A freelancer is a self-employed person who offers services, often working on several jobs for multiple clients at one time.

Read who is a freelancer?

Choosing freelancing whether for carreer pursuit or for the passion you have in the skill and services you render; knowing where and how to start can be frustrating.

This article will help you to get started!

Below are the six (6) steps you need to take in this journey as a Freelancer:

Step 1: Consider whether freelancing is for you.

Freelancing has its pros and cons (more on that later), but in general, you must possess a specific mindset to be a freelancer. I call this the self discovery step. Being your own boss is a great thing if you’re disciplined and reliable. Freelancing enables you to set your own schedule, so you can take a day off whenever you want, but you won’t be paid for that time because there is no such thing as paid leave.

If you want to be a freelancer, you should maintain a daily work routine, be ready to juggle several projects at the same time and continually look for new projects so you can maintain a steady flow of work.

If you’re still working full time, don’t quit your job immediately. Instead, combine freelancing and full-time work until you accumulate enough clients and connections to support yourself as a freelancer. Working from a comfortable place of steady work and safe income is a much better environment for developing your freelance business. 

Step 2: Find a platform.

Most freelancers use freelancing platforms to find work. While recommendations and social media channels like LinkedIn can also be a great source of gigs, platforms are popular because they allow you to effortlessly connect with clients looking for freelancers. There is always a job available there. 

Also, most of these platforms have policies and offer protection both for buyers and freelance workers. On freelance platforms, every project you take on is a mini contract, and both you and the client are required to adhere to its terms.

Choosing the platform with the model that fits your needs and salary expectations is incredibly important for your success. Plenty of freelancing websites encourage the so-called “race to the bottom,” where freelancers provide poor quality work in exchange for poor compensation. Ultimately, it doesn’t help anyone – buyers cannot find good quality of work and freelancers cannot earn enough money. 

Some freelancing platforms, like Hiremotely, base their business model on admitting only top freelance software developers and connect them with clients based on very specific requirements. Being a member of such an exclusive platform allows you to connect with serious clients and get paid for high-quality work. The admission process on such platforms may take several weeks and include several rounds of relevant tests.

Step 3: Build your profile.

You don’t have to prepare a classical CV, as most freelancing websites have a predesigned template that you need to fill out with your information, but you shouldn’t treat your freelancing profile as a checkbox exercise.

Take time to create a substantial profile that will inform potential clients about your education, skills, expertise and experience. You don’t have to write novels – keep it short and sweet. List your skills, experiences, special achievements and explain why you’re the best person for the job.

Step 4: Build your portfolio.

Your profile may state that you’re an astronaut, but unless you upload your selfie from the international space station, potential clients are unlikely to believe you. So, when you create your profile, make sure you provide a portfolio that illustrates your skills and experience. Here’s an example of my inbound marketing portfolio. 

But what if you’re a beginner in your chosen field? My suggestion is to either take time to create a portfolio with sample works or simply accept several jobs at a discounted rate in exchange for experience. 

Step 5: Determine your price.

Speaking of discounts, while your hourly rate or project price heavily depends on your skill set and experience, don’t work for peanuts. We already mentioned how this devalues both freelancers and the quality of work. 

If you have only a couple of years of experience, of course, you cannot charge the same rate as freelancers with 10 years of work under their belts. However, if you eventually want to turn freelancing into your full-time job, the rate should cover your monthly expenses if you have steady work, no matter how experienced you are.

Step 6: Find work.

If you’re actively looking for projects and clients, here are a few tips to help you find them. First, apply only for the jobs you are confident you can do. There is no point in applying for a project you cannot complete on time with satisfactory results. As a freelancer, you’re building your reputation from scratch and especially in the beginning, it’s of utmost importance to secure positive feedback.

When you apply for jobs, make sure you craft a relevant cover letter that explains why you’re the best choice for that particular job or project. Highlight the skills and experience that are relevant to requirements. 

Over time, freelancing platforms reward top-rated freelancers with badges, lower fees and access to specially tailored job offers, so it’s in your best interest to keep your clients happy.

Some freelancers avoid online marketplaces because they come with the fees (usually between 5% and 20% of your earnings) that can really add up by the end of the month. In that case, try to use various groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to find work. However, be aware that with these gigs, there is no contract in place and no guarantee that someone won’t take your work and never pay for it.

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