A recent study by the University of Phoenix, polling 1,600 adults under the age of 30, found that 63% of people in their 20’s either own their own business or want to own a business in the near future. Of those who are not already entrepreneurs, 55% of them identified as wanting to be entrepreneurs, one day.
Long before now, you’ve probably heard about freelancing, but you never really considered giving it a shot. Or perhaps you once considered it, but you just didn’t know how to go about it.
If any of this sounds like a story that defines your experience with freelancing, then I’m happy to inform you that you’ve just clicked on the right post. Because in the next few minutes, I’ll be educating you on all things related to freelancing. You will learn how to kickstart a career in it and what you need to become your own boss. But before we do all of that, it is important for you to first understand what the term “freelancing” is really all about.
What is Freelancing?
According to Richie Norton, “When you change how you’re paid, you change your life.” And what better way is there to get paid than to pay yourself? It is upon this knowledge that we define freelancing as a self-employed business where a person (the freelancer) offers services, often working on several jobs for various clients at one time. Freelancers make money on a per-job basis, charging hourly or daily rates for their work.
By and large, a freelancer is a person that works remotely for anyone and everyone across the globe. Emphasis on “anyone and everyone” because with the availability of digital technology, there are virtually no restrictions on the number of clients a freelancer can work with, regardless of where he/she resides.
Now that we’ve defined the term, let’s get to business. How can you start your own freelancing career and become your own boss? The answer to that will be provided to you in the next few tips below. So sit tight, and let’s roll.
Hone New Skills or Brush Up Your Current Skills
A freelancing business is just like every other business. Before you can start, you need to offer something, that is, a skill. What skills have you got? Can you write articles? Design logos? Suggest brand names to business owners? Write program codes for websites? Or become a virtual assistant to any task owner?
The very first step towards becoming a freelancer is identifying the skills you’ve got. Look at your skillsets and ask yourself what it is that you enjoy doing the most and which skill you feel can be best sold to a global community. Focus on this skill.
Once you’ve identified it, the next thing you need to do is brush up or improve your skill. Remember, creating a write-up for your college program is not the same as writing a blog post that will be read by millions of people worldwide.
In order to brush up on any skill you’ve got, you can go online to read about the newest trends and updates on that skill, watch relevant videos on YouTube, and take online courses at Udemy.
However, if you don’t have any marketable skills, you can hone it! Following the same procedure as above, you can learn a skill or two that you can sell online. This will be your freelancing skill, upon which you’ll kickstart your freelancing career.
But before you brush up on any skill or hone a new one, here are the most sought after freelancing skills of 2020. You can take some courses on almost all of them by using platforms like Skillshare, YouTube, and Udemy. Just type in the skill name, and you’ll find relevant courses on those skills. Please bear in mind that some of these courses are free while others require payment.
The popular skills of 2020 include the following:
- Web and Mobile Development
- Virtual Assistant (common VA jobs include Accounting & Bookkeeping, Spreadsheets, Customer Service, Data entry, marketing, internet research, scheduling appointments, making phone calls, cold calls, email correspondence, and other virtual tasks)
- Writing & Editing
- Graphic Design
- Social Media Marketing
- E-commerce (help clients create, manage, and market their online stores on Amazon, Shopify, eBay, Etsy, and so on)
- Web Designer
- Voice Over
Choose a Platform
There are so many freelancing websites out there today, including Fiverr, Upwork, Guru, Craigslist, PeoplePerHour, and so much more. But, of course, the one you join will be determined by the service you want to offer. The big advantage of these platforms is that you don’t run out of opportunities to find clients.
Take Fiverr, for instance. Once you sign up for an account with them, the platform gives you the opportunity to be contacted by any number of potential clients from all over the world. And that’s not even all. If, after a few days of signing up, you don’t get contacted by anyone or you don’t like the offers being proposed to you by some of these potential clients, then you can visit the “Buyer’s Requests” page to submit proposals and bid for jobs. Each day, you have an opportunity to submit as many as 10 bids, so the opportunity is always there to find clients if your bid prices are compelling enough.
Once you’ve worked on your skillset, the next thing you need to do is start building your career by gaining valuable experience and building your network. There are so many freelancing platforms out there, and depending on the skill you have honed, you can choose the best platform to freelance with that skill.
