When I started working as a freelancer, the idea of working from home was still unpopular, especially by most corporate professionals. In fact, some companies don’t see freelancers as professionals, but as sideliners. Some would even ask, “But what’s your actual main job?” like what I was doing wasn’t considered a proper job at all. Some people would even ask, “How do you earn money working from home?” or “Is that even legitimate?”
Long story short, not a lot of people saw it as a great opportunity in the same way it is perceived now. As more and more freelancers started sharing their success, and as more and more companies become more open to hiring remote employees, the trend has grown steadily and is now considered a growing industry.
As more people are discovering the beauty of working from home, the number of people taking on this opportunity has also grown. But not everyone gets to have a proper start to their freelance career. Some would struggle getting hired, while a few others doesn’t know how to do it properly.
So if you are looking for some handy tips from someone who has been in the industry for years, you are in luck. Here, I have listed seven useful guides on how you can start strong as you start your journey as a freelancer.
1. Do a skills audit.
What skills do you have that you can sell online? Understanding your own skills is important as this will allow you to choose a freelancing specialization that’s suited for you. Are you good with creating logos, are you a skilled at painting or sketching? Can you create quality content for marketing? Do you have a suave voice for recording? Or maybe you have a sharp hearing that’s perfect for transcription?
The truth is there is a lot of work available online for you to earn money from. But before you decide on what your niche will be, it’s important that you first understand what you are capable of handling or what you can learn to do. This helps you better market your services to the right people through the right platform.
2. Invest in your passion.
What are you passionate about? Sometimes, your motivation to achieve something can be fueled by your passion towards it. Let me give you a few examples: I have friends who love collecting and using various makeup pieces, lipsticks, foundation, eye shadows, you name it, she has it. One of those friends of mine turned that passion into a business by selling makeup products online, while another one chose to start a makeup tutorial channel on YouTube. They’ve been raking in money since. Even my sister who has been so intent on keeping everyone’s eyebrows on fleek, has started her own business at home as an eyebrow artist.
As for me, I enjoy writing articles of different sorts, that’s why I decided to sell my writing skills online via Upwork. I also have former officemates who were skilled with graphics and web design, and because they enjoyed doing it, they have now started their own web design businesses, earning more money than they ever did from working in the office. Whatever you enjoy doing, it can be something that is worth earning money from. So think about how you can use that passion of yours to start making a living out of it.
3. Choose the right platform for your freelancing career.
Freelancing doesn’t have to be purely based online. You can market your skills both online or offline. This is why it’s important that you consider where and how you can promote your career or your business properly. Many skills can be marketed properly both online or offline, such as web designing, graphic designing, accounting, photography, hair and makeup services, legal services and many more. It’s a matter of using your contacts properly, both online and offline.
Online, you can easily promote your skills on various platforms such as freelancing and job marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, and more. You can also create your own website and professional page on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter to promote your work. You can also join other industry-specific websites such as Stack Overflow, Behance, Flickr, WordPress, and more.
For offline promotions, you can market your skills by contacting friends or business owners who may be looking for your skills. Word of mouth can do a lot to getting your business closer to the right clients. You can also join conferences and trade shows where you can expand your professional network and meet more people in your industry.
4. Start your freelance career from the ground up.
If you have no experience at all when it comes to working remote, then it’s about time that you learn a lot about it. Before you can start a career as a freelancer, you need to establish a strong professional background first. Many people who try to start a career online and fail are usually those who haven’t invested a lot of time building their professional profile.
Think about it this way, as a buyer, what do you usually do before buying a product or a service? You do your research about it first, right? You check the features of the product, where it is coming from, what you can get out of it and is it worth your money? You don’t just click on the first thing you see first and buy it that moment. You investigate first.
The same thing applies to people hiring freelancers. Once you become a freelancer, you are practically a seller. But instead of selling products, you are selling your services. And to be able to sell your services properly, you need to establish a strong professional background, build a portfolio to back your expertise and show proof that you can “walk the talk”. It’s easy for you to say that, “I am good at this, I am good at that,” but when someone asks for proof, can you provide one? This is why as a beginner, you should start by learning a lot about the industry you are getting yourself into.
