We are all tired of 9 to 5 jobs; having to sit somewhere and work hard only to get paid minimum wage isn’t part of the dream life. Not only are you barely able to pay your bills, but you are also putting your mental health at risk, by constantly stressing about being late and not getting enough sleep. Well, there is no need for you to suffer this much, because we live in times where each individual can make a living by showcasing their skills and talents through, you guessed it, the internet. You will need some guidance, so keep reading!
There are many freelancers out there that will share their story about how they worked like everyone else did, but then decided to work for themselves as a freelancer. Many of them started teaching their methods to those seeking to work like them; they provided articles, videos and even online classes. By doing so, they’ve made things easier for all those aspiring freelancers out there, what a time to be alive!
So, you might be asking yourself, “how do I start? Isn’t it risky?” and many other questions, in that case you will have your answers by the end of this article.
Here are 10 steps you need to take in order to become a freelancer:
1. Find out what you are good at
You need to find your skill, the most promising one.Is it writing? Editing? Cooking? Whatever it is, there is a market for it on the internet. Take a piece of paper and write down the skills you have or are passionate about. And if you don’t have a one, write the skill you are interested in and are willing to learn more about it. Don’t worry about wanting to change your skill in the future, you can change your area of work once or twice, it is completely normal (although constantly changing it will confuse your clients and yourself).
2. Seek training, learn more about the skill
If you think your skill may not sell or that you don’t have enough knowledge to create pieces of work on your portfolio, you’ll need training. I personally recommend online training because it is more convenient, especially if it’s YouTube. Even if you think you know everything about your chosen skill, it is still a good idea to do some research and figure what the do’s and don’ts are in that market; you don’t want to fall right after learning to stand up. So, take your time and learn the methods and listen to freelancer stories to better understand what you need to do.
3. Have a good schedule
Timing is very important when it comes to online jobs, you want to have a routine just like you would in a office job. That way you can make sure you get the work done. So, choose a certain hour everyday to either create posts on your chosen platform or brainstorm ideas for the coming days. Mornings have proved to be the best time for work, because you are more energized. When starting out, you need to be organized in order to not confuse or frustrate yourself, by following your schedule everyday, you will turn it into a routine.
4. Use a platform to create your first portfolio
Whether you choose photography, writing, painting or any other skill, you need to have a portfolio ready, so that your clients can see your quality of work. Using a platform to make your first portfolio is a way to slowly bring yourself in to that market. Remember that your goal isn’t to get a lot of attention on that platform, you are just trying to put your work somewhere so others can refer to it when you cold-email them. You can use platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, and many others. Fill your portfolio with many posts, you would want at least 10 posts, but the more the better.
5. Create your professional contacts
How will your client reach out to you? Giving clients your personal contact is obviously not a good idea, you need to have work-only contacts in order to be professional and safe from potential hackers. Your contact list should have a phone number, an email, and social media accounts. In this stage you should also have your business name, so you can put on your email and social media accounts; the name could be your name or something smart and related to your area of work, be creative! Be sure to use these contact ONLY for your work.
6. Keep a journal
It’s a smart thing to keep a journal and record the ups and downs you face while trying to start your own business as a freelancer. Not only will it be helpful to read the entries as you go along, it will also be great content for some websites. You will need to keep track of your steps in order to make the right decisions in the future and learn from your mistakes. You can also share your journal with others who are trying to be freelancers.
Okay! You have a portfolio, professional contacts and the right amount skills necessary to start getting commissions. Now, you need to start cold-emailing websites and companies to get commissions. Keep it mind that there is always a chance that you will get ignored or rejected, but it shouldn’t stop you from cold-emailing. In these emails, you need to get straight to the point, and tell them how you can help make their website better, interest them into reading all of your email and not ignoring it after the first sentence. A good headline would be “______ freelancer interested in ______”. If asked, you would need to set a rate for your work, in that case you need to do some research to find the average rate of a ___ freelancer, then you can adjust it to the quality of your service. Be patient with this step! It will take time, but it is worth it.
8. You got commissions, now create your website
So you were able to get some commissions from the websites you cold-emailed to, now you need to put those commissions into your own platform; your website. By some commissions, I mean at least 10 commissions; you don’t want an empty website. WordPress is the obvious choice, but there are others as well (you could use a YouTube tutorial to make your website). After creating and designing your clean and professional website, you need pages that will look pleasing to your clients. Besides a welcoming Home Page, you will need the following pages in your website:
- Hire Me Page: A page for clients to refer to once they’ve decided to work with you; it should include your contacts.
- My Portfolio: Should include the work you did for the websites you cold-emailed to, and the posts you published on other platforms.
- Services Page: In what ways can you help a client? What are you skills? Be sure to be specific about it and only write of your main services.
- About Me Page: Tell your client a little about yourself, allow them to know you and your ambitions, many clients prefer to work with people that are honest and welcoming.
9. Don’t waste your time and money on advertisement
A lot of people tend to waste their money on unnecessary advertisements. They think that right after making a website, everyone should know about it. But in reality, you would be wasting your time and money. Why rush things? Clients will have to find you through an email or a recommendation, not through a Facebook Ad. It would surely bring more attention to your website, but not from the right people. So, be patient and allow your website to be found by proper clients and viewers.
10. Do not hesitate
When we first begin commissions, we might feel that what we do isn’t good enough for clients and that they might not accept it. This hesitation and fear will eventually cause you to lose good opportunities; you need to be confident in what you do and show that you are, through the way you express yourself in your work. Nobody wants to work with someone that has no confidence and is showing that through their work. Stop being afraid and just go for it!
If you want to earn a living as a freelancer, you need to be committed. You should also keep in mind that if you aren’t getting the right results or commissions, there is something you are doing wrong; retrace your steps and see where you went wrong. If your work was rejected, pick yourself up and try harder, or find the right client for your work.
Of course, this way of work isn’t risk-free, just like any other work there is out there. The amount of risk you take depends on your decisions and actions. So don’t think that just because it is an online job, there won’t be any risk. But on the plus side, all you need for this job is creativity and a laptop!