After you sign up with any of these platforms, you’ll be given the opportunity to apply for jobs, get contacted by prospective clients, and begin your freelancing career. If you’re really good at what you do, then you’ll find so many repeat clients, as well as new clients requesting for your gig almost every day.
Cold and Hot Pitches
Chasing a career as a freelancer means that you want to make this a way of life, probably one of your biggest sources of income. If that is the case, then you might not want to stop with freelancing platforms above. In fact, while those freelancing sites will help you gain the necessary experience and make you a few thousand bucks for a while, they cannot always guarantee a long-term career for you.
Once you’ve gained the necessary experience, the next thing to do is to go a bit further and build your network of clients. From the previous clients you’ve worked with in the past (probably from those freelancing websites) and other platforms, create a contact list or an email list and send them hot pitches. A hot pitch is a message sent to someone with whom you already have an existing relationship.
While sending these messages, let them know that you’ve researched the current state of their website, platform, or outlet, and you have an idea on how to help them improve it. Since they’ve worked with you in the past, they will be more willing to trust you once again. The idea here is to become the go-to guy any time they have a freelancing need. Alternatively, you can send your hot pitches to friends, colleagues, and family members. Let them know the services you offer and that you’d like it if they can recommend you to their friends or other colleagues that may need any of your services.
Another type of call is the cold pitch. You can just go online to research some small-scale businesses or companies that you feel might be in need of your services. These could be low-ranking websites, failing businesses, downward sloping outlets, blogs with poor readership levels, poorly designed websites, underperforming apps, and so on. Conduct extensive research of their websites and contact them to let them know how you can be of help to their business. You can check this link on how to create a compelling cold pitch that generates responses.
The whole idea with hot and cold pitching is to build a network of steady clients. Remember, a freelancing business can only be a lasting career if you have people to constantly work with you.
Be a Networker and Not a Loner
Right from the minute when you decide it’s time you want to go freelancing, start to build a network of freelancers. Most especially for those not in your niche, you should start connecting with other freelancers. The idea here is to create a network of colleagues so great that they can always refer clients to you.
Think about it. If you are a content writer and you have a website developer for a friend, he/she can always recommend their clients to you once they’re done designing their websites for them, and vice versa.
Set the Right Pricing for Your Services
OK, now you have clients. How do you set your prices? You don’t want to chase them away with your pricing, neither do you want to undervalue your services. So, what do you do?
There are tons of great tools out there to double-check whether you’re charging enough to afford the lifestyle you want to live. I recommend that you determine your pricing strategy with a very different progression in mind.
“Price yourself based on the value you deliver, not what your competitors are charging.”
A digital marketing consultant, Neil Patel, chronicles many of the lessons he learned while running an SEO freelance business on his blog—even before he learned how to make money blogging in more passive ways. One of his most prominent lessons was that the more you charge, the less clients complain.
Build a High-Quality Portfolio Website
As a starting point, it is important to understand what the purpose of having a portfolio website in the first place. It’s often the first impression a potential client will have of you, your style, your work, and the past clients (or companies) you’ve worked with in your freelance business. You need to effectively communicate the services you offer, and who they’re meant for. Beyond that, you need to sell yourself on why you’re the best person for this type of work – for the clients you want to work with.
Your freelance portfolio needs to do the following in order to be truly effective at selling your services:
- Communicate your specialty & display examples of your work.
- List your contact information & show off your personality.
- Highlight your relevant skills, education, and accomplishments.
- Display testimonials (even if they’re from co-workers or former bosses when you’re just getting started).
- Have regular updates that show your evolution, new clients, and updated sample work.
Create Examples of What You Can Deliver on Your Portfolio Site
With that in mind, one of the best ways to show what you know is by regularly publishing new content, images, or videos (depending upon the content medium you work in) that your target clients will be impressed with. Once you have an understanding of what your clients need, go out and create examples of that exact type of content – as if you had been hired to produce it – for your own website.
“Your portfolio website is a destination to demonstrate your expertise.” – Angel Markel, an SEO expert
There’s no better way to sell your services than to already show your clients that you can create what they need. What’s more is that it’ll make their projects much easier when you have a library of related work to pull from for inspiration.