Everybody is asking nowadays same question. What is freelancing and how to become a freelancer? We heard you and here to answer all of your questions related to the topic. Freelancing is a career where you can work from anywhere for one client or many at the same time.
The international job market is changing – the old employer-employee relationship has been substituted for contractual or freelance agreements. In fact, 20% of jobs in America are held by contractual workers.
The younger generation of employees still struggling in their 9-5 jobs have aspirations to start their own business one day, but they’re scared to take a leap of faith. They’re afraid that they’re not going to earn as much from their new business, losing any job security they managed to accumulate in their current 9-5 job.
In other words, they cannot live without the security of a 9-5 job. Those doing freelance work know that they’d not have it any other way than to be their own boss – the owner, director, and financial manager of their business.
This is because they’ve usually developed a different mindset compared to those who work an ordinary job. They’ve learnt through experience that freelancing as a career can more profitable and more secure than being employed at a regular desk job for a company. But what is freelancing?
What is Freelancing and Who’s A Freelancer?
Freelancers offer their independent services to companies or other individuals on a contractual basis for a fee. Instead of being recruited into a company and working from the office, you can work with many different clients simultaneously, using your skills, education and experience.
What Freelancing Involves
There are a few things you should know when answering providing these services without committing to a single employer – taking on different assignments for different clients. The options are limitless, as you can take on as many different jobs as you want, given that you can deliver the needful on time for each of your clients. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to prolong the working relationships with certain clients, with ongoing contracts.
When you’re answering the question, what is freelancing, you should know that it’s a quick and affordable way for you to start earning from home. You’re cashing in on exiting skill-sets while developing new skills in your free time. Freelancers are self-employed, mostly working from home, using an internet connection, corresponding with clients via email or phone (similar to telecommuting).
What Freelancing Doesn’t Always Mean
While freelancing jobs (gigs) usually involve jobs where you have the flexibility to work from home, it’s not quite the same as a work-from-home job.
- You don’t always get to work from home – some gigs may involve going to your client’s office, depending on your client’s requirements and the kind of work you chose to do freelance
- Work-from home jobs include a contract with a single employer where you are given a salary for your services provided to just that employer.
The reason many people confuse freelancing with work-from-home jobs is that many freelancing gigs involve sending work via the internet. That is, they don’t require physical presence at the client’s office, and all correspondence is done via phone or email.
A Fair Warning For Freelancers Just Starting Out
When you’re pondering over what is freelancing you must realize it won’t come easy. Freelancing involves hard, sometimes smart work on your part – work might be slow at first and you won’t get paid as much in the beginning, a major reason being that no one knows who you are.
To get recognized in the freelancing world, first you need to create a portfolio of your work with clients and get testimonials from them, showing potential clients how capable you are. This can take some time – from a few months to even a year – which means you need to be as patient and as organized as you can.
It’s Like Starting Your Own Business
It’s like starting you own business, and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you have a 9-5 job that you’re more than happy with, don’t quit cold turkey. Taking on freelancing as a side hustle isn’t free from commitment, it comes with its own set of responsibilities requiring your time and dedication.
If you’re prepared to develop a resilient mindset, communicate well, and consistently manage your time and resources, opt for freelancing. If you’re consistent and patient with freelancing, one thing is for certain – the payoff will be massive. In fact, according to ZipRecruiter, in 2019, the average freelance writer took home an annual salary of $63,488, while the average hourly rate for freelance writers was $31/hour.
It’s important to highlight here that freelancing does give you greater independence over your job, among other benefits. That said, it does take time to build your freelance reputation and income. That said, work may be irregular so you may have a lot of projects coming in or none at all, making income unstable, at times.
Additionally, new freelancers are not paid as much as established ones so there’s that. When you do start getting many clients at once, it’s crucial to be spot on with your communication, time and resource management.
The next section details what people find most appealing about freelance careers.
The Appeal Of Freelancing As A Career
There are a number of reasons why people find freelancing as a career to be lucrative and fulfilling. They have the freedom and flexibility to work from home, free from the confines of the office and ensuing politics. There’s greater control in making decisions about the clients you want to work with, plus you’re on your own time.
You don’t need to work overtime and not get paid for it and given that you’re patient and consistent, you can grow your income and build a reputation for yourself. Working for yourself gives you greater confidence to perform and learn, dealing directly with clients, motivated by the potential for growth. Many freelancers also find the confidence to form their own companies to provide their own services with a group of like-minded individuals working for them.
You’re Quick With Decision-Making
When working a 9-5, you’re usually confined by the decisions of your managers and supervisors, who are in turn confined by theirs and so on, until the C-suite. This slows down decision making to a large extent.
Business research, growth and advancement opportunities are lost to extensive discussions between business stakeholders in board rooms of large organizations. Quick decision-making comes from freelancers, because they’re not afraid to give their input in projects. If they see an opportunity for growth in their client’s project, they confer with their teammates and reach for the opportunity.
