How to Successfully Become a Freelancer

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jul 26, 2021

Jul 26, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

Did you know that 1 in 3 people in the U.S. workforce engaged in the form of freelance work in 2020? The result of that work accumulated in the form of $1.2 trillion injected into the American markets. 

Simply put, most of us have gotten a small taste of what freelancing can hold for us. As a matter of fact, you've clicked on this article because you've wanted to become a freelancer. But you're not sure whether you're ready or not. 

No worries, now is the perfect time to learn the basic strategies of either becoming a full-time freelancer or a part-timer. Keep on reading for our key strategies on how to create the freelance career of your dreams.

Become a Freelancer 101: What Are Your Parameters?

This is the time to focus on becoming a specialist, even though your current employer or work experience told you that being a generalist is the way to go.

You can start by doing a side hustle, like the one mentioned in this Pinecone research review. However, once you've decided to deal with clients on a one-to-one basis, things can look quite different.

When clients look at the freelance market, they'll be looking for a specialist with a specific background and experience. For instance, a firm might be looking for a content writer specializing in writing about tech and the latest gadgets hitting the market. 

They won't give a second glance to a superb writer who has a portfolio filled with work on the plumbing industry, for example. Now is the time to narrow down your focus and decide what sort of service you'll be offering. Besides, if you've been dealing with an employment gap, freelancing is a great way to sharpen your skillset. 

Start by considering the type of freelance business you'll want to run. After adding samples of the work you've completed in the past, you'll want to take a close look at your expertise and your background knowledge. 

Moreover, if your certification section looks a bit stale or empty, you'll want to take a relevant certification or two. This will boost your credibility in tandem with your background. 

Set Your Price Range and Adjust

It's rather tempting to offer your work for the lower than what you actually deserve. Underselling your work might attract more clients at first, but they'll be the wrong ones for your actual client base. 

Take an unbiased look at your qualifications, and then price yourself competitively. After all, your potential clients will want to work with professionals who produce high-quality work. So, when you're pricing yourself too low, you're sabotaging the confidence of your potential clients in your skills and the quality work that you can actually provide. 

Moreover, starting with a low rate can make it rather hard to increase your rates later on. In short, you'll want to price yourself as honestly as possible. You can even select an hourly rate and then calculate how many hours it can take you to finish, on average. 

Make sure you've added some time for revisions and communication with the client. It's always better to overdeliver than underdeliver. 

Market Yourself on Online Platforms

No matter how good you actually are, clients aren't going to materialize out of thin air. This is especially true for the first year of your freelancer career. You'll need to use various web-based platforms and marketplaces to gain exposure and connect with clients.

Platforms like Upwork or Fiverr make it easier for companies and firms to find the independent professionals they need for their project-based needs. Instead of searching for individual freelancers, they can collect different bids from many freelancers and compare their work all in one place through those platforms. 

Keep the Communication Channels Open

As you start to work for yourself, you'll find that there's no communication manager to ensure that you're sending (or receiving) all the updates or edits you need to produce your work.

Once you've started your project, it's essential to keep your clients up to date on your progress. This becomes a crucial step in your client management and reputation. Also, you'll want to ensure that you're staying true to the guidelines that the client outlined in your contract, especially the ones highlighting the key milestones. 

If there's an emergency, or you have to adjust your deadlines for a reason, you must contact your client and immediately notify them. You can also share the reasoning behind the change and offer them an alternative plan. 

Basically, the more you keep the lines of communication open, the fewer problems you'll face at the end of your project. 

Ask For Referrals With Confidence

It's natural for you to feel shy the first couple of times you ask your satisfied clients for referrals. But the more you get used to it, the easier it becomes. 

Asking for referrals is an industry standard, so there's nothing to feel embarrassed about. Start by telling your clients that you want to build an outstanding business. If they have anyone they know looking for freelancers, or independent professionals, you're available.

In the freelancing industry, referrals can be worth their weight in gold. It's a recommendation coming from customers who already loved working with you. 

Train Your Resilience Muscle

This step is going to take some time. But without it, you won't last as a freelancer for a whole year. 

The thing about work as a freelancer is that it's filled with rejection and dealing with some clients that are hard to manage. Acknowledge the fact that you'll get rejected sooner rather than later to whatever projects you apply to. Also, your work will be nitpicked to death (and back). 

Resilience is key to train in times of worry and anger. While both are natural emotions on the human spectrum, they won't actually help you get more gigs or get a bad client to pay you on time. Yet, if you're looking towards becoming a professional freelancer, it's all a part of the job. 

Become Self-Employed: Unlocking the Manifesto

Nothing can be more exciting than taking your own fate into your hands. But it can be rather nerve-wracking as well. 

Hopefully, our explainer has shed some light on the steps you need to take to become a freelancer—and a successful one to boot. 

And if you enjoyed our article, make sure to check out our additional tips and tricks, all available to you in our business section. You can read gems like this article about protecting your freelancing career