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How To Become A Freelancer 101: Everything You Need To Know

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The development of information and communication technologies has favored the birth of new professions, including freelance. According to UpWork, approximately 1 in 3 American chose to freelance as their main source of income over a full-time job in 2018. That’s an astonishing 56.7 million people! In fact, this is nearly a 4 million increase in workers since 2014!

More and more individuals are leaning towards freelancing not as a necessity, but rather a balanced choice because of the flexibility that the profession offers. Besides, freelancing opens a wide range of opportunities without the constraints of geography! There are no relocation expenses or no temporary hotel stays.

In this article, discover tips for working as a freelancer, be it a side gig to supplement your current income or whether you’re planning to transition into freelancing completely.

Pros and Cons of Freelancing

Before you go on the hunt of landing your first freelance job, determine if it’s the job for you. There is an overwhelming amount of pros for being a freelancer, but you must also be aware of the cons that are associated with the job to make an educated decision.

Required Freelancing Skills

The profession of freelance, as any other professional job, has its own expectations. Some qualities are necessary to become a freelancer.

  • Self-Starter: You must be motivated to staying independent by taking charge of your work. You must be diligent in securing new work, maintaining consistent client-base, and continuing to build up your skills to be competitive among the other freelancers.  
  • Organization:  To become a freelancer on the internet, you must be organized to meet the needs of your customers. Organizing your tasks and days will allow you to increase your productivity.
  • Strictness:  You must be quite rigorous towards yourself. Rigor is an essential quality for anyone aspiring to become a freelancer. It allows you to define a productivity-friendly work environment even if your office is located at your home or by the sea.
  • Excellence: To become a freelancer, you must also develop your mental strength and be excellent in what you do. To achieve excellence, practice is essential. Similarly, the sense of detail is a quality that you must develop if you want to work freelance. The small details that you value will make your difference in the market. For that, look for and find the little detail that will make all the difference in the interest of the customer.
  • Reliability: Your reputation plays a huge role in the communities where you’re seeking work. The quality of your work is not the only thing potential clients are looking for. They want to make sure you can be dependent on to deliver high-quality work on time.

Before You Begin: Do a Market Analysis

Motivations to become a freelancer may vary from one person to another. However, no matter why you choose to become a freelancer, one of the biggest mistakes is to get started without doing any market research.  Before you begin your market analysis, you must first identify your key areas of strength which you would like to utilize for your freelance work. Familiarize yourself with salary expectations, turnaround time and try to connect with others who are in the position where you want to be. This will be a great networking opportunity to hear and learn more about the profession straight from the horse’s mouth.

Freelance work is an excellent opportunity to realize your dreams of entrepreneurship. But you must have a good understanding of what you’re getting yourself into right from the start. For example, it is important to understand that the remunerated service becomes the exclusive property of the client, except for the amendment to the service contract.

The copyright of your creation will become the sole property of someone else (after the acceptance of work). This is the case for creative roles, such graphic designers, web editors, content creators, etc. You must be aware that you are also bound to a confidentiality clause.

This could be a potential barrier to promoting your services, in that you are not allowed to communicate the identity of your customers or distribute copies of your previous work.

Join a Talent Platform

By choosing to become a freelancer, you will certainly be freer of your choices (time, place, hierarchy). It is important to not overlook the importance of networking. This network will provide you with access to new customers and potential business partners. Indeed, the recruitment of a freelancer is often done through a referral or recommendation.It is also a common practice to become part of a specialized platforms (Upwork, Textbroker, Fiverr etc.). 

To do this, you must register on these platforms, respond to client queries and process customer orders there. Some platforms give you accreditations according to your level of competence and services performed that have met the expectations of customers. 

High accreditation will give you access to better pay and freedom of choice on orders!

To be successful, you should favor medium and long-term collaborations. This strategy allows you to secure a minimum monthly turnover. The rest is generated by one-off works. In order to turn your occasional customers into repeat customers, try to put your best foot forward and go the extra with the initial assignment or maybe extend your occasional service offers to accommodate their unique requests.

