- 1) Determine your skills
- 2) Determine the jobs that you are willing to undertake
- 3) Figure out your rates
- 4) Search for potential clients
- 5) Utilize social media platforms
- 6) Build your portfolio
- 7) Always stay motivated
- 8) Keep organized
- 9) Create good relationships with clients
- 10) Take opportunities to learn new skills
- 11) Stay up to date
There are many reasons why people want to go into freelancing. One reason is that they want to augment their income with a (hopefully!) more lucrative sideline. Some are unhappy with the learning opportunities or feel that their skills are under-utilized at work, so they decide to go into freelancing to learn new or further develop existing skills and gain more experience. Others want the freedom that freelancing offers, meaning not having to endure a rigid 24/7 work schedule and workplace politics.
However, freelancing comes with its own unique challenges. For one you need to possess certain skills, especially good time management and self-starting skills, in order to become a freelancer. Secondly, developing a client base takes time, patience, and being able to offer services that are a cut above literally thousands of competitors. Thirdly, unlike regular jobs, freelancing will not give you benefits, like health care, etc.
If you are still deciding upon pursuing a career as a freelancer, here’s a handy guide on how to start freelancing from home today.
1) Determine your skills
A lot of articles advise that you should figure out your skills or what you’re good at. Perhaps you’re good at writing. Or maybe you have some knowledge of coding and programming when you tinker with your personal website. You may also have acquired some knowledge about social media and SEO when you started your LinkedIn or Facebook pages. Maybe you have coordinated group projects or tasks as an admin.
Make it a point to list down all these skills. Doing so will help you to determine the specific clients you would like to target.
2) Determine the jobs that you are willing to undertake
It is a common mistake for newbie freelancers to accept initial jobs without realizing that they are not suited for it. For example, there is the common misconception that writers can write anything. But, not all writers have the experience of doing technical or academic writing. While some writers may be good at writing blog or social media content, they may have difficulties in writing scientific, medical, and similar papers in highly specialized fields.
As a newbie freelancer, you should determine the jobs that you have more experience at. As you gain more experience, you can gradually expand to more difficult tasks. You can do this by taking on short term jobs, such as contract or project jobs. These jobs can help you to develop new skills and gain further experience which might help you to land clients who would want to hire you on a full time basis.
3) Figure out your rates
When determining how much you should charge your clients, a common advice that is being given is that you should charge according to your level of skills. The problem with this advice is that, as a newbie, the clients do not know you and what you can deliver.
Consider checking out how much your competitors are charging their clients. Yes, it is true that you might have to charge at lower rates at first, but you can make up for this by accepting more jobs. As you build your client base and portfolio, you can gradually increase your rates.
4) Search for potential clients
You can begin your search for potential clients with people close to you, such as relatives and friends, or even colleagues at work (if you are going to freelance as a side job). They can refer you to people who need the type of services you have to offer.
Your search for potential clients may also bring you to freelancing platforms, such as Upwork, Freelancer, Guru, and PeoplePerHour. Before you even sign up to these platforms, make it a point to learn more about these platforms first. Many freelancers (and clients!) have been turned off by these sites because of the large fees that are being deducted. This is particularly bad if a freelancer is a newbie or does not make much to begin with.
If you are sticking with a freelancing platform, you can start applying for jobs. You will receive notifications if clients want to hire you. As soon as you receive a notice, you need to start work immediately and meet the deadline. Also, be wary of clients who would use you as a “task mill”, meaning that they would assign you to do unreasonable amounts of work at a low price. For example, writers often encounter clients who demand that they do 100 or more articles per week at a cost of $1-$2 per article.
5) Utilize social media platforms
Many freelancers post about their services on sites like Craigslist, but the high competition on the site may lead to underhanded competitors reporting your ads ultimately resulting in their deletion.
Instead, you can post about your services on social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can establish your expertise by writing articles about your niche. If you are good with a camera, you can post videos or create videos of you at work, so that your clients will know what you have to offer.
6) Build your portfolio
As you build your client base, you should also build and show off your portfolio. LinkedIn and Upwork are great platforms in which to update your resume and present the projects that you have accomplished. Make it a point to post links to the sites or blogs where you have created great designs or written informative articles.
An important part of your portfolio is testimonials. If you have clients who are very pleased with the work that you have done for them, you can request them to write a glowing testimonial or review of your services. The important thing is to prove that your services have value to potential clients and attract them to you.
7) Always stay motivated
Every freelancer experiences periods of “job drought”, wherein it seems very difficult to get assignments or clients disappear off the face of the work. It is important that you continue to stay motivated during these times and not give up. If your usual platform where you get jobs doesn’t work now, you can try others. Make it a point to stay connected with your usual comments by sending them emails about your availability that you are always ready to do work for them.
8) Keep organized
While there are periods of “job drought”, you may experience times when you have a work deluge. This usually happens when you take on more work than usual. During these times, it is important to stay organized. Ask clients about deadlines. This way, you can determine which tasks need to be prioritized. Never multitask as this will affect the quality of your work. Instead, schedule each job by priority and finish them one at a time.
9) Create good relationships with clients
It is important to maintain good relationships with clients as this may lead to full time or a steady stream of work. Always maintain high-quality work and deliver them on time. Establish good communication with your client by sending updates about the work assigned to you and asking questions when there are aspects of the job that are not clear to you. Take the initiative in accepting more challenging work as this will show your client about your willingness to learn new skills and increase your work value.
10) Take opportunities to learn new skills
Don’t allow yourself to stagnate just doing the same job over and over again. Instead, seize any opportunities to learn new skills. For example, if you have been writing content for your client, consider learning about SEO so that you can do the research on the right keywords to use for every article you write to make them searchable on search engines like Google. If you are a bookkeeper, learn how to use other accounting software recommended by your clients as well as security applications to help protect confidential data.
11) Stay up to date
You need to keep up with the trends in your chosen niche. Make it a point to update your skills by attending webinars or taking online courses. If there are conferences related to your industry that are held in your area, attend these cons so that you can meet with industry leaders and learn from them.
Let these tips help you in starting your new job as a freelancer at home today and beyond!