Work as a Freelancer: Tips to Get Started

Have you looked into the option of giving up your 9-5 desk job and working as a freelancer? Learn how you can get started.

Starting a freelance business is not for everyone. There are people who want a job, rather than the freedom and flexibility that freelancing offers. However, if you’ve decided to start your work as a freelancer, you’re in for a treat!

This article will outline the basic foundations required to start your freelancing career. It will also address some common questions that will help you decide if freelancing is indeed the right path for you.

When you decide to become a freelancer, it is very important to understand the basics, and what it means to be one. 

It’s something that pretty much anyone can do. By starting to become a freelancer, you will be able to make money without the restrictions of a full-time job. You should know that working as a freelancer means you are in charge of your own business and are 100% responsible for the success or failure of your decisions.

Is freelancing the right choice for you?

To start your own freelancing business you need to have courage and a good dose of optimism because you never know how things are going to go. Although starting a freelance business requires some time and commitment, it can be a really great experience that will lead to interesting new opportunities.

The most important thing when working as a freelancer is to never stop learning from others. Even experienced professionals learn something new everyday and you have to keep this in mind if you’re going to be able to offer your customers something they haven’t seen before.

What skills do you have to offer as a freelancer?

It’s important that you identify this earlier on. You need to start by thinking about what skills you have. Writing them down on paper can help you easily visualize what you can offer to an audience that can find value.

These skills are likely things you developed over the course of your life. The most successful freelancers are those that play to their strengths, and their interests.

Each skill could be ranked based on your proficiency. Accordingly, you can decide which of those you would like to further develop and offer it as a service. For example, if you have the expertise in designing and creating campaigns on Facebook, you could further expand on this to offer them as a service to businesses who can benefit from it.

Does the offering interest you?

Don’t take this step for granted. Make sure you spend some time reflecting on this. Just like you do with your skills, you’d also need to recognise what interests you. What are your passions and what kind of work do you most enjoy doing?

Of course, these can change over time but it’s important that you choose to offer something that you’re genuinely interested in.

Freelancing journey can be tough and it can take you through a series of challenges. You can only get through these tough times if you are truly passionate about what you’re doing.

Think about what kind of work makes you happy. Makes you fulfilled.

To be successful at freelancing, you should reflect on your past projects to identify which of them has been most rewarding and enjoyable. Identify what it is about those areas that has made them so satisfying to you, and consider how you can bring similar projects as a freelancer.

Concentrating on doing work that makes you happy will improve your quality of life and give you a spark that other freelancers do not have.

Bridging the skills and interest to work as a freelancer

Ideas to work as a freelancer

There are plenty of options for you to work as a freelancer. Chances are you already have an idea of what you would like to do, however, below, in no particular order is a list of potential freelance business ideas.

  • Writing: Copywriting, Editing, Proofreading, Blogs, Journalism, Ghost-writing, Content writing;
  • Web development:  Web design, Website creation, Software programming;
  • Design: Graphic, social media posts, gaming art, print, visual, fashion, interior, architectural, jewellery, illustrations;
  • Video & Animation: Editing, motion graphics, trailer producer, GIFs
  • Photography
  • Transcribing
  • Translating
  • Teaching
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Data entry
  • Admin
  • Bookkeeping
  • Virtual assistant
  • Marketing
  • Tutoring

Specialization in a particular niche is essential to business growth—but it can evolve as your direction changes. Narrowing down your niche is a relatively easy process. As you enter the business world, it is likely to occur naturally. Freelancing is a great way to find out what interests you most. Take some time to figure out what type of work resonates with you, and be sure to seek out clients that share that interest.

How to identify the ideal clients for your freelancing business

It’s important to remember that, as a freelancer, you should be aiming for quality over quantity. While (and this occurs especially when you are starting out) it can be tempting to take any and all clients you encounter, you should know that you are allowed to say “no”.

While it may seem quick and easy to take any job that comes your way, you should be careful not to spread yourself too thin. 

Keep in mind that you don’t have to accept every job that comes along, especially when you are trusting your business to a client. It’s very important to make the time to find clients you feel 100 percent comfortable with. 

Aim for long-term clients that understand your boundaries and value your experience and expertise.

Below are some tell-tale signs that may indicate to you that they are NOT the best clients to work with:

  • No discussion about your fee.
  • The client brief is vague and have not figured what they want out of the project.
  • They try to cut your rate drastically or worse, try to suggest how much you should be charging them.
  • Constantly requesting stuff for free. These could include change requests, revisions etc.
  • They don’t respect your schedule. So they expect you start working on their project right away!
  • They refuse to make an upfront payment (i.e. initial deposit).
  • They refuse to follow your process and imposes their own.

Are there any hidden costs to freelancing?

There are several costs to consider when becoming a freelancer. These could include overhead costs incurred upon launching your business, including technology, office equipment, insurance, and licensing fees. 

With that said, you can definitely bring down or even avoid some of these costs too. For instance, can you work from home or do you need to rent somewhere? If you are thinking about using a coffee shop as an office—remember to budget in the coffees (and snacks!).

Additionally, some of these start-up costs can be offset as a deduction against your income, but it is not required by law.

Working these out in advance is the best way to not get caught out with unexpected expenses. Here’s a template that you could use to determine the rate you should charged for your projects taking into account all the forseeable expenses.

Final thoughts

It all comes down to you deciding if you have what it takes to work as a freelancer. Becoming a freelance worker is a great alternative to a traditional nine-to-five job. As a freelancer, you have the freedom to decide your own schedule and work from anywhere you want. 

In order to set up your freelance business and become a successful freelancer, it will take time, effort, and discipline. Hopefully, this article will help you get the ball rolling towards shifting your mindset towards becoming a better freelancer.

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