How to become a freelancer Online (and land your first client)
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters
Originally Posted On: https://francanete.com/how-to-become-a-freelancer/
I used to daydream about being my own boss when I was working from my cubicle 9 years ago.
The truth is that I never took the step until I got fired. That was my painful initiation into entrepreneurship.
You don’t need to follow that path if you want to start your entrepreneurial career, for example, by becoming a freelancer.
Many of us have talents or things we enjoy, learning how to monetize such things and make a living from them could be easier than you thought.
I know. It’s very easy to get used to a salary at the end of the month and fear any deviation from this path may result in failure or financial ruin.
So here is the big question: How can I start my freelancing career without giving up everything?
Of course you can.
You are sat on a gold mine!
Think about your skills, knowledge and experience. I know you underestimate those things because they are so natural to you.
But out there is a lot of people struggling with problems that you can solve for them
Even if you can solve a little problem you can get started, and from there, you can scale it.
What this means is that if you are skilled in an area, you can start you can become a freelancer online and start growing your business on the side while still working in your day job.
If you are skilled in an area, you can quit your job and start your own #freelancing business, simply by using your knowledge to solve other people’s problems. Here is how you can become a freelancer…CLICK TO TWEET
If that sounds too good to be true, you should know that there are tens of millions of freelancers all over the globe.
These are people just like you, with skills in many areas, who are making money online helping people from all over the world.
In this article, I’ll show you step by step how you can start freelancing with no previous experience.
- How to transform your knowledge and skills into a service you can offer online.
- How to overcome that feeling of fear and anxiety of getting your first client.
- How to stand out of the crowd.
- How to grow your business.
Along with this article, you’ll be able to download my free guide on “How To Find An online business idea That You Can Start On The Side”. Use this guide to begin your freelancing journey and combine it with the valuable tips and strategies you read in this article for maximum impact.
Before looking at the actual steps you need to take in order to set your freelancing business in motion, I want to show you why this is a great time to start freelancing.
- The freelance economy is growing at an astounding pace: according to a report released by Betterment back in 2018, 33% of US workers are freelancers, this number is expected to grow to over 40% by the end of 2020. The same goes true in the UK, Canada, Australia, and other developed countries.
- Many regular jobs became obsolete because of tech, however, new jobs are emerging every year, jobs that require digital skills and online interaction.
- Freelancers are making more money than regular employers: in some industries, you can earn more as a freelancer than as working at a physical location.
- Flexibility, as a freelancer you get to work less and set up your own working hours, which leaves you more time for other important tasks and personal hobbies.
- More and more companies are focusing on freelancers based on projects rather than rely on long term employees.
- Many people who already have a job use freelancing as a side hustle.
- And finally, because you deserve an independent source of income and design the life of your dreams!
Before even thinking of making money with freelancing, it is important to know how to transform your skills and knowledge acquired during the years into a service you can offer.
And even more importantly, a service that your market will be willing to pay for!
At this point, you need to properly assess what you’re good at.
Are you good at writing content, SEO, PPC, coding or CMS management? Are you skilled in teaching English, creating logos or putting up beautiful PPT presentations?
Maybe you’re good with excel or you have skills in making video presentations or voice-over recordings. Whatever you’re good at, know that you can easily find people willing to pay you for your services.
Notice that I am not just talking about technical skills and knowledge like engineering or something like that. In my step-by-step guide on finding a profitable business idea, I show you how Patrick has built a profitable online business over the topic: bar games. I am serious.
A great place to start your research is Fiverr.com. This extended marketplace allows people to offer any kind of service they can think of to people willing to buy these services.
You can start here and do some research to see what people are offering or requesting. However, if you’re pretty good at something, it is time to get ready to create your own service.
Start by developing a portfolio that contains samples of your work. Next, join websites, platforms and professional organizations that serve your field. You can find a lot of communities and groups on social media platforms that cater to professionals and freelancers alike.
