Before We Start: Check out my new course The 4-Hour Agency, where you learn how to quickly start, grow, and scale a 6-figure agency.
So you would like to become a freelancer – whether full time or as a side gig. You’ve probably thought about what you would like to freelance in.
Now all you need to do is start. So work will start rolling in, right?
One massive misconception about freelancing is that you simply sit there and work comes to you. The truth is you’ve got to fight for it, and fight hard. And you have to learn how to work freelance at home – which is one of the best ways to earn money from home without any investment.
But first, what is freelancing? According to the dictionary:
Freelancing is doing pieces of work for different organizations, rather than working all the time for a single organization.
I hate to break this to you, but freelancing means working. and that I mean working. Unlike your 9-5 cubicle, there’s nothing cushy about freelancing, nothing stable about it until you’ve made it that way (more on this later).
But there are some simple secrets to becoming a successful freelancer which I’m going to share with you in this blog post on how to make money freelancing online.
Using these steps – and a touch of determination – I’ve seen people get out of their desk jobs and begin working comfortably for themselves in 30 days. Freelancing is one of the best ways in learning how to make money online for beginners.
If they can do it, so can you.
So how can you start freelancing work?
Identify your skills
Ask yourself some key questions:
- What job experiences do I have? What academic background do I come from?
- What do I do well? What do my friends often ask me for help or advice on?
- What do I enjoy doing in my free time? What type of work make time seem to fly?
Identifying the innate talents that you enjoy doing most enjoy can give really meaningful indicators of what kinds of services you should offer to the market. Ultimately, you want to do something that you are good at, that you enjoy and that the market pays you for.
If you like to talk to people and solve their problems, you may also want to consider starting a consulting business.
You can even learn how to open an online store step by step, and then help other businesses do it.
What if you’re fresh out of school? How to start freelancing with no experience? Look at what subjects you enjoyed studying, what interests you in and out of school, and what you are good at doing. Many successful freelancers do not have prior working experience – but they make up for it with insane passion and ability to learn quickly.
Find a profitable niche
Let’s assume you’re a graphic designer by trade, or you have been building your skills with Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop in your free time.
Tons of competitors in your industry are willing to charge lower rates than you. Think freelancers from all around the world with a lower cost of living who are willing to accept lesser-paid gigs. Forget the idea of trying to compete on price as a freelancer.
It’s not worth racing to the bottom, especially when sites like Fiverr, Upwork or other freelance job sites already have countless options for low-priced freelancers. Side note: Speaking from experience, I do not recommend ever listing your services on these freelancer sites, unless you got to.
By seeking a profitable niche for your freelance business (yes, you should treat it as a business!), you’re actively seeking out an industry and sort of client that values quality. When you’re in a space that competes on quality, you’ll completely change the way you sell your services. You will be competing on value, not price.
Instead of taking any graphic design gig that comes your way, focus on infographic design for startup blogs, or eBook layouts for tech companies. Choose a niche that you are interested in, and specialize in becoming the best in that space. Built your skills to a level you can confidently charge a premium for. See also: Advantages and disadvantages of segmenting the market.
Check out my comprehensive list of niche marketing examples.
When you choose a niche, you will eventually start to develop products for that niche. That will allow your business to truly scale without you having to trade time for money. Check out the best digital products to sell online for more product ideas.
Contact everyone you know
The very first thing I did when deciding to freelance was to tell every single person I have ever known and told them my decision.
I also told them that I would be quite happy to work on projects immediately.
The reasons I told my friends, friends of friends, colleagues, and ex-colleagues that I am willing to work on projects immediately:
- Experience: Get the experience you need to get started
- Contacts: They may have potential clients or may refer you to someone who has
- References: Get super valuable testimonials on your first projects
The earlier you send this email or message the better. If you haven’t decided to quit your job yet, you should tell everyone about your side gig.
Remember that clients take time to develop. So you should reach out to people as soon as possible.
If you have already started freelancing, it’s never too late to start reaching out to people and expanding your network. If you have a track record already, your outreach will go much further. This is why this step should be repeated annually even once you’re a successful freelancer! Keep yourself fresh in people’s minds and be their go-to person the moment they need someone in your field.
