I’ve been working online as a freelance writer for over 10 years.
It’s not always sunshine and rainbows but I would never trade this remote-working life for a 9-to-5 job.
It’s not too late for you to start freelancing. In this guide, I’ll give you the exact steps you should follow to get started right now.
Whether you want to start freelancing as a writer, web designer, or developer, this guide will help you start your journey in 10 simple steps.
Let’s dive in.
Note: This guide will help you get started as a freelancer the right way. If you want to take it to the next level and learn some of my secrets of earning $5,000 a month, you can grab my book Freelance Like A Pro.
Step 1: Find A Marketable Skill
The next, and most important, step is to find a skill you can offer as a service.
This can be something as simple as transcribing a podcast or something advanced like developing a mobile app.
Whatever it is, the key to winning in freelancing is to find a skill that you’re good at and has enough demand in the marketplace.
For example, if you’re good at drawing illustrations or designing product packaging, go to a freelance marketplace like UpWork or Freelancer and check to see if there are jobs for that type of work.
If there are enough job listings on those sites for the skill you’re good at, then you’ve hit gold. That’s what makes a skill marketable.
The key is to find a niche skill that’s not too broad or too niche.
For example, graphic design is a very broad category. There are millions of freelancers offering services in this niche. There’s too much competition.
Instead, you can find a niche like product packaging design or lettering logo design.
If you can’t figure out a skill, try this list of 100+ freelance job ideas.
Step 2: Polish Up Your Skills
Once you find a marketable skill, you should make sure you can offer it as a service. Simply put, you need to be really good at that skill to be able to get paid for it.
For example, let’s say you want to be a freelance writer for health and wellness blogs. This category has good demand. You also have experience writing about it in school or college.
However, that doesn’t mean you can write blog posts for online audiences. Blogs and online publications use very different writing styles and formatting for articles. Mainly to attract general audiences.
So you need to learn how to write blog posts for online audiences. Learn how to use WordPress. How to make graphics for articles, etc.
It’s the same for every other freelancing skill out there. You can’t just jump right in without even trying to learn the basics. You must polish up your skills first.
Read books, subscribe to YouTube channels, and blogs related to your skill and industry.
Also, taking online courses is the most effective way to properly learn and polish up a skill.
Learning a skill from scratch takes time. So be patient and keep learning and practicing. It could take weeks, months, or years. Just keep at it.
I recommend getting a subscription to an online learning platform like Skillshare. Cancel your Netflix subscription or save your coffee money if you have to. When you have access to a learning platform, it’s much easier to try and learn new skills.
Step 3: Build Your Reputation
It doesn’t matter if you have a college degree or years of experience. If you can’t prove to clients that you’re skilled at what you do, they will never hire you.
If you’re a writer, you should have articles published on popular blogs.
If you’re a graphic designer, you should be able to point to a brand and say you designed their logo.
If you’re a web designer, you need to be able to send a link to a website you’ve designed.
Do some free work at first if you have to. Reach out to blogs that accept guest posts and get a few articles published. Do some concept design work. Whatever it is, work on building your reputation.
Personal branding is also part of building your reputation. Having a professional presence on social media is also important.
Step 4: Create A Portfolio
A portfolio can be a website or a webpage where you showcase all your work.
For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you can create a portfolio page on a site like Behance or Dribbble to show off all your best designs.
If you’re a writer, you can create a site on WordPress or Medium to share your articles.
Web designers can build a website and share it on Awwwards.
Developers can contribute to projects on GitHub.
That way, when you’re reaching out to a client, you can simply give them the link to your portfolio to check out your skills.
This is how you prove to clients that you are skilled at what you do.
Step 5: Try Freelancing Part-Time
Once you figure out the first steps and have a portfolio up and running, you can start contacting clients.
But, don’t make any rash decisions like quitting your job right away. At least not yet.
First, you should do a trial run to see how it’ll turn out. The best way to do that is to try freelancing part-time.
You can find small freelance gigs and projects to do in your free time.
Freelancing involves a lot of work. You need to find clients, balance multiple projects, handle payments, balance taxes, and much more. So it may not be for everyone. By doing part-time work, you can see if you’re up for it.
When you feel ready to tackle bigger projects, then you can decide whether you should freelance full-time or leave your day job.
Step 6: Find The Right Freelance Platform
This step plays a crucial part in how easily you’ll land jobs and the quality of the clients you’ll be able to work with.
A mistake most beginning freelancers make is that they search for the most popular freelance marketplace and join the first one they find to get started.
Most popular choices are sites like UpWork or Freelancer.com. But these are also the worst platforms to join.
Since they are so popular, there are millions of freelancers competing for jobs on these platforms. They engage in bidding wars to win jobs.
