You need to push through, be perseverent and learn when to back up – remind me to write an article about how to get work on UpWork. That's gonna be an interesting one.
4. Build a Portfolio
I normally wouldn't mention this, but when you start you need a portfolio. Only put your best work in it, and know when you don't need it anymore. After you finish some big projects, social proof will be enough for you to get even bigger ones – no one asks me for a portfolio nowadays, but I'll make sure they need my help from the first conversation – you'll learn how.
5. Set Your Prices
Free work is not an option – not even free tests, those are the ultimate BS. Even if you're just beginning, your time is worth something – that something is money and experience. Of course, you don't want to be the type who will learn everything on the client's money. I've heard that a lot of times and it's the worst thing you can do. Luckily, you have access to the internet, so you can learn how to set your prices – or you can remember me to write an article about this.
6. Start Looking for Clients
If you don't already have some connections, they UpWork will do just fine. Make sure you are honest with your clients, understand their requirements and make sure you don't take each other for granted.
In your pitch, make sure they understand what you offer, when you can have it done, and give them a reason to choose you over other freelancers – you get bonus points if your website looks amazing.
7. Start Building Your Empire
I know it sounds fancy, but at some point, you start to understand that you're building something for yourself, and that moment is wholesome. You get to the point where everything makes sense, and you can only go forward – give me a ping when you get there. I'll send you a cute celebratory emoji.
Golden Rules in Freelancing
Don't stress over routines
I hear this way too often – people telling other people to make routines. For me, it doesn't work like that. I don't wake up every morning and start working. Sometimes I go for a walk, other times decide to spend my entire morning taking a warm bath, and other mornings I don't even wake up until noon. In my case, a routine would make my freelancing career a 9 to 5 job, which to be honest, sucks.
You don't need a plan
While I was researching my competition for this article, I found some people insisting that you need a definite plan with all the steps you are going to take, along with a timeline and a flying unicorn – the flying unicorn part is here just to make a point. Oh, and they were selling consultancy. You can't possibly start with the perfect plan. You're literally just beginning and EVERYTHING will change along the way. Don't waste precious time with a plan you're going to ignore anyway.
You can do it your way
I know that sometimes you get a bunch of rules from people who did or didn't do something, but you don't have to follow anything or anyone. All you need to do is make sure you become the best freelancer in your niche, and worry about the rest later.
FAQ on Freelancing
1. Can I become a freelancer without experience?
Yes, you can. But that stands as long as your are willing to learn and improve your skills. You can't learn everything on your client's time and money, so you'll need to spend a lot of time reading and testing.
2. How much money can I earn as a freelancer?
That depends on how much you're willing to work. I know people working for $500/month, I know other people working for $2000/month, and other people going up to $8000/month. As long as you work on yourself and improve the quality of your work, you can only go up.
3. Can I become a freelancer in UK?
Yes, you can. It doesn't matter if you're in the UK, US, India, Pakistan, Romania, South Africa, etc. What you need to understand is that clients don't look where you're from. They look at what you do, how you talk, and how you can solve their problems. Location is not a problem, especially in the internet era.