A Complete Guide to Starting a Freelance Career(Last Updated On: March 5, 2016)
Have you ever thought about starting a freelance career?
Have you had a chance to meet any freelancer who works online and you didn’t figure out about his money making strategy?
If you’re wondering how you can do freelancing or at least how people make money with freelancing, then this is the right place to scratch a bit and find the clues that will surely help. Because this might be the best thing you’ve come across regarding a freelance career — and of course — the article is designed not only just to explain freelancing, but to help guide you to start it right away.
This will blow your mind…
Do you know 53 million Americans who are associated with freelancing which is 34% of the overall workforce?
It is estimated that it will reach 40% by 2020.
CloudPeeps recently came up with an interesting article on freelancing trends in 2016 which clearly shows that Freelancing is on the boom.
What You will Learn in This Article?
- What is Freelancing?
- Top Freelancing Platforms
- An Alternative Freelancing Strategy
- How can you Survive as a Freelancer without joining the freelancing sites?
- Rules for being successful with Freelancing
- Tips to Growing an Online Community
- Conclusion and Your thoughts!
Before we go any further, let me tell you a bit about freelancing.
What is Freelancing?
Freelancing is a business lifestyle in which an individual sells the service without being hired on the permanent basis. A freelancer works as an independent contractor who gets hired by the companies to get their specific work done, in other words you are the boss of yourself. The freelancing field is rapidly increasing in all parts of the world. The professionals from the fields such as web development, software development, content writing, graphic designing, fine arts, teaching, and business consultancy are joining the freelance model. Not only does it help them make extra cash, but they also opt to work full-time as a freelancer.
How to Start Freelancing :
Starting a freelancing career might be a bit challenging for newcomers, but the continuous evolution and learning will always help freelancers grow. The freelancing begins with the following steps:
- Talent Identification: This is the very important part of your freelancing strategy, first of all find out what you’ve got and what you always liked. It could be a hobby or something you’re at it. Make it a sellable proposition and shape it to market it. Whether it’s a graphic designing art or a cake baking service, offer whatever you have got.
- Polishing the Art: Being a freelancer doesn’t mean to just keep on selling your art without getting hired on a contract based job, in fact, you have to keep your learning process on to hone your talent and knowledge.
- Hunting the Opportunities: This steps in your freelancing career teaches you to market your service as a freelancer. It’s more a brand building and marketing step where you build your identity and present yourself to get hired. Although, it also includes reaching out to the customers and brands with your offer, but it would be worth it if customers reach out to you after they feel that you have the value and talent to deliver.
- Improving Yourself: Remember that success with any field lie’s with continuous improvement and learning new things. IT Industry known for it’s advancement and improvement at a very fast speed as compared to other industries, so never ever settle, always tend to improve, keep on learning new things in your industry, this will get you an ultimate success in freelancing.
Now Once you’re clear about your talent, learning, and grabbing the opportunities, you’re good to proceed with it. Now, the traditional freelancing technique will lead you to the freelancing platforms where customers arrive, post their jobs, and hire the freelancers to get the job done.
Top Freelancing Platforms
There are a number of freelancing platforms available online. It’s more or less a territory-based market as many freelance marketplaces are popular in the specific countries and a few have launched the local versions of different countries which make them stand out from the competition. Take a look at a few freelancing platforms that you might consider:
- Freelancer – Freelancer is a popular freelancing site launched in 2009. Its headquarters is based in Sydney, Australia. They have offices in Vancouver, London, Buenos Aires, Manila and Jakarta as well.
- Upwork – Upwork came out as a result of Elance-oDesk merger resulting the advent of the biggest freelancing platform on the market. Elance-oDesk merger turned out as Upwork.
- Guru – Guru is yet another popular freelance marketplace which was founded in 1998 in Pittsburgh as eMoonlighter.com. Later on, in 2002, it was acquired by Unicru.
- Fiverr – Fiverr has been quite a buzz around the freelancing arenas. The job costs $5 on average, whereas different offering could make it to a couple of hundreds deal but do not under-estimate Fiverr for it’s $5 services because there are many ways through which you can get a job just by having a good freelancing profile. Additionally, In case if you are working on Fiverr, then do checkout Ahmed’s 5 Quick Tips to be an Awesome Fiverr Seller.
- PeoplePerHour – PeoplePerHour is a London-based freelancing platform. It was founded in 2005. It allows freelancers to post their jobs and charge the money they want. The merger between (Elance-Odesk) – now Upwork has created a place for another freelancing platform and here PPH cashed the opportunity by coming into the market at right place and right time. So far my own experience with this platform is top notch.
Key to Success on Freelance Platforms
There are certain elements that kick off your freelancing career at those platforms:
Consistency on the portal
You got to admit that consistency does help. Once you choose the platform to hang out, make sure that spend time there on the regular basis. Unlike those freelancers who start off with the freelancing platforms with the aim to achieve big and end up in a month or two when they don’t get any project. The consistency is the key to success, especially in the freelancing. Don’t opt multiple freelance platforms, just do it on a single one.