And they will constantly lower their prices in order to land the job. You will find yourself in a losing battle of who can get paid the lowest amount.
So the best approach, and the approach that worked wonders for me, is to pick a marketplace that’s fairly new and join it.
These low-competition freelancing sites have fewer freelancers so you’ll be able to land your first few jobs quite easily.
Step 7: Charge The Right Price
Figuring out the right price for your services can be challenging. Because if you ask for the wrong price, clients will never even consider hiring you.
In the beginning, the best way to figure out the right price is to go look at popular freelance marketplaces and see what other freelancers in your niche or industry are charging.
Since you’re new, it’s not fair to charge the same prices as experienced freelancers.
Instead, you should try to figure out a middle-ground where you can offer a competitive price than those experienced freelancers without making yourself seem cheap.
Offering a small discount also helps. So make sure to add a few extra dollars to your price just so you can remove it as a discount for the clients.
Step 8: Communication Is Key
The way you talk to your clients and communicate in emails and chats is much more important than anything else.
When you communicate via text-based mediums, you should always keep in mind that the way you word sentences could be seen differently by someone else.
For example, many freelancers make the mistake of writing professional emails the same way they write text messages to friends. They use phrases like “bro”, “dude”, and “cool”.
This is a surefire way to get rejected by clients.
When writing your emails and proposals, always remember to write with respect and professionalism.
Of course, you should not go as far as to address them as “dear sir” or “madam”. Just address them by name and be respectful. And they will respect you back.
Step 9: Send Your First Proposal
Writing a proposal to a client needs to be done in a careful manner.
On sites like Upwork, you now need to write cover letters detailing how you plan on handling the project. This is an important step to convincing the clients to hire you.
It’s not like writing a regular email or writing a social media post. You need to put serious thought into it and figure out how to persuade your client to give you the job instead of all the other freelancers.
There are some tips and hacks you can use to your advantage when writing a winning proposal. I can’t go into all the details here, so please check out the links below for more info on the topic.
You can also use online tools and PowerPoint presentations to create more engaging proposals when applying for big projects. They will surely make your proposals stand out from the crowd.
Step 10: Deliver Beyond Expectations
Once you land a job, the next step is to make sure that you deliver the project just as the client has asked.
Or, in this case, I want you to deliver the job beyond the client’s expectations.
I’ll give you an example. In the early days of my freelancing career, I used to get jobs to write blog articles with a fixed word count of 1000 words. What I did was write the article to be about 1100-1200 and also include a unique header image for the blog post when delivering it. Without charging extra for it.
The clients were always happy with my work. And gave 5-star ratings.
Find a way to do work that goes beyond expectations. And learn to stand out from the crowd. That’s the only way to build a lasting career as a freelancer.
You are now ready to tackle the world of freelancing. With a lot of dedication and hard work, you’ll be able to create a profitable and prosperous career as a freelancer. That’s a guarantee.
If you want to learn more about freelancing and insights into some of the blueprints that I use to land high-paying clients, please check out my book Freelance Like A Pro.
Here’s what you get from this book.
- Fully Illustrated eBook
- 21 Lessons + 5 Secrets To Freelance Success
- 5 Email Templates For Contacting Clients
- Freelance Contract Template
- A List Of 70+ Freelance Websites
- A List Of 10+ Online Learning Websites
Best Online Learning Platform For Freelancers
Learning a new skill takes time but there’s no better time to get started than right now!
Today, you can learn anything online. I actually learned to write, design, and build websites by just watching online courses.
You can use YouTube to learn anything. However, I highly recommend that you invest in a good online learning platform to learn your first set of skills.
Skillshare is arguably the best platform you can use to learn new skills. It offers thousands of classes on various topics. And you can access them all for a single price when you subscribe.
I’ve used it to learn a new skill every month for an entire year. And I’m renewing it to learn more the next year.
Use this link to signup for Skillshare and you’ll get the first month for free!
FAQs About Freelancing
These frequently asked questions about freelancing will help you further understand how the industry works.
Q: Is Freelancing A Career?
Yes! Freelancing can be considered as a career. But, it depends on what kind of work you choose to do. For example, if you’re doing data entry work, it can’t be considered a career. At least not a good one. However, if you were to choose something like copywriting, you can use it as a career to become a marketer and even be in charge of marketing teams on startups.
Q: How Do I Find Clients As A Freelancer?
Finding clients as a freelancer involves a combination of strategies. Start by optimizing your online presence with a professional website and social media profiles. Utilize freelancing platforms, job boards, and professional networks to search for opportunities. Consistently market your services, showcase your portfolio, and maintain a strong online presence to attract clients.
Q: How Should I Set My Freelance Rates?
