How to Kick-start Your Career as a Freelancer
So, you want to become a freelancer. You’ve heard the rosy stories, seen the real-life examples of people kicking ass as freelancers and making thousands of dollars a month, and now you want in. Well, the good news is that, if done right, freelancing can be a fairly lucrative endeavor. The bad news is that it could also totally blow up in your face if not done right. Just before you quit your job and set out to be your own boss, here is a checklist of things to consider.
Is It Really the Right Thing for You?
This is an important question to ask and should ideally be the very first one you ask. Freelancing has something of a romantic tinge to it. Many people want to be freelancers because they’re in love with the idea of freelancing. However, as many have found out soon after starting, it isn’t for everyone.
Apart from the initial difficulties you will inevitably face as a freelancer, you also need to develop certain mindsets for success if you don’t already have them. These include the ability to set clear and concise goals and stick to them, the ability to create a schedule and stick to it, and networking skills, among many others.
Freelancing is as much as a hustle as any other field. If you go into it with nothing but dollars on your mind, you’ll be in for a rude awakening. Do as much research as you can on the pros and cons of being a freelancer before you get started then make the decision. Let’s assume you’ve already done all of that and are still determined to be a freelancer. Are you ready? Great — let’s go.
What Are You Good at?
As a freelancer, you’re selling something: your skills. Based on how good those skills are, how good of a salesperson you are, and how much demand for those skills there actually is, you’ll find it easy or difficult to sell them. However, that doesn’t matter half as much as actually knowing what your skills are.
Start by figuring out what your technical skills are, such as programmer, writer, designer, and so on. These ones are the easy ones to figure out because they have much to do with your credentials. Once you’re done, you can get to the harder part: figuring out what your soft skills are. These include how you handle situations in general. Are you good with a team? Do you have trouble meeting deadlines? Can you work independently without supervision? You get the gist.
There are plenty of online assessment tests that can help you with this. Some are free while others are paid. They can tell you everything from your personality type to your career skills. Take advantage of them and get yourself a proper personal profile. This is something you’ll maintain over the course of your career because your skills, both soft and hard, will keep growing and improving.
Get an Online Presence
We live in the digital age. With a digital presence, you can get yourself and your brand known around the world. Without it, you’re doomed to fail before you even start. Start with social media. Get a profile on all the major social media platforms you think will make for great networking opportunities. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are staples and you can cherry pick with the rest.
It doesn’t end there, however. You need to go deeper. There are platforms specific to the field you’re in. These include gig sites like QuiGig.com and Upwork. These places allow you to engage directly with other freelancers and potential clients and even work for pay!
The key at this point, however, is to focus on building your personal brand. You should have a consistent and coherent brand across your entire digital presence, which means all your profiles, social media and otherwise, should reflect what you do for a living.
Finally, you should consider having your own website. Not only does this give you more credibility, but it also allows you to have a sort of headquarters where you can showcase your work more freely.
Master the Art of Networking
Networking is a bit of a buzzword, honestly, and it’s for a good reason. The power of networking simply cannot be overstated. Networking is pretty much you sending good vibes out to the universe and the universe sending you even better vibes in return.
Start with your colleagues, friends, and family as this is the easiest place to start. Try to reduce whatever it is you offer into a short and succinct message; a so-called ‟elevator pitch.” That makes it clearer for both you and the client and also allows you to pitch your ideas to people on a tight schedule.
Learn Your Own Value
One of the thornier aspects of networking is that most beginners don’t know how to charge for their services. You don’t want to be too expensive starting out. However, you also don’t want to be the discount store or be seen as one.
Generally, start by charging what similar freelancers are charging, factoring in such things as your location, experience, and demand into the price. Also, despite the short-term loss of clients, let go of any client that does not want to appreciate the work you do or its value. You’re ultimately a business that needs to sustain itself, and that won’t happen if you have stingy clients. Do make sure the quality of your work matches the price tag.
Freelancing takes a lot of hard work, patience, and discipline. However, if you persist, it can be one of the most rewarding and most satisfying ventures you’ll ever make. It can even grow into a full-fledged business that becomes bigger than you. Just dig in, keep your head down, and keep going.