Of course, if you don’t know where to start, simply try providing certain services you might be good at, such as ghostwriting, managing social media profiles, or data entry.
Whatever you do, don’t worry and get disappointed if you don’t have success all of a sudden. Freelancing is all about persisting and never give up. In time, you’ll grow up your skills and discover how to properly talk to your customers.
I cannot emphasise enough about digging into your skills and specific knowledge. What you consider just a simple ability other people could be willing to pay for it.
Let me show you a quick example. I have deep knowledge of LinkedIn, just because I used it a lot to generate clients for my consulting business.
The thing is that I was always ignoring that skill, just because I was so natural at it. Until I publish a piece of content explaining how I was using LinkedIn and a ton of people like it.
What happened next was so interesting. People started to ask me if could help them with their LinkedIn strategy. That was a natural way of how I became a freelancer.
Yes, you can start your freelance business by simply sharing your knowledge and skills with other people.
Quick tip here, show up regularly, a lot of people get frustrated because they have published a couple of blog posts and share it on Twitter and after a while, nobody came back.
This is a long-distance run. Be patient and keep your eyes open.
While you can definitely create your own website and find customers using SEO and paid advertising, I strongly advise you against this route.
This route is extremely complicated and it requires a lot of effort from your part. Additionally, it requires a huge upfront investment cost.
Don’t get me wrong, SEO and paid advertising could work really well, but just at certain stages, definitely, not at the beginning.
Here are instead, some simple strategies that will help you get started and gain some traction.
Start with your network
It may sound a bit obvious but starting from your own network is the simplest way to promote your new freelance business.
Additionally, you will get some valuable feedback that you can use to tweak your offer.
IMPORTANT: When I say “your network” I don’t mean your family and close friends.
Those are people care about you and they won’t tell you the painful truth, which is exactly what you need to keep advancing and craft a freelance service that people actually want to pay for.
Instead, you can to your professional network, ex co-workers, people that you knew at an event or even review your LinkedIn connections
The important thing at this point is promoting and letting people know that you have started freelancing and what are your services.
Platforms and marketplace for freelancers
The easiest route for becoming a successful freelancer is to work on a platform that puts together freelancers with clients.
For example, if you have PPC, SEO, digital marketing, content writing or coding experience, you can start using People Per Hour.
This UK-based network is very professional and allows you to find clients with ease, while at the same time enabling clients to find you.
Another excellent platform for freelancers is Upwork, a huge platform that connects freelancers and clients.
You can start taking gigs a low price and gain a good bunch of great reviews and promote your services just in the right place.
Reddit, Quora and specialized forums
When you are starting, promotion is everything. Is hard, but be patient because that’s the foundation of a successful freelancing career.
You need to build a name, and even more importantly, you need to show to your market that you are an expert in the field.
An amazing way to do this posting your content on places like Quora, Reddit and other specialized forums that apply to your industry.
If you show up regularly sharing insightful content over time you will build credibility and you’ll end up becoming an authority in your field.
This is not going to happen overnight, but if you do the work the rewards are worth the effort.
It’s normal to feel scared in the beginning, and it’s quite normal to do a poor job. However, keep in mind that, with time, you’ll get better at delivering and satisfying your clients.
To make things easier, you should start taking some gigs while you’re still working for your employer. Do not think about money, but focus on building up your profile and learning the communication & interaction skills that are so important to succeed.
Become a freelance authority on LinkedIn
I want to talk you specifically about Linkedin as a platform to grow and leverage your freelancing career.
LinkedIn is right now the biggest social network for professionals and keeps growing every day.
If you are promoting your freelance services, LinkedIn is the place to be. You can connect with tens of thousands of decision-makers in your industry, establish and build new relationships and, finally, land new clients.
A good place to start is LinkedIn groups, trust me, I’ve built a huge following thanks to sharing my content and contributing to LinkedIn groups regularly.