Setting freelance rates requires considering factors such as your experience, skills, market demand, and the value you provide to clients. Research industry standards and competitive rates for similar services. Calculate your expenses, desired income, and the time required for each project. Consider the complexity and scope of the work, as well as the client’s budget. Adjust your rates over time as you gain more experience and build a strong reputation.
Q: Do I Need To Create Contracts For Freelance Projects?
Contracts help prevent misunderstandings, establish professional boundaries, and provide legal recourse if conflicts arise. Having a contract in place sets a professional tone, builds trust with clients, and ensures a smoother freelance experience. However, they are not required for every project. In most cases, your email conversations alone are enough to be used as a contract.
Q: Which Field Is Best In Freelancing?
There are many fields in freelancing that allow you to earn higher rates and generate profitable incomes. But, there is no specific industry or a job that you can call “the best”. You shouldn’t choose a career because it earns the highest amount of money. Choose the ones that you’re good at.
Q: What Kind Of Freelance Work Can I Do?
The freelancing market is quite big. There are hundreds of specializations out there ranging from logo designers to product copywriters, and more. You can do any type of work. If you have a skillset, you can turn it into a service and offer it for a price. Whether it’s online or offline. That’s freelancing!
Q: How Can I Start Freelance With No Experience?
The great thing about freelancing is that it doesn’t have any requirements. You don’t need a fancy college degree or years of experience on a job to get started as a freelancer. All you need is a marketable skill and dedication to work harder and better than everyone else.
Q: What Are Freelancing Websites?
Freelancing websites are like marketplaces where you can find clients and land jobs. You can join a freelancing website, like UpWork or PeoplePerHour, to create a profile and apply for jobs posted by clients. These sites often have a lot of competition and charge high platform fees. While they are good for beginners I often encourage freelancers to avoid such marketplaces.
Q: Which Skills Are In Demand For Freelancing?
Finding the right skill with a good demand is crucial to finding freelancing success. Every year, new trends take over the world of freelancing so the demand for the skills differs from time to time. Some years there’s a high demand for coding skills while some years there’s a demand for video editors. You can read this article to learn more about finding skills with high demand.
Q: Is Freelancing Better Than A Job?
Much like any other day job, freelancing also has benefits and downsides. It definitely has many perks compared to the usual office job. So yes, freelancing can be better than a regular job. But that will mostly depend on your personality type.
Q: What Are The Pros And Cons Of Freelancing?
One of the best things about being a freelancer is that you can be your own boss. It’s like running a business. You can look for clients, find work, and do work at your own pace. But it can also be quite tiring. Especially if you’re used to doing things that you’re told to do. Like at an office job. More about it here.
Q: Do Freelancers Get Paid?
Yes! Unless you get scammed by a scam artist. Freelancers always get paid. There’s a myth to this topic that clients don’t pay or avoid payment on time. But it’s not true. If you know how to find good clients, you’ll always get paid on time.
Q: How Do Freelancers Find Work?
Freelancers can find work using various methods. And you’ll be happy to know that you don’t always have to use marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer.com. Instead, you can use job boards, communities, and even email outreach to find jobs. I covered more on this topic in a section above.
Q: Why Freelancing Is Hard?
Freelancing is not easy. You need to work hard and be determined to succeed as a freelancer. More importantly, it takes time to gain experience and develop skills. A good way to make this process easier is to find a coach and improve your skills by taking courses and reading books.
Q: Where To Learn Freelancing?
Unfortunately, there’s no special place you can go to learn freelancing. It’s something you must learn by doing. Taking online courses and reading books will help, but in the end, it will depend on your dedication and the ability to learn from your failures to be a great freelancer.
Q: What Are Easy Freelance Jobs?
Data entry gigs, transcription jobs, and translation jobs are all easy gigs you can do as a freelancer. But, keep in mind that “easy come, easy go”. Those easy jobs won’t last long. If you want to build a career as a freelancer, you’ll need to work hard at improving your skills.
Q: What Is Local Freelancing?
You don’t always have to sign up for a freelance marketplace online to find work as a freelancer. You can also do work for local businesses. Whether it’s designing a website for a local shop or designing a logo, it still counts as freelancing. There are many job boards you can use to find local freelance jobs. Or you can go old-school and cold-call to ask for jobs.
Q: How To Freelance On Fiverr?
Fiverr is one of the most popular freelance marketplaces in the world. There are millions of freelancers on Fiverr who offer different types of services as gigs at prices starting at $5. It’s very easy to get started on Fiverr but since the platform is highly saturated it’s very different to get orders from clients. I often advise freelancers to avoid such platforms.
Q: How To Freelance Write For Money?
There are many ways you can earn money as a freelance writer. You can write for online blogs, and magazines, write essays, white papers, and more. It’s up to you to find a niche that you’re good at and offer your services. Check out job boards like Problogger Jobs to find great writing jobs.