Experienced entrepreneurs and freelancers have an appetite for risk and have seen the consequences of things not turning out the way they expected. But they don’t have regrets not speaking up and going for their decisions at the right time.
They take every missed or failed opportunity as an experience, learning from their mistakes. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t – they leave it at that and move on in search of new opportunities.
Earning Money Doing What They Love And Diversifying Skillsets
Not only do you earn money by freelancing, but you’re highly motivated to learn and acquire new skills that will help you take on more projects. People working 9-5 jobs have a very limited scope of work – and if they don’t enjoy what they’re doing, it can cause them to physically burn out.
Freelancing provides these individuals with a way to pursue their interests while earning money. Freelancers are physically and, at times, emotionally invested in their work because they love what they do.
For instance, if someone has a love for social media or digital marketing, content writing, HR, finance or web/graphic designing, doing freelance work in these fields instead of a 9-5 will allow them to fulfill their passions by pursuing their fields of interest on their own terms, not others.
Freelancers earn money by freelancing but they also keep themselves updated with the necessary skills required in their industry and read up on what’s trending in their industry to add value to their communication with clients. It’s challenging, but fun at the same time.
Keep Learning to Keep Earning
Freelancers can also diversify their field by acquiring new skills from online platforms, learning at their own pace. For instance, if a freelance content writer also enjoys making music, they can expand their service offering by learning music production and guitar classes online while completing their content writing projects.
To expand their content marketing horizons, they can take social media and digital marketing courses online, learning about SEO, digital marketing best practices, and how to gather a following on different platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
There’s another very interesting reason why freelancers can afford to do this.
Freelancers Have Time
If you ask anyone in the 9-5 daily grind, they’ll almost always say they’re busy. While it’s not much different for freelancers when they take on a lot of projects at the same time, they still do have time to learn new skills and put their projects on hold.
Time is an invaluable asset that freelancers have, especially when a lot of projects are not coming in. Instead of wasting their time scrolling through social media or watching TV, freelancers have the freedom and time to pursue their hobbies, catch up with family, brush up and build on their new skills, read self-help books, take a vacation and more, thanks to the freedom and time they have.
Since many freelancers don’t even take up projects based on contracts, they also have the option to back out of a project if they feel like their input isn’t being valued or if they find something that pays better or is more fulfilling.
Learn What’s Useful, From Home
Since many freelancing gigs require you to work remotely, you can work from home without going physically to an office. You can stay at home, tend to the garden, create a relaxed atmosphere to work, and still earn money through freelancing to provide for your family.
That doesn’t mean it’s free from hard and smart work, you still have deadlines, project deliverables, briefs and guidelines to follow and more.
Since you’re working with a number of clients from different fields, you can also learn the skills necessary to diversify into other fields for instance digital marketing, web or graphic design.
How To Become A Freelancer?
Whether it’s to earn money by freelancing on the side or choosing it as a full-time career, you must be prepared. Here are the steps for getting started with becoming a freelancer.
Step 1 Is It For You
As mentioned earlier, freelancing isn’t free of pros and cons – you need to have the mindset of being your own boss by being disciplined and very organized. There are no paid leaves when you work for yourself on a schedule.
You need to manage different projects simultaneously while maintaining your work routine. If you’re working already, don’t quit until you develop a client base to sustain your freelancing career in the long run. Steady work and safe income is necessary developing and scaling up your freelance business.
Step 2 Decide On A Platform
You need to choose a platform like Upwork, Toptal, 99designs, hiremotely or Fiverr, where there are a lot of potential clients looking for quality work. Set up a profile for freelance work on these platforms in addition to LinkedIn and social media – combining these sources increase your chances of finding freelance gigs/jobs.
You should connect and reach out to clients after completely filling out your profile to present yourself in the best light. Some freelancing platforms also protect freelance workers’ rights.
Choose the platform that you believe will satisfy your salary expectations and needs in the future, once you develop your client base and portfolio. Don’t choose platforms where low quality work is encouraged – freelancers on these low-quality platforms provide subpar quality work and clients can’t find the quality they’re after.
Step 3 Profile Building
Many platforms have a predesigned template for creating your profile, but don’t fill it out just for the sake of filling out your profile. Take the time out to create something substantial.
Your profile should ideally tell clients about your educational background and the skills you’ve garnered over the years. Don’t forget to mention your expertise and skills that you feel most comfortable with.
Keep it brief, listing any supporting evidence such as awards, special achievements, and why clients should select you. It’
It’s basically your sales pitch.
Step 4 Your Portfolio
Your portfolio helps determine your success as a freelancer – it’s proof that’s necessary to instill trust in clients that you’re up to the task being assigned. Your profile should have a portfolio of work to showcase your skills.