Another important thing that I deeply encourage you to do is to take the time to work on your freelance LinkedIn profile and rank what is called your Social Selling Index.
This is basically a score that LinkedIn links to your profile based on how optimized it is. I show you here how to rank your social selling index to the top 1% of your industry.
If you do a good job optimizing your profile it should look similar to this:
Once you start landing a few jobs and making some profit, you’ll realize that you are not alone. You are probably fighting other thousand or tens of thousands of freelancers who are just as skilled as you.
In order to outsmart them, you need to be able to add value to your offer and learn how to stand out from the competition.
To do that, you need to have a solid portfolio. Make sure your portfolio is easy to access and that is focused on how you solved a stringent need of your customers.
In addition to the portfolio, you want to collect testimonials from previous customers.
Another thing you can do to stand out from the crowd is to demonstrate your value and to become specialized in your area.
For example, if you’re offering WordPress development services, you can upload some of your projects to GitHub and share them with your potential customers.
Lastly, keep learning and innovating, and do not be afraid to offer third-party services if your market requires that.
How to price your freelance services the right way
When you just started you are hungry for new clients and pricing your services lower than your competition is a big temptation.
I strongly recommend you to don’t do that. Here is why…
Pricing is one of the most marketing strategies that you can follow. For some reason, freelancers and entrepreneurs tend to obviate this.
If you position your services at a low price, the quality of your customers will be proportional to that.
In other words, cheap services attract cheap clients.
And trust me you don’t want to fight with cheap clients, I’ve been there and that’s the fastest way to end up burnout.
Additionally, if you are working at low rates you are not going to deliver great results. The impact that you are going to make on your customers will be anything but remarkable.
If you want to offer your prices at a lower cost for your first few customers, as I said earlier, that’s ok.
There is a reason behind that, you want to invest a lot of effort and making little money because you are collecting awesome testimonials that you can use to attract future customers.
TIP: if you use this strategy make sure that you let know to those initial customers that you are offering your services at with an 80% discount for a limited time as a testing campaign.
Lastly, you want to know how to properly ask for testimonials.
Depending on the platform you choose to work, you need to use all the tools in the platform in order to ensure your clients will give you high ratings.
Once you deliver the completed work, kindly ask for an honest review. Most of the platforms have this process already streamlined.
However, what if you decide to go forward and build your own site? That’s the next step of your freelancing business.
The long game on becoming a freelancer: going beyond your first client
At this point, you have lots of work to do but the journey has just started.
So, what happens when you have landed your firsts freelance clients?
Actually, here is when the fun begins, because you have a minimum client portfolio with some great testimonials and case studies.
In my opinion, the next natural step for a successful freelancer is to figure out the way to scale the business.
This basically means, How can I increase my income as a freelancer?
Like any business, you have 3 main roads here:
- Increase the volume of your transactions.
- Get more clients
- Increase the lifetime value of your current clients.
Here you will find your first deep dilemma as a freelancer.
If you want to apply any of those strategies, and you should, to grow your freelance business you need to delegate some work.
As a freelancer, you have limited time to sell to your clients, so now you will need to find a way to scale your services.
Don’t worry, many people have been there and you can do it as well.
Let me tell you about my personal experience here. I used to offer my services as a LinkedIn consultant helping freelancers, business owners and CEOs to improve their LinkedIn strategies.
The thing is that I have limited time to deliver those consultations. So I created a way to offer my 15 min video-audit LinkedIn profile review.
This is basically a 100% video review of your LinkedIn profile that I do telling you exactly what you need to improve.
And guess what, I can delegate that job to my team so they can attend those clients and I can focus on growing my business or attending high-end projects.
This is just a simple way that you can scale your freelancing but there is many of them! Here are a few of them:
- Sell an online course
- Paid Facebook group with premium material
- Direct access to you as a monthly Patreon community
- Private mastermind group (you can do this online)