Better communication ability
Without improving your communication skills, it would be quite a difficult story for you to exchange the point with the customer. Most of the customers analyze the capacity and caliber of the freelancer with his/her communication skills. Most of the times, it works with the message, but once the relationship between a freelancer and the client builds up, they also move to Skype or Google Hangout to connect with each other, and if that doesn’t go well, it could hurt your reputation. So, keep on trying to improve your communication skills.
Righteous skills to portray the solution
It’s extremely important to explain the case decently. Whenever you bid on a project, double-check with yourself that you clearly understood the problem and you have the solution. Don’t go to write a comment or bid on that project right away. The customer would take the time to select the best candidate anyway. Always bid for the relevant projects with your talent. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer and use to design logos, banners, corporate stationery, then go for a web development project if you didn’t master your skills in the web development. Always go for what you do better.
Most of the freelancing sites you’d ever come across would have paid and free membership models. It’s always better to get a paid subscription in order to avail the better options and opportunities of getting hired. There are always perks attached to the paid plans and subscriptions, which is why professionals prefer paid plans.
Before you go any further for selecting your freelance platform, make sure that you know about the payout options. Maybe, you wouldn’t have that payment method which that site is using and you end up frustrated at the end of the month. So, before you start working, make sure that the freelancing site you’re using has multiple payout options such as PayPal, Skrill, Payza, Bank wire etc.
Must Read Articles :
- 15 Common Freelancing Mistakes Which are a ‘NO’ Go For Any Freelancer
- 9 Steps to Creating a Stand-Out Freelancing Profile That Wins Business & Clients
An Alternative Freelancing Strategy
Many of today’s freelancing experts and full-time freelancers believe that freelancing is a business — You don’t need to take it as a part-time job in which you can hardly invest 2 hours a day and earn a few buckets on the weekly basis.
Well, the point is whether you take it a lifestyle or a full-time business — it would actually lead you to another approach to freelancing. This approach to freelancing doesn’t follow the formal trends and norms of freelancing, not to mention the freelancing platforms. However, everyone doesn’t agree with this model as customer acquisition looks way easier on the freelancing platforms.
In this alternative freelancing strategy, a freelancer has to do everything on its own. Besides that, what a freelancer achieves on its own helps him/her building a credible brand name on the market. Let’s call it ‘Reputation’…
How can you survive as a freelancer without joining the freelancing sites?
There are three techniques in this strategy that will help guide you, not only just in surviving in the competitive freelance market, but also thrive as a brand:
A personal brand reflects your talent, name, and face and replaces a traditional brand name along with your personal brand. You can be anyone from anywhere to build a personal brand. For instance, if you’re a motivational speaker and get the speaking gigs occasionally along your job or business, and you’re doing what you love to do and you set up a brand that reflects your passion, name, and face, then it would be your personal brand.
As far as freelancing is concerned, there is no harm in building a personal brand for a freelancer. All you need is clearly show that you’re a freelancer and this is what you offer as a service. Of course, you need a number of things to reach out people and communicate with them to build your audience in order to market your freelance service.
Take a look at the major components of a personal brand:
- Building a Website/Blog: It all starts from a website and a blog. You must have registered your personal domain in order to get started with your personal brand. Get your site ready in a few minutes using WordPress. Without a website/blog, the job of building a personal brand would be halfway through. So, you better complete it properly.
- Name and Face: Your name and face must be there on your website or blog in order for people to correlate both and remember along the way. The online marketing experts like Jeff Bullas and Zac Johnson have focused on the personal brands.
- Social Media Profiles: There is no way you can ignore social media. Social media doesn’t mean that you should be making a social media profile on every single platform you jump on. Just select two or three platforms and focus on them. I have seen ample of people who are getting jobs and new customers via their facebook profile, it’s because they have spent time on making their profile a good one and building some authority. (Remember people are comfortable with those people who they know personally, and here come’s the role of Social Media)
- Networking with People: This is another important thing you need to do for personal branding purposes, building connections with people and doing networking helps know more people about what do you do. In my personal experience, like i said above, most people are comfortable with doing business with people who they already know, this helps in building the trust they can rely on, so focusing on networking with people is another great way for personal branding. You can take help from Social media, attend events related to your field, talk with people & make more friends.
- Discussion Forums: Discussion Forums are another great way for customer acquisition. Many people use this method as a source for customer acquisitions not only because it’s cheap but additionally it helps you in building yourself as an authority. So what the game is? Find relevant forums in your industry, like I work in Digital Marketing Industry and in my field, BlackhatWorld, WarriorForum rules out, but the list goes on. So once you have selected few forums, you need to register there self with a username and profile. Add your website or service details in your forum signature link and start helping people by answering their questions in the forum. Most Forums have an additional category where you can Buy/Sell or Promote your services or Products, You can use that too for getting more attention.