If you’re a beginner to the game, you might have to work at discounted rates to create your portfolio first, or upload sample works to help clients decide whether to work with you or not. It’s a necessary trade-off to gain experience – nothing worth doing comes easy.
Step 5 Pricing
Your skills and experience give you the freedom and leverage to decide what prices to charge – if you’re new and have a limited portfolio, you may have to settle for lower prices.
Don’t settle for peanuts however, because you’re doing yourself and the clients a disservice – lower prices will serve as a demotivator instead of motivation to create high quality work. It also sets a precedence in the minds of the consumer, devaluing the whole ecosystem of the platform, freelancers and clients.
If you see full-time freelancing as a career, work towards covering your monthly expenses with the projects you get, no matter your experience. Nothing ventured nothing gained, right?
Step 6: Finding The Work
First apply to the jobs you’re confident you can do easily and in time – don’t waste clients’ time and your own with projects you’re not comfortable with. Remember, it’ a game of reputation, so don’t risk it with risky jobs.
Remember to ask clients for a positive feedback after completing a job successfully for them – this helps build your portfolio.
When looking for clients it’s important to have a cover letter to convince clients why they should hire you – highlight important skills and experiences for proof. Some platforms also reward your performance as top-freelancers with lower fees, badges, awards, and access to specialized jobs.
You can also reach out to clients on Facebook and linked in groups for work and ask them for positive recommendations once you complete their projects successfully.
Earn Money By Freelancing – The Essential Skills And Tools Required
Now that you know ow to become a freelancer, technical skills like coding, designing, writing or developing will only get you so far – you need to have soft skills like communication, management, listening, negotiation, social media marketing, selling, and more to be successful as a freelancer. These skills overlap with those of successful entrepreneurs.
Here are the skills and some of the tools needed for becoming an accomplished freelancer.
This is a necessity when it comes to business, entrepreneurship or freelancing as a career. You may be an exceptional designer or developer but if you can’t communicate effectively with clients, the entire design and development process becomes slow and tedious.
You need to ask the client the right questions and find out about their business, what their current situation and requirements are, and what they’re hoping to accomplish out of the project. Effectively listening to clients is important for this.
Asking the right questions at the right time ensures that you and the client are on the same frequency. Clients may not have the same background as you, so make sure you leave jargon and difficult terms out of your discussions, and make sure they understand what you’re saying.
Lastly, maintain a professional image in your communications, avoiding slang and being courteous with them. Regularly ask for feedback regarding the work you’ve completed; even if you get negative feedback and criticism, acknowledge it politely and ask where you can improve. Whatever you do, don’t lose your cool.
Remember, there’s no one looking over your shoulder – you’re your own boss, so manage your time and work efficiently. Have a plan and a clear direction of where you want to be by the end of the day, and stick to it. Get your priorities in order when it comes to projects – do the most urgent things first. Creating a to-do list helps.
If you’re working from home, even the slightest things may serve as distractions – emails, to text messages, calls, social media, your dog or cat, the birds chirping outside, your guitar or your gaming console. Find out what your most immediate and noteworthy distractions, and put them away. You’re on your own time and it’s valuable.
You should also keep tabs on your time through apps like Toggl, RescueTime and Google Calendar to be spot on with your time and the stuff you need to get done fast. If you’re writing freelance, the pomodoro technique is very effective and keeps you from getting burnt out quickly, when you write content without breaks.
This is one of the most important skills because of the way freelancing is, by definition. You’re constantly juggling between projects and they’re at different stages of completion. Your entire reputation rests on how well you meet deadlines and the quality of work that you deliver.
Luckily, there are apps and websites like Asana, ProofHub, and Trello that help you keep track of your individual projects on different stages of completion so that you don’t miss a project deadline again and can monitor the progress of your team collaborators if you are managing one as a freelancer.
You’re in far greater control when you automate your project management with these apps and get timely reminders to keep you on track.
This doesn’t come naturally to everyone but it’s important to earn money by freelancing. One of the greatest hurdles faced by freelancers is spending too much time trying to convince clients instead of being able to secure the work quickly.
You need to prepare and present a proposal to clients that meets their needs following an effective process to close the deal quickly.
SEO, Social Media And Email Marketing
These add-on services can create an augmented offering for your clients to help you secure long lasting and profitable relationships. If you know how to do SEO, social media and email marketing, you can maintain clients’ blogs for better SEO, email lists, and social media accounts. When they get better business, you get paid.
Speaking of add-on services, the free-time that you do get when you start out has to be utilized in skill building. Luckily there are thousands of online courses on platforms such as Skillshare and Udemy that allow you to develop new skills and brush up on new ones – you can even find courses where you can learn what is freelancing and master the art.
You’ve got the tools, you can learn the skills, there’s quite a bit of appeal – start freelancing now.