How to Get Started as a Freelancer: The Ultimate Guide

 Freelancing brings many benefits to the table, which is why millions around the world are making it their full-time career. Over the past few years, working from home has become increasingly popular, and more and more people prefer freelance work over traditional office jobs.

Making this shift, however, is not as easy as it sounds. You may need to work on many prerequisites before earning your bread and butter via freelance services. This article will discuss those prerequisites and how to ace them to become a full-time freelancer.

1. Outline Your Objectives

Step one in your journey to becoming a successful freelancer is outlining your reasons for moving to work as a freelancer. Are you making this change out of choice or due to frustration with your office job? Is it something you want to pursue for a few months or many years? Would you like to do it full-time or part-time? Will it be a side hustle or your primary source of income?

Being clear about what you hope to accomplish as a freelancer is paramount. It will serve as a basis for your efforts as a freelancer. Thus, before you dive into the world of freelancing, carefully consider your goals and define your “Why?”.

2. Brainstorm Your Services

Once you have determined your reasons to shift to freelancing work, you should brainstorm the services you wish to freelance. Consider a list of skills you were good at in your previous jobs or things you did as a hobby previously that you can freelance at.

If you haven't worked anywhere before, ask yourself what the things that fascinate you the most are that you think you can freelance. Look at demos of how different freelance services work and pick the best one, or perhaps ask a freelancer in your community for advice.

When selecting your primary services, don't forget to look at their profitability, considering the time and effort they require. Also, checking the competition in that particular niche will help you know how easy it will be to get clients. If your primary service is way oversaturated, don't hesitate to change it, even if you are way too good at it.

3. Get the Right Education

Having analyzed the service you want to freelance and having defined your “Why,” the next step is to get the proper education. The phase of education will be broken up into two parts. First, your goal will be to hone your skills. Second, you need to be familiar with how freelancing works.

Your primary goal is to become a subject-matter expert in your freelance skills, so you know better than anyone what courses or certifications you should take. Platforms like Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, and many others can help you find those.

However, if you're interested in learning about the workflows of different freelance platforms, such as Upwork and Fiverr, you may have to take some courses. Below are two courses you may find helpful.

  1. Fiverr Freelancing 2022: Sell Fiverr Gigs Like The Top 1% (For Fiverr Sellers)
  2. How to Dominate Freelancing on Upwork (For Upwork Sellers)

4. Work on Your Portfolio

Portfolio refers to past projects you have worked on. Demonstrating experience on similar projects helps you win the trust of clients. That's what a portfolio is for. Additionally, a strong portfolio sets you apart from other sellers. So, take the time to gather all relevant projects you have completed in the past and showcase them in one place.

Adding the portfolio in the right way is equally important. There are dedicated sections on freelance platforms that let you add your portfolio, but you can also create a personal website to add your projects there. You should, however, include relevant samples under each gig or service so that clients can easily navigate through them, especially if you offer multiple services at once.

Even if you are a beginner with no samples to include in your portfolio, don't worry. Seek out local clients and offer to work free of cost on their projects to build up a portfolio with genuine reviews. It's even possible to complete a project just for yourself and later use it for your portfolio.

More importantly, you shouldn't fool your clients by copying someone else's work or adding others' projects to your portfolio, as it won't go over well with them.

5. Choose the Right Freelance Platform

Once you are ready to pitch clients, the next step is choosing the right freelance platform. Check the pricing and commission structure of different platforms to calculate profitability, see how responsive their customer service is, assess how smooth the interviewing and contracting process is, and research the competition in your niche on the marketplace.

After analyzing the ups and downs of different freelance platforms:

  1. Choose the one that best suits your needs.
  2. When choosing, don't restrict yourself to a few factors, such as how easy it is to find jobs as a new seller, the number of available jobs, or the ease of getting started.
  3. Look at the bigger picture by keeping in mind your long-term growth as a freelancer and building long-term relationships with clients.

It's also possible to sign up for multiple platforms, then focus your attention and efforts on the one that generates the best results. Additionally, it is essential to stop relying on freelance platforms in the long run and start looking for direct contracting opportunities to work directly with clients.

Even a tiny mistake can result in the closure of your account, which brings you back to where you started. So, be aware of the risk! 

6. Work on Your Communications

From retaining the client for long years to winning the project with an engaging proposal, it all depends on how well you communicate. The more effective your communication is, the more likely you will convert the client during an interview. It is thus crucial to improve communication skills.

To help you stand out from your competitors, here are a few communication tips to follow:

  • Keep your conversation brief and to the point.
  • Ask relevant questions.
  • Embrace your mistakes.
  • Take feedback with a positive attitude.
  • Maintain a professional tone when speaking.
  • Don't overburden your clients with follow-ups.
  • Be patient and transparent.

Here are some courses that you can take to improve your communication skills:

  1. The Art of Communications - Become A Master Communicator
  2. Communication Fundamentals: How To Communicate Better
  3. Improve Your English Communication Skills Specialization

The importance of textual conversations cannot be overstated. Rather than video or voice calls, prefer text-based communication with your clients. They're more comfortable, and you have time to think before speaking.

Become a Successful Freelancer

The tips and steps in the list will serve as stepping stones on your freelance journey. As with any self-employment venture, however, starting out may be challenging. Be patient when hunting for your first projects and focus on building your authority as a subject-matter expert. When you succeed in doing that, you'll never run out of projects.

If you aren't finding clients even after following the tips discussed in the article, you might be making some mistakes that contribute to your failure.

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