Freelancing is a great way to dive into your own business and to start making money on your own terms. Freelancers have complete control over their rates, clients, projects and working hours.
You get to choose if a client or project is something you want or should do. You get to choose your hourly rate. You get to choose if you want to work at 2pm or 2am.
But how do you get started with freelancing? This is going to be a quick and dirty jumpstart guide that can have you up and running today if you have skills or in 6-12 months if you don’t.
Step 1. Have or Choose a Skill
We are looking for online skills that you can provide as a service. If you already have a skill that’s great! If you don’t, you want to pick one and spend the next couple of months learning and practicing this skill. Here are some ideas:
Website development Copywriting Ghostwriting Blog / Article Writing Graphic Design SEO Social Media Management Video Editing Editing / Proofreading Resume Writing
Step 2. Create a Portfolio (Website Preferred)
Next, you’re going to need a portfolio to prove to clients that you walk the talk. You need an online space, most preferably a website, where you can showcase your skills. To do this, you will create pieces to demonstrate your abilities.
For example, if you’re a website developer, you need to present 3-5 beautiful and functional websites you have created. The websites can be fake websites or side projects that you create.
If you’re a writer, then you’re going to need to have written articles showcased on your website. If you’re a video editor, then present videos that you have edited.
If you have no experience or projects to present, MAKE THEM. They don’t have to be from paid clients. They can be projects that you do solely for the purpose of showing off your skills.
Another great way to gain experience is to volunteer at charity organizations in your area. You can donate your skills to help them with their marketing and mission.
Step 4: Set Up Business Systems
Before you start chasing clients, you need to have business systems in place. How will people find you? What are your prices? What is your timeframe? What will the process look like from the time the client contacts you when you submit the work?
How will you charge your clients? You can charge upfront, after project completion or half up front and half after project completion.
What will your invoice look like, how will you keep track of them? Do you have a template contract?
Put these into place. Then set up a separate checking account. Also note that you will need to set money aside for taxes every time you get paid. Have a system for that as well.
Step 3. Look for Gigs
Finally, you can start looking for gigs! Depending on your skill you can find websites dedicated to finding jobs. Problogger has a job board for writers, for example. You can also use Upwork.com, but that is highly competitive and saturated.
I like to search into Google “freelance >enter skill here< jobs”. This pops up Google’s job search feature where you can look for freelance opportunities near you or all over the country.
After selecting good ones, apply. You may want to set up a LinkedIn page, but it’s not always necessary.
You want everything to be concise and professional when applying. Always proofread before submitting.
Then apply to a bunch of them. Just like finding a 9-5 job, it’s a competitive world out there. Odds are you are not going to hear back from anyone if you only applied to one.
Step 4: Do Your Best Work
When you get work, do your best work. Go above and beyond to make the client happy and satisfied.
This will build character and rapport. It will result in repeat clients and a good word-of-mouth review which is the best marketing technique!
Afterward, you can ask for a review or testimonial. Collecting these for your website will give you more authority. If your clients give you any criticism, feedback, or suggestions, take them very seriously! Try to improve with these remarks.
Step 5: Grow
You can only get better. Get advanced at the skill, raise your rates, and start outsourcing work and managing a team. These are some ways to grow your business over time. You can also implement social media and marketing to get more eyes on your brand.
And that’s the quick and dirty guide on how to start a freelance business!