Freelancing seems to be the perfect way to make a living. You get to be your own boss, decide when to work and whom to work for.
But, if you’ve ever tried stepping into the competitive field of freelancing, regardless of your expertise or profession, you know very well how difficult it can be.
It can be hard to find a decent paying gig and break into a given market, let alone make a solid amount of money consistently. So, how to become a freelancer?
First Lets Talk About the Perks
Let’s see what’s good about being a freelancer. Being a corporate errand boy, isn’t everyone’s dream. Not all of us can deal with everything a regular 9 to 5 job entails. Some people love climbing up the corporate ladder, but some just aren’t cut out for that and that is fine.
But, most of those who aren’t, have either looked or are looking for a way to step into the freelancing arena. If you’re thinking about that – CONGRATULATIONS, that is a brave and bold move. But, let’s not digress: the biggest benefit of being a freelancer is freedom.
You don’t really have to be anywhere at any time. Sure, you may still have deadlines and you may still have to work very hard to make a decent amount of money, but that is a small price to pay, considering what you might get in return.
What Does It Take to Make It?
You know why you want to be a freelancer, but you aren’t sure exactly how to get there. Everything seems overwhelming at first, there’s tons of information out there – some of it brilliant, some of it generic and completely useless. Instead of digging through it all to find out what works, you should focus on what really matters.
These Wonderful Articles Will Further Guide Your Freelancing Journey
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s cover a few important factors that will contribute to your goal of becoming a freelancer.
I know what you may be thinking as you continue to read (if you continue to read) that all this is just fodder and some of the points are obvious. However, I must warn you and also remind you they still are highly crucial to success!
I can almost guarantee that if you follow the things you read on this site and more specifically this article, you will NOT fall short of your goals!
Build a Portfolio
Whether we like it or not, hiring a freelancer is not a decision people make easily. Everyone wants to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth. Would you book a hotel if you had no idea what it looked like, what the rooms were like or what the food was like …? Exactly!
You need to build an impressive, well-structured portfolio. The best way to go about doing this is creating a simple website. Use your name as the domain, provide as much info about yourself as you can, including samples of your work, references, and feedback from previous clients.
If you want to freelance, you probably aren’t a huge fan of networking. Going to events, meeting the right people, being at the right place at the right time – it’s boring, fake, contrived, and above all, it will make you feel like you’re pretending to be something you’re not.
Still, networking is a necessity even for freelancers. Luckily, it is not as difficult as it is in the corporate world. Setting up accounts on social media platforms is a must. Focus on specialized networks (LinkedIn would be a good place to start), join related groups, forums and websites. In short, build a presence within the industry that you wish to break into.
And since networking is so important, it deserves another section. If you’ve already started building your online presence, you’ve probably noticed that the market is very saturated. It’s incredibly hard to get a good-paying gig on freelancing platforms and this is why you, as a beginner, should get creative and look at unconventional places.
Pro tip: Reddit – This is one of the most visited websites on the world wide web and whatever it is that you want to discuss – there is a subreddit (specialized forum) dedicated to it. There are countless subreddits for freelancers too. Go there and make yourself known.
Structure Your Day
If you don’t want to be a part of the corporate world, then structure is probably not your favorite thing on the planet. Still, you need at least a little bit of it, even as a freelancer. Some freelancers are able to get things done in their pajamas, at 3 AM, but most aren’t.
Treat freelancing like you would treat a real job. Work hard, consistently. Get out of the bed on time. Sure, you can take a break every now and again, but don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is a freelancer’s worst enemy.
This will give you enough maneuver space to keep your freedom, while getting things done. If you’re not working on a project, invest the time you’d spend working on a project to reach out to old clients or find new ones.
ABL = Always Be Looking
Yes ABL, and I’m not talking about the Asian Basketball League (actually know a few guys who’d played there … but I digress).
In the legendary film Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character writes the three famous letters; ABC, on a white board. If you remember “Always Be Closing” has since become a motto for businessmen and real estate agents alike.
As a freelancer, ABL – “Always Be Looking”, should be your personal motto. Always keep an eye out for new clients. No matter how overbooked you are at the moment (and that moment will, inevitably, come one day) reach out to people.
Cold-calling, emailing, forums, social media, newspaper ads – anything goes. You can never have too many clients. A freelancer’s biggest fear is having nothing to do, landing no gigs, starring at the computer screen absolutely hopeless. This is why you have to keep building and expanding your client base constantly. ABL.
Take Care of Your Health and Well Being
(Seems Simple, but very Important)
Freelancing can be great and it, undoubtedly, has many benefits. Naturally, it has its downsides too. Freelancers may not have to abide to a strict routine at all times, but most of us are sometimes swamped with work or too focused on making ends meet, reaching out to new clients because there is no work.
This can be very stressful. And a natural consequence of stress and working hard is isolation. Isolation, mood swings and the infamous burnout. As a freelancer, you mostly work alone. It starts unintentionally, but sooner or later you will isolate yourself.
Mood swings come with the stress of this job and the burnout is something that will happen to you, at least once. How can these be avoided?
Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise, take breaks, practice relaxation techniques, go outside, spend some time in nature – anything goes, as long as you manage to relax and unwind.
If you really want to become a freelancer, you will. It takes time and dedication, but you will get there. Work smart, work hard and take care of yourself.
Freedom is a luxury and you can obtain it. You too, like thousands of freelancers, can strike a balance between work and personal life. Hard work and discipline will never fail you.