How do I start working as a freelancer?

Freelancing is hard. But for some, it pays well. Research shows in the United States, the number of six-figure freelancers (those who have reported incomes of over $100,000) is growing year on year. At present, 3.1 million people (20% of the U.S. workforce) earn over $100,000 per year as a freelancer (Brodmin).

Are more people freelancing?

With job security being a concern stemmed from a fluctuating economy, more people are looking to freelance on the side to bring in extra income. For others, the perks often associated with freelancing (the flexibility, being in control of your own time etc) pushes them to work harder and smarter to make freelancing their primary source of income. In most instances, it’s to replace their corporate 9 to 5 job which no longer interests them.

Forbes predicts the majority of the US and UK workforce will be made up of freelancers by 2027. According to research undertaken by Brodmin, over 57.3 million people in the United States and 4.7 million people in the United Kingdom currently work on a freelance basis in 2021.

What kind of work can I do as a freelancer?

Ideally, start with a service that you’re good at and fully qualified in (if required to practice your work independently). Whether it’s accounting, law, consulting, IT, tutoring, software engineering, copywriting, video editing, marketing, graphic design or coding – businesses and solo entrepreneurs will need to hire freelancers to help out in areas in which they’re not so good at or have no interest in doing.

Do I have to be great at what I do before I can freelance?

It is recommended to have experience and proof of work before you begin freelancing. Being great at what you do does help to win work. However, it is not essential to be the best at what you do to start freelancing. You just have to be more knowledgeable and skillful than the person or business who is looking to hire for help.

How do I start freelancing?

The first step is to build up a portfolio of freelance work and references who would be happy to vouch for you. Your portfolio and references should be included in your freelance CV and personal website if you have one.

How do I build up my freelance portfolio?

Talk to your friends and family about your freelance services. Ask if they know anyone that may need help in what you’re offering. This would be the easiest way to start building up your freelance portfolio and pool of references.

No luck from friends and family? Start looking at Facebook groups and Reddit communities that are relevant to you. Create a post offering your freelance services and make it clear to everyone that you’re building up your freelance portfolio. People love to help.

Should I work for free when building up my freelance portfolio?

If progress is more important to you than money, working for free (strategically) will help speed up the portfolio-building process. For instance, assuming you do a good job – offering free work to high-profile businesses or charities will pay dividends in the form of future referrals and social proof. Once you have a portfolio of work that you can show off with references, it is easier to win paid freelance work.

Meanwhile, if you have bills to pay then working for free isn’t usually viable. Instead, offer your freelance services at a discounted rate to build up your freelance portfolio.

Should I quit my job to focus on freelancing?

Assuming you’ve got bills to pay and little savings to fall back on, quitting your job to build up a freelance portfolio is not recommended. Instead, freelance outside your contracted work hours to give you peace of mind of a monthly income (from your job) whilst building up your freelance portfolio.

My freelance portfolio is ready – what’s next?

Ensure to add your portfolio of work into your freelance CV and website if you have one. Make it clear that you’re looking for freelance work. Include your hourly/daily/monthly rate in your freelance CV. This makes it easier for business owners and hiring managers to qualify themselves before getting in contact with you.

The reasoning for this is that if your freelance rate is outside their budget, they won’t bother contacting you. This saves time for both sides – no point taking part in calls or interviews if they don’t have the budget to hire you. If they like your CV, they may keep it on file for future work that’s relevant to your skill sets and portfolio.

Ideally, businesses will get back to you to arrange a call/interview to discuss more about your freelance CV, how you work, and typically to also confirm your freelance rate.

How do I find freelance jobs?

Simply apply to roles advertised on job boards such as Indeed and LinkedIn Jobs using your freelance CV. Where it is possible to include notes or a covering letter, make it clear that you’re looking for freelance work. If they like your CV and the decision-maker is open to contracting work to a freelancer, they will be in contact to discuss more.

Another viable approach is using Google to search for businesses located near you. Call them to introduce yourself and to see if there are any current or upcoming opportunities that are relevant to your freelance work. If there is scope for potential work, arrange a time and day to meet the manager in person. This is where you can listen to their needs and see if you can help them. Also, a great place to talk more about yourself and show them your portfolio of work if there’s an appropriate time to do so.

Email marketing is also a great way to scale your outreach when finding freelance work. Search for businesses that you want to help using business directories, Facebook and Instagram pages. Then take the time to reach out to them via email. Thankfully you can now use email marketing automation software to do the bulk of the work for you. Personally, I would recommend SendGrid as you can send up to 100 emails (no spam email) per day for free.

Which freelancing site is best for beginners?

Upwork and Fiverr are the most popular freelance sites. It’s a great place to start if you’re struggling to market yourself and win work as a freelancer. You can also use freelancing sites to build up your portfolio of work. However, the main drawback is that you usually have to compete on price. Many freelancers will undercut you to win work.

The best approach is to build up your own pipeline of prospective clients, win work and do a great job! Then ask for recommendations and referrals.

Compete on quality and value. You’ll work less and earn more.

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