Freelancing is the quickest way to start a business and make money immediately. You can leverage skills you already use and the barrier of entry is low. You can set up a freelance business over a weekend!
There are plenty of online businesses, agencies, and corporations looking for services from freelance workers.
People prefer freelancers because it’s cheaper for them overall. They don’t have to put you on payroll, deal with your taxes or provide you with benefits. Plus an easy contract is less risky to them than having to deal with a bad employee.
But that’s good news for you because this means you can work on your own terms. You can work remotely, on your schedule, and at a rate you set. And you can choose which projects you actually want to work on (when money isn’t tight of course. Starting out, you may want to do all the work you can).
Online Freelancing Ideas
Provide a service of any kind:
- Website Devlopmet / App Development / Programming
- Writing / Copywriting / Proofreading / Editing
- Graphic Design / Photo Editing / Social Media Content Creating
- Video Editing
- Virtual Assisting
- Bookkeeping / Accounting / Tax Preparation
- Managing (Content, Social Media, Business, Project, etc)
- Customer Service
- Resume Writing / Recruiting
- Ad Management
Coaching / Consulting
- Nutritionists / Dieticians / Personal Training
- Law Services
- Life Coaching / Business Coaching
- SEO / Website Audits
- Personal Relations
- Artwork made on a commission basis
How To Start Freelancing
Quick overview on how to freelance: Freelancing Jumpstart Guide
1. Your Skill
You need a skill that not only is specialized, but it has to be in-demand and niched.
For example, website development is a specialized skill that is in demand. You can offer different services in website development, but they should all be in the website development niche.
So website audits, WordPress set up, and website troubleshooting would be great services to offer. But social media content creation might be a stretch from development.
Scroll up to get more ideas in the Online Freelancing Ideas section.
What if you don’t have a specialized skill? That’s fine. But you will need to invest some time to learn something. Learning a skill should take around 3-6 months for a small service or up to 2 years to learn a big skill like website development.
For the most part, you can learn for free online. Most of the time it’s taking a talent you already have and getting good enough to offer it as a service. For example, writing and graphic design take time to get good at it, but many people are already gifted artists.
So don’t get discouraged that you don’t have a skill. Just know that it will take longer to get your business off the ground. You should pick a skillset that looks doable and fun to you and then dive in.
2. Create a Portfolio
Next, you need to prove that you know how to do the skills. People are not going to spend their money unless they know you can provide what you promise.
There’s no better way to prove your skills than a portfolio.
A portfolio is composed of 3-5 projects. These projects let your potential clients get a sneak peek of what you can do for them.
For a website developer, these projects will be websites. For writers, these projects will be writing samples (blog posts, articles, ebooks, etc). For a graphic designer, these projects will be images of their artwork.
You get the idea. These projects must be relevant to the service you want to provide. They must be your best work and look polished.
If you don’t have past work to show off, make up your own projects.
- Google Analytics Reports
- Blog Posts
- Before and Afters
- Case Studies
- Ad Campaign Screenshots
- Edited Videos
You can take past work and make it better. You can create new pieces. It doesn’t matter. Take 3-5 pieces and make it your best work. These pieces will represent your service, business, and brand.
Where to Put a Portfolio
Okay, so you gathered your amazing work and…. Uh, how do you showcase it?
The most popular option is to create a website and put your portfolio there. But this isn’t necessary.
You can have your portfolio in a Google Doc, an Instagram account, a Facebook page, and I’ve seen someone have their portfolio on Pinterest. Codepen and Github are also good places for developers. And Behance is good for designers.
However, a website is recommended because this is what employers and agencies are used to seeing.
A website does not have to be overwhelming. You can use Carrd.io for a one-page, drag and drop situation. Or you can use basic templates from WordPress.
Just make sure it looks clean and that it’s mobile responsive.
Here are some examples:
3. Create a Resume
A resume is a good tool to have. When you’re looking for clients, you may find yourself on job boards and most job board websites want you to submit a resume with your applications.
Some people will be interested in it as well. So you should give them what they want to up your chances.
A few tips on a freelancer’s resume:
- You don’t have to list all your past jobs. Just the ones that are relevant to your skillset.
- You don’t have to list all your extra-curricular activities unless they are relevant to your skillset (for example, you volunteered to redesign an animal shelter’s website)
- Keep your skills relevant to your skillset and keep it niched.
Here are some examples:
4. Business and Finance Plan
So now you got some skills and a portfolio, yo! You’re almost ready.
Next, you need to get some legal stuff in order.
This Isn’t Legal Advice, Bro
For the business side of things, you need to make sure to follow the laws in your area for registering and reporting your business.
Normally freelancers are independent contractors and sole-proprietors so most of the time you don’t need to register if you’re using your name.
But don’t take this as legal advice! You need to double-check and call people.
After getting set up legally, you need to think about contracts.
Because… YOU NEED ONE! For every single client. Sometimes, for every single project.
In it, you set the terms, your rate, and your methods of payment.
You can find contracts online that you can tweak but The best method is to have one drawn up by an attorney that you hire.
Also, this is mandatory: never work without a contract.
And once legal matters are aside, you have to figure out how to handle finances.
This Isn’t Financial Advice, Bruh
You need to keep track of all your income and expenses. You can choose to hire a bookkeeper, do it yourself or use software.
You also need to determine how you’re going to get paid. Set up a business PayPal. Set up a bank account. A client might request direct deposit or checks. You need to figure out if you’ll accept these methods of payment.
Be upfront and have it in your contract.
Once you get cash, you need to budget your money and pay taxes.
YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF PAYING YOUR OWN TAXES!
Your clients are not your employer. You will have to put money aside and pay taxes on your own.
The general rule of thumb is to set aside 30% every time you get paid. Then you pay taxes to your county/state every quarter. But you have to double-check this information for where you live.
After taxes, you have about 70% left. Be sure to set aside a portion for your expenses. You’re going to have to buy software, equipment, services, supplies, training courses, etc. Make sure you’re prepared with a plan.
5. Get Clients
Now that the boring shit is over. We’re actually going to get to the fun, exciting, “oh my god I actually have a business!” step.
It’s time to get clients.
Now there are several ways to find clients.
There are niche job boards you can find. For example, Problogger has a job board for writers looking for work.
But you can go to general job boards like indeed and do searches like “freelance ____” “remote _____” “____ independent contractor” “____ freelancer” and you know, insert your skill into the blank.
You can also go to sites like Upwork and Fiverr, but I wouldn’t recommend it. These sites are over-saturated with competition and they force you to bid so low that you work for less than minimum wage.
Stick with job boards and job listings that are looking for freelancers.
Another method is to run your own ads to get the word out. Of course, this requires a budget upfront. And you need to learn about ad targeting. But it could be an awesome investment!
And there you have it! A crash course in freelancing. Once you get all the setup out of the way, freelancing is a breeze. It’s all about getting clients, doing the work, and getting paid.