Freelancers are self-employed individuals who lend their skills and knowledge to a variety of clients. Freelancers have the flexibility to pick the projects they want to work on and the clients they want to work for because they are not hired by a firm or tied to a single customer. Although some rent studio or office space, they mainly operate from home.
We no longer live in an era where 9-5 jobs are the absolute norm. From flexible timings and rising entrepreneurship, the face of the working world is constantly evolving. Today, people like to work at their own pace, create a niche for themselves, and more importantly, do their own thing. One aspect that has emerged from this ideology is freelancing. While freelancing has always been around, it was mostly those in the creative fields that adopted this way of working. However, an increasing number of people are attracted to this alternative and want to start freelancing in their area. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in freelancing, we’ve put up a list of actions you can take to assure a great start. Here you go:
How to Start Freelancing?
1. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Moving from a steady job to starting a freelance career is a big change. A change that involves a lot of big decisions. First, it’s important that you decide exactly what you want to be doing. Don’t just choose a field, choose a specialisation. For example, if your skill set is designing, narrow it down to particular designs like brochures or business cards. Narrowing things down will help you find the right clients. Second, decide which people or businesses you want as clients. Narrow these down to the type of companies that work well with your vision. For instance, you can choose to work for established companies and revamp designs for them or work for start-ups and design things from scratch.
If you are starting a freelancing career full-time, you must understand that this will be your only source of income. In fact, it’s best to have some savings to fall back on to tide you over for the first 3 – 6 months. When deciding on your charges, calculate all the expenses you incur, your home utilities, any investments you make and your usual day-to-day expenses. For industry-specific charges, ask around or look up websites to understand what the current rates are in your field. Once you’ve figured out how much you could make per project/per hour, you can decide how much work you need to take up on a monthly basis.
3. Time to Spread the Word
Now that you’ve decided on your niche, your clients and your charges, it is time to spread the word. Reach out to everyone you know, especially people you’ve worked with, they will most likely have contacts within the industry they can connect you with. If you don’t have any previous experience, don’t fret. Contact everyone you know. Your old school acquaintances, your relatives, everyone on your contact list. Draft a short explanatory message on how you are starting a freelance career and would love for them to spread the word. Attach your phone number and email ID as well to get the ball rolling. Another way you can reach out to people is through social media. Put up stories, posts, etc. Also, look for groups and communities in your field.
4. Sign Up Everywhere
One great aspect of freelancing in the 21st century is the array of platforms available to you to get freelance jobs. Websites like Odesk, LocalMart, Guru, Freelancer, Angie’s List, Upwork, and Fiverr let you create a profile on their websites and display them to people looking to get freelance work done. To make your profile more attractive here, update your profile on LinkedIn with relevant experience you’ve had. Also, create your own website with details on what you offer, examples of your work, and customer testimonials (if any).
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5. Make It Official
One of the biggest pain points for freelancers is payment issues. A lot of vendors claim the final product is not what they wanted and make you rework it and hold up payments. To avoid this, make sure both you and your client sign a contract which includes points like guidelines, feedback, rework, deadlines, and payment. This way, your association with your client is fool-proof and smooth. You can either hire a lawyer for your contracts or use services like Shake for legal contracts. If it is your clients who are writing up the contract, make sure you clarify the parts about payments and feedback before signing it.
6. Balancing Time and Books
While being your own boss is refreshing, it brings in certain additional responsibilities like accounting and management. This may seem overwhelming at first, especially at the end of the month when you finish your freelance work and are left to balance your accounts. Fortunately for you, this is the 21st century, and there is an app or two for everything. Looking to manage your tasks and timelines well? Try Timely, Harvest, Asana, and Trello to keep track of everything you do. For accounting and balancing the books, try Wave, Quickbooks, AND.CO, Xero, and Freshbooks
7. Keep Learning
You will often find yourself so immersed in work that you get disconnected from your field. This will hinder your growth. When you work in a company, you are constantly introduced to new technology and changes in your field. While freelancing you will have to actively take the time out to keep up this. You can sign up for newsletters, set alerts for any news in your field, or even subscribe to blogs and magazines. Set an hour aside every week and dedicate it to learning more about your field. This will only help better your work and lead to success.
The road to a successful career in freelancing is not easy. But, follow these steps with determination, and before you know it, you will be at the top of your game!
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