How to become and start your career as a freelancer?
In this era where online businesses are growing at a fast and enormous pace, opportunities for skilled people in various industries from all around the world also increase proportionally. According to some data, nearly 16 million Americans freelance in 2019 either full-time or part-time. Whether individuals or a group of individuals forming a team, people who work online contribute significantly to the economy of some nations, such as Pakistan.
Pakistan generates $1 billion in revenue from freelancers. It is a significant sum for a country of this stature. In addition, Pakistan has the world's third-largest number of individuals employed as internet freelancers. With statistics like these, it's critical to be prepared to freelance and freelance successfully.
- Who is a freelancer?
- How to be a freelancer?
- Pros and cons of freelancing
- Trait and Characteristic of a freelancer
Who is a freelancer?
You can say a freelancer is a worker or a team of workers who offer service for their clients without having any binding commitments like a 9 to 5 job. They are usually paid as soon as they finish working on a project. It is also common for freelancers to work for multiple clients all at once.
But some contracts restrict the freelancer from working for someone else as long as the project has not been completed. The majority of freelancers are experts in one or more fields. For example, graphic design, web design, voice-overs, content writing, video editing, animation, SEO, software development, WordPress management, game development, digital marketing, and other freelance professions are among the most popular online.
How to be a freelancer?
To succeed in the online world, you need to harness your skills and try to give your best to create a good impression on your clients. If they like your work, they will come back and hire you for more projects. Here are the tips to become a freelancer.
Start with why you want to become a freelancer?
Are you thinking of quitting your regular 9 to 5 job, switching to freelancing as a sole source of your income, and becoming self-employed? Or are you thinking of freelancing as a side hustle? Answering these questions will make you develop a clear indication of whether you should invest your time in freelancing and planning for the long run. Most people start freelancing as a side hustle, and when they like what they do and could make a good future from it, switch to freelancing full time.
Assess your skills
Know what skills you already have and start from there. You probably have the skills you learn from your previous jobs, and so that would be an easy choice to start with. If you're good at it, clients are willing to pay a good amount for that work. This can be in multiple areas, whether web design, software development, photography, etc. In some areas like designing, which require creativity and need specific software like Adobe Photoshop, Figma, Sketch, and other design software. Most clients would prefer to hire someone else rather than learn how to do it themselves.
Start freelancing using your hobbies and self-taught skills
You've probably already had those skills you learned in your free time, and you have always wanted a job that requires these skills. Now is the time to start doing it. If you love what you do, you'll most likely add creativity to work, and clients will like to hire you again and again. For example, graphic designing requires much creativity, like taking advantage of negative spaces and creating amazing logos, icons, banners, etc.
Narrow down your skills
When you are new to the freelancing world, you are tempted to take on every project from any niches that come your way. Yes, your work will be accepted, and you will get paid, but doing this will not help you in the long run, and you will end up doing more work and getting average pay.
This is because instead of polishing your skills in one area, your time is spent on doing other assignments. In addition, clients will be less likely to respect your work because each work is given less time and is not up to the industry standard.
Also, you will miss out on a chance to improve on your skills, preventing you from landing in a high-paying big project which requires expert-level skills. Decide your niche according to your strength and interest and improve on that.
Choose your niche wisely
In freelancing, competition is a good thing. It means clients are paying very high for these particular skills. Web designing, web development, software development, 2d, and 3d animations are very demanding in the digital era. Clients are willing to pay a good amount to freelancers having these skills.
You may already have the skills, but if there is no one to pay you for these skills, you will not make a good income from them. So try to research and list down the skills you already have. If the first skill cannot get you much work, try your second, third, and so on until you find one that people are willing to pay for.
Understand what the clients are looking for
Before starting with your work, understand why the client has hired you. Of course, most of the time, the client hires you because he doesn't have the skills. But you should always pay attention to what the client's particular requirement is. If the client gets what you are expected from, then you will get good feedback and increase your portfolio ratings.
Turn your service into a solution
When approaching a potential client, tell them that your work will solve a problem they have been having. Tell them that your work will provide them the service they need.
Many strategies can price your service. For example, you can charge your client at an hourly rate. With this, you need a time tracker to track your sitting hours. Then, there is another strategy where you and the client have agreed on a fixed price to be paid after the project is done.
Finally, another strategy where the amount to be paid to the freelancer is based on the value of the work to the client and not the amount of work you did. When pricing your service, you should look at the market and how others are pricing their service for that particular work. In addition, time and amount of work to be done are important criteria to be considered when pricing your service.
