Some people are saying that freelancing is the career style of the future. As a result, many people are wondering how to be a freelancer.
And the numbers show that freelancing is a solid idea.
A study from UpWork and Freelancers Union shows that in the next decade, more than half of America’s workforce will do freelance work. And 47% of millennials are already doing it.
Here are some more interesting findings from the study:
More and more people are finding that freelancing brings incredible flexibility, freedom, and the ability to earn some extra cash.
It’s also worth noting the downsides, though. Many freelancers say the biggest obstacles are finding work, keeping a steady and predictable income, and dealing with the lack of benefits they used to have when they worked for an employer.
While it’s true that finding clients and making steady income can be tough, it’s far from impossible.
And we’re here to help. I’ll show you an arsenal of tips and tactics to find work in different freelancing fields.
In this chapter, we’ll discuss how to become a freelancer. We’ll look at some key considerations for starting a business, including whether freelance marketplaces are really worth it. We’ll also look at some of the most popular services, including writing, photography, design, web development and marketing.
Learning how to be a freelancer is a lot of work.
That’s why we made a handy checklist to make sure you’re prepared.
|Equipment & Environment
|Time Management & Productivity
Let’s go over the basics of being a freelancer and unpack a few of these elements.
In short, yes.
At the very least, freelance marketplaces are good stepping stones to help build your client base and experience.
The biggest benefit is that they can help you find clients quicker than if you’re on your own.
They also ensure that you get paid on-time – no hassle, no chasing down clients for money.
That means you don’t have to deal with writing statements of work (SOWs) or contracts. (We’ll cover these soon). You also don’t need to worry about getting stiffed by clients who don’t want to pay you. This means that freelance marketplaces are great if you’re still learning how to be a freelancer in your field.
Here’s a big list of some top freelance marketplaces:
This is an important lesson for those who are learning how to freelance:
Never do work without a written agreement that you’ve both approved.
If something happens and you need to change the agreement, write and sign an updated version.
This is critical to protect you in case of any misunderstanding or foul play.
Statements of work (SOWs) and contracts should include:
Here’s an example of a general SOW:
Read more about how to write them.
If you’re flying solo to do your work, you’ll want to set up an easy payment system.
Make sure you write an invoice for every single thing you deliver. Every. Single. Thing.
You can set the terms with your client.
Here are some ways to collect payment:
Landing your first freelance job can be a major struggle. This might continue for a few months until you learn the ropes of how to be an online freelancer and your business gains momentum.
Make sure you take notes, ask questions, listen, and provide references – and even some free work if you need to. Free work can help you build a portfolio and rack up some happy customers fast.
[highlight]Note: Watch out for bad freelancing clients. While you can’t always avoid communication issues, there are obvious warning signs to look out for. You may have a tough time working for them if they micromanage, frequently question your approach, or think they know a better way to complete the task they employed you for.[/highlight]
Now let’s get into how to be a freelancer within certain niches.
If you’ve always had a knack for explaining things and putting ideas into words, writing may be a good option for you. Let’s take a look at how to become a freelance writer.
Freelance writing opportunities are diverse and plentiful, too.
There are three main categories you can cover:
Inside these categories, you can write all kinds of things, like:
Get clear on the bare essentials you need to get started, which include:
[highlight]If you’re like me, you’ll also need several spiral notebooks for outlining and drafting. Or maybe it’s a giant whiteboard. Just make sure you have whatever materials you need to let your creativity and critical thinking skills flow.[/highlight]
Here are a few resources to get momentum.
If you’re still learning how to be a freelancer in the writing industry, search for gigs at these websites:
Join a few ‘content writer’ and ‘freelance writer’ groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Be an active participant and keep an eye out for any opportunity that might crop up.
This gives you an author byline that helps you get noticed. Say you want to write finance blog posts. Search for these jobs on Google by typing things like:
Follow Twitter accounts like:
This option will have more structure and opportunities, as well as the potential for better pay and training on how to be a freelance writer.
Look for content agencies that are hiring, like:
If you love capturing life’s little moments on camera, you might want to start your own freelance photography business.
To get started as a freelance photographer, you need to have the right equipment, a good understanding of photo editing software, and passion for a specific genre of photography.
Here are a few things you’ll need.
You may be wondering what sort of camera you should buy.
It makes sense to put lenses at the top of your budget list.
That’s because the quality of the lens has the greatest impact on the quality of the photos you take with any DSLR you use.
If you want a high-quality starter lens for the most affordable price, consider prime lenses (those with a fixed focal length).
Perhaps the most important accessory is the tripod. It will provide you with extra stability as you seek the perfect angle.
Tripods come in all sizes, shapes, and prices.
A good value-for-money option is Manfrotto MKBFRA4-BH.
Reflectors are another camera accessory you may find useful. They offer a quick and affordable way to brighten up your images.
A quality option is Selens 5-in-1 Handle 43 Inch.
If you’ve never edited photos before, start with Lightroom as it’s much easier to use than Photoshop.