3 Must-Complete Steps Before Beginning Work as a Freelancer

Becoming a freelancer is the ambition of many who want to become financially free. Indeed, they may be seduced by the independence offered by this profession. Here are 3 easy steps along the path of becoming a successful freelancer.

Step 1: Become an expert in your area of specialty

It is important that you develop the professional skills necessary for your work. With this in mind, you will have to take stock of your relational and technical capacities. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Take a step back to consider how all these skills might be useful, so that you can bring a specific solution to the market. Also, be prepared to continue you education and training to boost your portfolio and help you stand out among the crowd.

Step 2: Take care of the legal paperwork

Make sure you are “legally” set up to practice as a freelancer before you prospect for your first clients. You can start as a micro-business, or a sole proprietor, depending on your current status. There is pros and cons for each method, but generally one of the biggest downsides of a sole proprietorship is lack of liability protection. Depending on whichever set-up you choose, certain requirements must be met. 

Do your research before you make the decision! Small Business Administration (SBA) is a great resource for information about this.

3) Freelance Work: Creating Your Network

As a freelancer, you will be responsible for soliciting your own clients. This is definitely not easy task to get used to when you’re just starting out as a freelancer. Begin by making recommendations to your relatives first, as they will be your close and supporting network at the beginning. Make sure to provide a satisfying service to each of your clients, this will help to establish your reputation.

To become a successful freelancer, you need to develop your social presence online. This is done in order to be easily found on the internet by someone who would be looking for your specific set of skills. In addition, your social profiles will show your potential customers that you are the right person that is able to solve their problem. 

Here are 3 ideas of how to achieve this:

  • Register on freelance talent platforms: Start with small projects to diversify your benefits and get recommendations.
  • Expand your presence on social networks: Youtube is a tool that gives you the opportunity to      establish your expertise, including through video content. Join forums or groups on Facebook working in the same theme as you. It’s a great way to create connections and grow your network.
  • Create a professional blog: Make sure you publish quality articles with targeted content for your prospects. In fact, Google favors quality content and brings it back to the first page of its search results.

Join These 3 Major Freelance Platforms

Upwork


When choosing the list of the best places to get freelance work, impossible to leave Upwork outside. Upwork combines the strength of two great freelance work platforms: Odesk and Elance that merged into this platform in 2013.With more than 1.5 million clients, Upwork quickly positioned itself as one of the best sites to look for freelance work. Thanks to its growing number of users, it offers a wide variety of jobs for various skills.

Create a profile that will serve as your portfolio and complement it with customer feedback and examples of previous work on the platform. This will allow customers to search for you and instantly recognize if you are a good fit.

As in the other freelance work sites, you can also be proactive and send your proposals to those jobs that interest you.

Freelancer


Freelancer is another of the most popular sites where you can find freelance work. Millions of small businesses publish jobs on this platform in order to grow their businesses.

With more than 10 million published works, Freelancer is one of the fastest growing work sites. They also have a mobile application that keeps you connected with your customers all the time and ensures you never miss an opportunity to connect with them.

Fiverr


Fiverr is another of the most popular freelance sites on the web. Freelance assignment can start as low as $5 (USD) and rise depending on the type of work that you’re willing to accept and your professional level.

Today there are many freelancers who make good money working on this platform, offering even packages of services allowing you to secure return customers and [more or less] consistent work.

There are so many categories to cater to a wide variety of talent and that is one of the reasons why it is considered one of the best freelance work sites today. You can choose to position yourself in advertising, programming, music, writing and translation of texts, business, graphics, design and much more.

Fiverr is also a good place to start your freelance business. You can publish and promote your gigs (this is how they call ads) that suit your particular talents.The price of a gig can vary between $5 and $ 10,000, but as in the other sites. However, you would probably want to start charging on the lower side of the price spectrum to generate customers and attract positive reviews relatively quickly as you gain more experience and credibility in the platform.

Case study: Becoming an IT freelancer

You can become an IT freelancer if you have computer skills. Becoming a freelance computer gives you access to the technical support market on the web. Many successful entrepreneurs feel the need to delegate the technical part of their business to focus on their area of expertise. 

