Freelancing is big business today. It is one of the fastest growing offshoots of the internet revolution with millions of people across the world now working in the gig economy. Recent reports show there are over 57.3 million people (36% of the US workers) freelancing in the US. 77% of freelancers say they have gained financial stability since quitting their day jobs. From working as a thesis writer, blogger, transcriber, customer support officer, video marketer, designer/illustrator, web designer, tutor, fitness trainer to an SEO specialist, the opportunities in freelancing are unlimited. But the question of many people is how to get started.
While many people have succeeded in freelancing, many beginners struggle and give up altogether. This article explores a few tips to help you start freelancing and succeed at your gigs. Read on.
- Choose Your Area of Expertise
One of the biggest mistakes freelance beginners make is failing to choose the best freelancing career. Just because other people have succeeded in freelance writing doesn’t mean this is the best gig for you. The most successful freelancer advises newbies to choose their area of expertise to succeed.
Freelancing is about selling your unique skills online and controlling your work and if you don’t have any skills, you will have a hard time breaking into this industry. Competition is stiff in this industry and for this reason; you have to bring value to your freelancing career.
Clients will come to you if you are an expert in a specific area and this is the reason to choose a niche you know well. If you have worked in media, for instance, there are multiple writing gigs available. A computer expert can excel as a web developer while a teacher will find tutoring rewarding.
- Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
After studying the freelancing industry and looking at the numbers, it is understandable that you are enthusiastic about getting started. After all, you have seen your friends and colleagues making good money from their freelancing gigs.
Image 1: A freelance writer hard at work
The biggest mistake you can make as a freelancing beginner is to shift jobs with unrealistic expectations. It is important to appreciate the amount of work it takes for a freelancing career to take off. You need to talk to other freelancers and get the true picture of the story. Look for someone you know and ask for an objective opinion of the industry and you will realize that it takes time for a beginner to get a stable standing.
It is advisable to set realistic goals and expectations to avoid disappointment. You can start freelancing part-time to get a feel of the industry and learn the ropes. This way, you will create a client base with time before making the final jump into full-time freelancing. Like with all career, there are downsides to freelancing, and you should come prepared.
- Build a Profile
When starting a freelancing career, no one out there has any idea about you. You have to start by building a profile through which people can learn more about you. This will create a good first impression for your potential clients. A LinkedIn profile is a good start, and you need to include a high-resolution picture with a smile on the main page.
Complete all sections of your profile with factual details about your training and work experience. A good profile should have no grammar or other mistakes because this creates a poor impression. Poor grammar or spelling mistakes are a red flag to potential clients, and they will turn away quickly.
A good profile must show your skills and value proposition. You should make clients realize the value you can add to their projects by hiring you. To create the best profile, research on the keywords to use for your selected freelancing career. Use the same information on other social media platforms for consistency.
- Create working Schedule
One of the main reasons people take up freelancing is to gain financial freedom and control of their lives. As a freelancer, you must realize that your pay comes from the projects you complete and this calls for a re-organization of your life. Whether you are doing this part time or full time, you need a work schedule to help you complete orders on time.
Most freelance newbies take on too much work only to fail their clients and create a poor first impression. A work schedule helps you identify the available time in your day, and this helps you take up work you can complete. You shouldn’t overburden yourself as this will affect the quality of your work which is counterproductive. Your work schedule will also include all pending orders and deadlines.
- Set Your Hourly Rate, Prices, and Contract Packages
Before you get started, research on the pay rates for freelancers in your field. There are multiple forums for freelancers, and you can use them to find estimate hourly rates, prices and different packages you can offer.
Most freelancing newbies have no idea about the rates and packages they can offer, and this exposes them to exploitation by clients. If a client realizes you have no idea about the pricing, they will manipulate you during negotiations.
You should have an idea about the type of contracts you can offer different clients, standards rates and everything else about pricing. Clients expect you to include the hourly rates and other fees in the contract and for this reason, you must do your homework.
Other crucial things to do when starting as a freelancer include sharing and advertising your services widely, blogging about your work, working with a goal in mind, identifying target clients, studying trends in your industry, delivering quality every time, consistency in your projects among other things. You need to understand the pressures of freelancing, ups, and downs and prepare for slow times in the industry. If you are good at writing, you can apply your skills as an academic writer and help students grappling with a thesis rush to complete their papers.