So after I contacted my entire network, what did I do next?
Work on your personal brand
What does my personal brand have to do with anything? Why can’t I just make a billboard and put it online/buy a newspaper ad/stick flyers to a tree or under the windshield-wipers of random cars?
The reason is that as a freelancer, YOU ARE YOUR BRAND.
This is the truth regardless of whether you’re a developer, a user experience designer, a writer or a marketer.
What do I mean by “you are your brand”?
By selling your services, you’re selling yourself. How people encounter you online is reflective of your professionalism. Your personality counts. Big time. If people don’t like you or trust you, they won’t buy what you’re selling.
So, how do you build your brand online? This is especially important as you learn how to become a freelancer online.
Get yourself on LinkedIn and fill up your profile. Every single detail of your experience. Every relevant job you have ever had. Everything about yourself that would be interesting.
Then do the same thing on Facebook. Join relevant Facebook groups for your field and begin asking questions and answering as many questions as you can.
Then do the same thing on Twitter.
And on Meetup.
And on Quora.
Asking and answering questions is the easiest method to get people interested in what you’re doing. Learn how to work online and turn your online connections into offline meetings for coffee, if you wish.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get 1000 Twitter followers instantly, because what’s important here is that quality wins over quantity any time. Stay focused, stay targeted, and talk to every new connection like they’re your friend.
Get yourself a mentor
Mentors can shortcut your route to success. If you have someone who has been there before, mentoring you and guiding you, obviously you are going to get there faster. Mentors and coaches are important in achieving success.
So how does one find a mentor?
You can get virtual access to successful freelancers and agency owners easily these days. For example: consuming their free content, buying their courses, and reading their books,… Virtual mentors are powerful. Find the best courses and invest in acquiring knowledge.
You can also get mentors to coach you directly. You don’t need the most successful person in the field. You just need someone with more experience than you, to get you to that next level as you learn how to work freelance at home.
Perfect your pitch
When you first start freelancing, you may want to craft the perfect way to pitch yourself – it’s an asset that will be worth its weight in gold for years.
No matter how skilled you are at your craft, you need to showcase your skills in the best way possible. You must be ready to communicate those strengths and convert your conversations into paying clients.
Here are the essentials of crafting an efficient freelance proposal that lands clients:
- Make a grand entrance with an elevator pitch email that provides immense value upfront and shows that you have done your homework.
- Be sure to understand what the clients want and how you can solve their biggest problems.
- Sell your unique strengths and value proposition.
- Anticipate and answer any questions or objections which may arise.
- Lean on relevant work samples and past projects to demonstrate your expertise.
- Provide testimonials and references, if any.
- Use a visually appealing layout for your proposal.
Build your credibility
There are many ways to build your credibility within your industry. Create high-quality blog posts, social media, or video content and work with notable influencers in your industry. You can also establish credibility by writing an ebook, creating an online course, and accepting speaking engagements. Simply start improving your visibility within your niche!
These credibility-boosters can help you add your list of accomplishments that you can highlight on your portfolio and demonstrate your knowledge. The wider you can broadcast your message, the more influence you will build within your niche.
Level up your skills
The best way to justify higher rates? Make sure you possess impressive skills that are in high demand.
Practice using your new skills by building the kinds of projects you want to eventually be paid for. The more you differentiate yourself with related projects you have worked on successfully before, you gain a better chance of attracting your ideal clients,
And remember that while highly trained freelancers can get paid far more for their work, you don’t need to head back to school. Taking online classes that fill in those skill gaps can get you on track and put you in charge of your education.
Build an agency to scale
Now once you get your freelancing business running, you may like to scale it further. And you do this by building a real agency, with employees who can replace you and take in more clients.
Not everyone would want to do this. You can remain as a one-person shop – and that’s perfectly fine!
But if you like a bit more passive income and reduce your hours, building an agency is the way to go. When you start to build a following, you can even make money using affiliate marketing.
In fact, you can choose this agency route directly without being a freelancer first. If you are a digital marketer, you may want to check out: How to start a digital marketing agency
Hopefully, this article has helped you learn how to start freelancing work and how to become a freelancer online. Now get rolling!