Not only does Lightroom allow you to edit your images, it also provides a great system for organizing your images using stars, color coding, and keywords.
In addition, you can spruce up your photo editing skills by taking a course or two.
A couple good ones are:
Finding and choosing a photography genre can be challenging. And with so many people entering the industry, it’s easy to get thrown off course by what others are doing.
In such a scenario, the best thing to do is take a step back from everyone else and be yourself. Follow what inspires you.
Examples of photography genres include:
Once you pick a genre, you can start honing your style by shooting daily.
Here are a few ways to kickstart your freelance business.
These websites might make it easier to make money online from home:
List your work in marketplaces so that you never depend too much on a single client for livelihood.
The best thing about this approach is that you can establish a loyal clientele if you receive positive reviews on a regular basis.
Here’s a list of marketplaces worth exploring:
Try companies that need photographers, such as:
If you’ve always had a good eye for design, a career in freelance design may be a worthwhile option to explore.
Depending on your design niche, you might be working on a product image, a company logo, or a storyboard that showcases the key frames of a commercial.
Let’s go over freelance design specialties and what you’ll need to build a successful freelance design business as a way to make money from home.
Design is applied to many areas, so there are several types of design specialities. Before we look at how to be a freelancer in the design industry, consider what your specialty will be.
The most popular ones are:
Pick a speciality that best resonates with your skills to get started.
In general, you should have access to the Adobe Creative Cloud (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.) to work as a freelance web designer.
As you learn the basics of how to be a freelancer, it’s important that you build up your portfolio and showcase your work. Your design portfolio should reflect your skills, personality, genre and experience.
If you prefer a dynamic website, I recommend Squarespace. It has its own portfolio website builder.
Alternatively, you could host your design portfolio on a social media website.
Hundreds of freelance design job websites exist on the internet, and the quality certainly varies.
To help you get started, here are a few great websites for freelance designers:
In addition, you can sell your designs in general marketplaces like DesignCrowd, as well as in speciality marketplaces like CafePress and Threadless. This is a great option for you if you’re still learning how to be a freelancer and if you haven’t yet found regular clients.
If you’re familiar with the basics of coding, you can become a freelance web developer.
The demand for web development specialists today far exceeds the supply.
And it’s not going to sink unless someone takes down the internet.
If you’re fairly new to coding, you can learn a thing or two from these resources:
[highlight]At a minimum, you should learn CSS and HTML. Learning PHP basics can also be helpful, especially if you’ll be working with platforms like WordPress that are coded in PHP. You don’t need to become a coding expert, but having good knowledge of the basics will help you get by.[/highlight]
As you learn how to be a freelancer in the web development space, it’s important to have someone who can answer your questions about the small, fiddling things about programming.
So look around!
Try finding a mentor who can help you in this process. Their guidance can make all the difference when you’re stuck on a problem and feel like quitting.
Check out tech events near you where you can network with people and learn more about web development.
A site called Meetup helps people host hundreds of coding meetings in cities and regions around the world.
If you’re starting fresh, maybe you’re wondering where exactly these web development projects get listed.
Maybe you’re stuck checking the same old job listings that haven’t been updated in a month.
Good news is, there are several resources out there that can help you find freelance web development gigs, fast!
Here are some worthy of your attention:
Makes it simple to discover full-time and/or part-time gigs. The majority of the gigs posted to this website are related to design and web development.
As the name implies, this is a website where you can find web development jobs that you can do from the comfort of your home.
A global nonprofit dedicated to helping women succeed in technology careers. It also has a job board, where most listings pertain to web development and/or software engineering.
If you have a talent for showcasing brands in a positive light and know how to conduct market research, you may be cut out for a career in freelance marketing. Let’s look at how to be a freelancer in the marketing industry.
The best part of this niche is that businesses all over the world constantly require great freelance marketers.
Some quick facts:
And somebody has to cater to these needs. That’s where you come in.
Get started by choosing an area (because you need to be more specific than just freelance marketer). Ideally, you’d earn money online through:
Freelance internet marketers engage in various activities in the digital space, including:
Depending on your knowledge and skills, you can pick one or a combination of these activities to offer as a service.
For example, if you’ve experience of promoting an online store, you can place ecommerce marketing at the top of the list of services you offer. Likewise, if you have good relationships with influencers, content marketing could be a good option for you.
Social Media Management
If you’ve had success running a Twitter account or know what it takes to get followers on Instagram, you might want to give a thought to social media management.
A freelance social media manager creates and manages all social network accounts of his/her customers.
Other tasks clients could expect you to perform:
You don’t need to know everything on the list, but you should be able to come up with a good overall strategy.
And while you’re learning how to be a freelance marketer, consider specializing in a specific platform.
There are several individuals out there who can do social media management, but there aren’t many who can get maximum shares on Facebook, or build up an engaged following on LinkedIn.
Consider the platform you’ve had the most success with, and promote that as your service.
If you want to make money online from home as a freelance marketer, here are the best places to find jobs.