When you’re not hanging out on the freelance platforms, it means you’re going to alternative strategies which imply here. The publishing platforms help us get the space to express our vision and share the value with the prospects to attract them towards us. It would be perfectly fine to publish relevant content on LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, or WordPress.com on the consistent basis in order to engage the audience and get your word out there.
What to Achieve with publishing?
- Deliver Value: Everything that comes in will be the result of what you give away in the form of value. It’s extremely important to understand that you must have a mindset of a GIVER while publishing content. Because if your content isn’t worthwhile, why would someone be interested in talking to you. It doesn’t matter what type of freelancer you’re, whatever your field is, try to publish content. For instance, Behance provides artists and graphic designers to portray their portfolios in front of the global audience interested in finding latest artwork and graphic content.
- Engage the Audience: The audience engagement does wonders. You may not be aware of the strategy, but brands like Buffer and Buzzsumo love to engage their audience through publishing helpful and useful content on their official blogs. This gives them a chance to convey their brand’s message too alongside other useful and helpful tips.
- Build Email List: Email list building is by far the most effective, long-lasting, and evergreen online marketing strategy. When it comes to building a freelance career and a freelancer’s personal brand, there is no way to ignore the email list building process along the way. Use Mailchimp or Aweber for this.
The community building isn’t as simple as it might look. The irony is that it takes a long span of time and tireless mentally to keep contributing to the bunch of people who take advantage of your knowledge and experience, and hence start hanging out with you. It could be anywhere online or even offline. Start a Meetup group or set up a Disqus channel, no matter what you do, just start doing it, and do it on the permanent basis and you need to be consistent.
If you for a one-second thought that why do you need a community to build your freelance career, then let me tell you the answer. The community building will always help you. It won’t harm you if you put effort and energy into it.
Harbor a community. It will hone your brand.
Rules for Being Successful with Freelancing :
Once you know your skill, freelancing strategy and what to do, the next part is client acquisition. Getting your first order isn’t an easy, remember your profile is your first impression towards your client and if you do it, you will go successful. Remember to checkout my 9 Steps to Creating a Stand-Out Freelancing Profile That Wins Business & Clients.
Once you get your first client, you need to do follow some rules for being successful, getting some good reviews and some recurring clients.
- Larry Page, Co-Founder of Google, Once said; “Always deliver more then expected”. To date, I still remember this and consider it as a first rule of success, in fact this is the easiest way to make your client happy, deliver what he wasn’t expecting. (Over-deliver).
- Freelancing is a business and communication has it’s own importance, which you cannot ignore. Most of the new freelancers do not know, how much important communication is. Try to maintain good relations with your customers and this will pay you in good way.
- Bundling other services is a great idea to gain more orders, when you deliver your first order, always ask your client on if you can help him with other things too, now since client have tested your skills, there are high chances that he will be interested in your other services too, today or later.
- Always respect and Meet your deadlines, remember this is a professional world and no one have time to listen to your excuses, so always think wisely before giving a deadline and once you give it, try to complete your work before the due date to give a good gesture to your client.
- Once your customer is satisfied with what you have delivered to them, ask them for reviews, this is a solid way to build your portfolio which will eventually help you in customer acquisition.
- Time to time, Keep on giving some discount bonuses to your old customers so whenever they need a service in your field, their first preference should always be you.
- Asking your existing clients for Referrals or new customers is a great way to get some new customers. This strategy does not always work but you need to be very carefully about when you are asking your existing clients for referral. Remember, build relations with your client, so that he can build your freelancing business. Some people even give some bonus or discount in their next project for the existing clients for such reference.
Tips to Growing an Online Community
- Choose a specific category: This is pretty much a basic thing to tell to a professional freelancer that choose a specific category to build a community, but it’s important to tell as well. A community is always built on a common cause, so find that cause and start growing your community.
- Set rules and regulations: The rules and regulations will define the limits which will help you manage the community. Make sure no one is allowed to abuse or being racist to any particular group, people, gender, or member. In fact, other problems such as spam posting will also be controlled by setting rules and implementing them as well.
- Invite relevant people: This is pretty common. You should invite like-minded people to join your community wherever it exists. Make sure existing members also bring in new interested people.
- Be consistent: You must be consistent with your engagement and posting in your community. It’s not about posting daily or starting a discussion on the daily basis, it’s about being there on the regular basis and respond to the others’ queries.
Freelancing is a great way to kick start your money-making journey, I Believe the Future is with Freelancing. Most of the people who come across freelancing tend to take it as a part-time money-making gig, for some, this part time activity has turned into a Full time business. Freelancing is not difficult or easy, in fact it’s a life style. You are your own boss, do whatever you like, take projects which you will love to do.(A win-win for both client and you)
Freelancers struggle, learn, and thrive, which is why people across the globe are adopting this field.
You must know the value proposition of your art and how to sell yourself effectively, Once you know it, you’ll be standing in the crowd offering your service without any hesitation.
The question of the day is, what will you offer to kick off your freelance career?[optin-cat id=”282″]