This strategy generally allows them to bring more quality content to their audiences while providing technical support for the information. In addition, if you master programming languages, it will be easier for you to create platforms. Finding customers and meeting their needs is an approach accessible to beginner freelancers. 

However, you must follow certain steps before positioning yourself in the market.

Find your positioning as an IT freelancer

To find your position as a freelancer, start by taking stock of your skills. You will therefore need to prepare some of your achievements that will support your resume. This will give you more credibility. When you start without any professional experience, focus on training. Develop your expertise in high-demand sectors neglected by your peers. And note, you do not need to have high-end hardware to get started as an IT freelancer.

Once you find your clients, you must choose your assignments according to a well-defined statement of work. Make sure that you do not engage in contracts that you will not be able to honor. You need to determine the type of assignment (long or short) that you want to accomplish. 

However, avoid doing very long assignments for the same client as this will prevent you from working on new projects. It is, therefore, necessary to set an average duration according to your own parameters.

How to find customers to live your business

Find your customers yourself or go through the IT service companies and Computer Engineering? You must know that the choice depends on the status of your client. For large structures such as banks, you must imperatively go through an IT services company. In this case, you set your own price, in exchange for a margin of 10-15% recovered by the IT services company. For small businesses and individuals, the process is simplified. You can find an arrangement directly with the customer. 

However, there is an advantage to go through the IT services companies, is that they contact you regularly to put you in touch with new customers.

What’s Freelancing Salary Potential?


With the freelance situation, you can earn a lot more money than with a regular, 9-5 type of job. For example, if you need to create a site for one of your customers if you bill him the $5,000 service, and you realize it in less than 7 days, in a working week you have enough to survive for a full month (if not more)!

If you are a freelancer, there is a very high probability of making more money than with your previous job. 

Some contracts are tens of thousands of Dollars. And if you want to become financially independent, it’s a great way to become financially independent.

One piece of advice before you go to your bosses’ office and drop your resignation letter, make sure you’ve solidly established yourself in the freelance community and are sure to secure assignments.

Importantly – there is no salary limit. In fact, it depends mainly on your motivation and desire to become earn more. If that is your intent, you will need to focus on big customers with significantly sized projects. Be patient and give it time and you will surely get there. Meanwhile, focus your initial money-earning energy by taking care of smaller customers who will help you establish your reputation. If you are diligent and professional in your work, your customers will bring you more business and you will never have to go out and “hunt” for them.

Parting Tips for Your Freelancing Success

Update Your Resume and Freelance Profiles Consistently

To become a freelancer, it is important to update your resume and prepare a client portfolio. Your portfolio must be original in order to capture the prospect’s attention and demonstrate your freelance skills. Also, the work you do must express your level of expertise in the eyes of customers.In addition, it is necessary to create a loyal customer base. For this, each of your services must be of quality. 

Always answer within the agreed time between you and the customer. Likewise, communicate about your new activity with your close entourage. You increase your chances of being asked to perform services. Learn to communicate about your benefits when you have the opportunity.

Keep at it and Don’t Give up!

You will find that becoming an entrepreneur is no easy task. It is easier to earn money with a 9-5 job working on the boss’s instruction, with the fear of being sacked when you fail to meet target. When you’re an entrepreneur, however, no one tells you to get up in the morning, when and how to work. However, working from home as a freelancer requires incredible self-discipline. Such discipline is not difficult to live by once you have made the bold step to kick start with your freelancing career.

Freelancing is not easy and the work does not take care of itself while you sit and twiddle your thumbs. It will require effort, diligence and attention to detail in the beginning – as you’re adopting to the new work style. Efficiency will come with time and you will be able to earn a lot more money by investing less effort.

Put your best foot forward for every assignment that you’re hired to do. You’ll be proud of your work and customer’s feedback will reflect your effort.

The last thing I invite you to do is to avoid spending everything you earn. Your goal is to earn more by working less, so invest your money in things that will provide the highest return on your investment.

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I love hearing from you and as always would love to learn your ideas, perspectives, and comments. You don’t know, what you don’t know and I am all ears to hear about what you have to say. And if you just want to say “hi” – would love to take the opportunity to say “hi” back!

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