Choose the name of your freelancing business
An important thing that you should do is to choose a name for your freelancing business. The name should be related to your work. Like, if you are teaching people to become freelancers, then your name should be "Freelancing School." Research a name before choosing one because it may have already been used and will create confusion.
Create a portfolio to showcase your skills
Clients will be able to tell how trustworthy you are by looking at your portfolio, and they will be able to trust you with their job. It's what they use to form their first impressions of your job history. So it would help if you built that trust.
For example, you can showcase your past work for previous clients and their reviews on your performance. This is like evidence to show that you have produced good results in the past. Also, showcase your work samples, so they will know what they are looking for.
In case you've never worked for anyone before, try working for free so that you can build your portfolio. Doing this will help build your portfolio, and the clients who get your service for free may turn to customers who pay and get exposure. Build your website using your business name to display your portfolio.
Develop a strategy to finding clients
You can never build your portfolio without finding clients. One strategy is to ask your friends if they need help with any work related to your acquired skills. Secondly, you can join social media groups and communities to solve each other's problems at an agreed price rate. Some companies come to these social media groups to hire freelancers suitable for their work.
The good thing about this is that there is no middle man involved, and the freelancer gets the whole amount paid by the client. Also, the good thing here is that you build a relationship with the clients, and you can communicate freely, and they know more about you and you about them. This helps you keep your clients for a longer time, and you will not run out of assignments.
Thirdly, you can join freelancer job platforms like Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Fiverr. These sites offer freelancers from all over the world the platform to create an account and display their skills and portfolio. These websites provide a pool of talents in different categories and niches. Businesses come to these sites and search for suitable talents. On Fiverr, the business pays for the work done by the freelancer at a fixed price. The platform charges 2% extra from the client as a service charge and takes away 1% of the amount the freelancer receives as a currency conversion charge.
Upwork is one of the oldest platforms for freelancers. It used to be free. But now created a payment structure where they charge $0.15 to $0.90 per job you bid on. There are new and popular jobs sites that freelancers can set up their accounts on.
Pros and cons of freelancing
Freelancing is not always a simple task. On the contrary, they can be as stressful as any other sort of job in some circumstances. As a result, you must be informed of the benefits and drawbacks of working independently.
You have complete discretion over the kind of assignments you choose to work on. Additionally, you have the option of agreeing or disagreeing with the payment price. Thus, you have control to decide what type of assignments you want to work with. You also have the choice to agree or disagree with the payment price. For example, you may reject work that takes a long time and costs too much for the price.
You have the privilege of working from the comfort of your home when the work can be done online or if the work doesn't require any physical interactions.
Another advantage is that you have flexible time to do your work as long as you complete it within the deadline time specified by the client. You can work for only 2 hours a day or work full 8 hours a day; the choice is yours.
The disadvantage of freelancing is that you have to be completely dependent on your own. No workmates will give advice and no leader to help you with any difficulty if you do freelance. You have to be your boss and leader. You have to invest in all the gadgets and instruments required for your freelance work.
With freelance, there is no guarantee that you will receive work all the time. Some months you get a lot of work, while in some months you struggle to find work. You may need to rely on a long-term contract with a client, and if that client decides to pull off the contract, you are left with no work for days until you find another one.
Trait and Characteristic of a freelancer
Always adhere to the timeline. This may be accomplished by updating your work daily such that no work is leftover from the previous day. Anything may happen on the last day, whether it's a technical or human error. As a result, you should update your work frequently to avoid any difficulties.
Persistence is crucial at any time, but it's more important when you're just starting as a freelancer and attempting to get employment. Because to add to your portfolio, you should work, work and work. So you should never give up, whether finding work or completing a task.
Always be confident and try to be aggressive in chasing clients, and never be afraid to tell them the skills and the quality of service you can offer. This is how successful freelancers market their skills.
If you think you have the aim to be a freelancer, then start now. It is not hard to start freelancing, especially in this era where many freelance portals are available to help you get started. You can start by improving the skills you already have and finding a social media group or community where freelancers showcase their skills to get work.
About the author
Dennis Hoinkis has been working as a web developer and in online marketing since 1998. After building up a marketing agency and the exit in 2013, he consulted international groups as a freelance consultant. Since 2020, he and his team now offer staffing services in this field.
Dennis Hoinkis CEO, FSOM Group Corp.