Sign up for trainings, start a portfolio, and boost your online presence as a professional. This way, once a client sees your profile, they will learn about your competencies and be able to decide if hiring you will bring value to their business.
5. Don’t expect a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme.
Freelancing is not a scheme, nor a scam. IT IS WORK. That’s why we sometimes call it “work-from-home” or “freelance work”. You are going to work for the money you will be earning. It is a legit way of earning money. You will be working for honest people, organizations or corporations, depending on which one hires you.
But, keep in mind that there are still people out there who will take advantage of aspiring freelancers who are looking for work, so that they can earn money quickly, but unfairly. So be cautious. If a job opportunity sounds too good to be true, especially for beginners, never bite into it immediately. Do your research first and learn to ask the right questions and the right people.
If you need support, there are lots of online forums and social media groups that provide emotional and professional support. Make the most of your internet access to learn anything and everything about any company before applying for a job post or accepting a job invitation.
6. Say no to self doubt.
I can’t tell you how many times in my whole life I have heard this inner voice asking me so many questions, trying to stop me from doing things that I know I can. There will always be times when you will doubt yourself. It is a part of the challenge. Before you ever push yourself to step outside your comfort zone, you will have to answer many self-doubting questions of ‘what-ifs’.
What if I fail?
What if it’s not meant for me?
What if it doesn’t work out?
If you ever get to a point when you start asking yourself these questions, think about the great possibilities you will be missing out instead if you don’t start working on your freelance career. When I was just starting as a freelancer, I never knew then that I’d be in this industry for this long. That I’d be giving myself and my family the comfortable life that we have now. That I’d have a skill that is now sought after by many businesses and professionals.
If I did not push forward and start freelancing, I wouldn’t have what I have now. I would not have these great freelancing experiences and knowledge to share. But because I got rid of my self doubt, here I am now. Seven years into freelancing and still thriving as a freelance writer and content manager.
So NEVER let self doubt stop you from pursuing your passion and your dreams.
7. Remember that hard work pays off.
You will only realize the value of hard work once you experience it first hand. Ever since I was young, I have always valued hard work because I have seen how my parents worked day in and out to put food on the table. We were not a family of means, so to make a living, my father has to get his hands dirty (literally), fixing cars, air conditioners and refrigerators. And to make our small home a comfortable place to stay in for all seven of us in the family, my mother has to work hard to keep the house clean and in order, raise us all five kids into the healthy people that we are now and to make sure that every cent that my father earns is spent wisely.
My parents taught me the value of hard work in the most practical manner — by being the good example that they are. We might not be financially rich, but our childhood was filled with various challenges and experiences that made us realize that working hard for what you want is one of the greatest means towards success.
Before achieving the success that I have now as a freelancer, I worked 2 to 3 jobs. Apart from my day job for a corporate company, I handled two other part time jobs as a freelancer. Not to mention that I also had a 2-year old to take care of. It was hard to juggle different tasks, but eventually, it paid off and I had the chance to transition from being an office worker to a freelancer.
Ever since I freelanced full time, I still had to work hard, having to juggle tasks as a mom and as a writer/editor for two clients. Slowly, I made this setup work to my advantage and was able to increase my value as a freelancer. I learned a lot of new skills from taking on various tasks that I never had the chance to do before and from there, I grew my skill set and enhanced my chances of getting hired by offering more than just writing. Now, I am no longer just a content writer. I now handle tasks handled by content managers, virtual assistants, researchers, editors, customer support specialists, graphic designers, social media managers, content marketers and team leaders.
Working as a freelancer is not as easy as people might think. It’s not a bum’s work. It requires three things: hard work, determination and knowledge. The truth is, to be successful in whatever career, be it in the freelancing industry or anywhere else, you need all those three. So if you want to get a good start on your career as a freelancer, see to it that you are aware of what you can do, follow your passion, start on the right platform, work your way up, and do your research.
Do you have other tips and best practices when it comes to starting a freelance career properly? Share them on the comment section below.