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A Complete Guide to Becoming a Freelancer

  • By Sophie McAulay
  • November 25, 2020

Becoming a freelancer is an exciting move for your career. You’re embarking on a new adventure where you’ll be able to make your own decisions about what you work on, when you work, and where you work from.
It’s also an incredible new challenge where you’ll need to learn everything about running your own business.
Are you up for it?

Use this guide to determine if you’re ready to become a freelancer, and what steps you need to take to make it happen.
In this guide:

Making the Plan

The first step towards becoming a freelancer is making the decision to take the leap. If you’re on the fence, here are the first three steps to take in making your freelance plan.

1. Decide if you’re cut out for freelancing

It takes a certain kind of person to make it as a freelancer. Not everyone has the self-motivation, discipline, and resilience needed to be their own boss.

Want to know if you’ve got what it takes? Take a look at these bits of essential reading:

2. Choose a job

So you think you can freelance? Then it’s time to consider what’s the perfect job for you to do out on your own. These articles will help you look for a career that you can have from anywhere.

3. Get the skills

The easiest way to go freelance is to choose a job that uses the skills you already have. But if that’s not possible for you, you’ll need to be willing to upskill. Here are a few places you can start to gain the skills you need.

Quitting your job

For many, the scariest part about deciding to go freelance is the fact that you have to leave your stable, familiar job.
Not quite ready to give up that level of certainty? Maybe you want to get started with a side hustle. This can be a good way to test how easy it is for you to find work, how good you are at self-motivating, and how much you’d enjoy doing that kind of thing day in, day out.

If you’re certain you’re ready to commit to the lifestyle, these articles can provide the inspiration you need to give you a push:

Finding work

Once you know what kind of work you’re looking for, there are plenty of ways to find freelance work.

Tips for finding work as a freelancer

These five articles provide tips on how to go about your job search, with hacks and suggestions of what you can be doing to make finding freelance work easier.

Websites for finding work as a freelancer

As remote work becomes increasingly popular, there are more and more websites popping up that allow businesses to access talent from anywhere. From gig-based sites like Fiverr to more traditional job search engines that have ‘remote only’ options, there’s an incredible number of opportunities to discover. Start with this comprehensive list of the best places to find freelance jobs online.

Want to know what other options there are? Here are some more resources and websites for finding work:

Promoting yourself

As a freelancer, you’re no longer just focused on providing your core services. You also need to become good at selling yourself. This means presenting a professional image of yourself online, writing great proposals and applications, and getting good at talking about what you do. This doesn’t always come easy to new freelancers, so here is some information to help.

Your online image

Having an online presence is an absolute necessity these days if you want to look professional. Your website is a place where you can share the kinds of skills you have and previous work you have created, to give potential clients an insight into what they’d be able to get from you. It’s also an opportunity to share information about the clients you’ve worked with previously, to provide ‘social proof’ that you’re trustworthy and reliable. Never created a website before? Not a problem. You don’t need a fancy website to promote yourself. Here’s how to create the perfect business website.
You’ll also need some additional marketing materials outside of your website. This article shares 11 marketing materials you’ll need when working for yourself.

Looking professional from the outset

When you’re just getting started, it might be difficult to know what to include on your website. Perhaps you don’t have a ton of previous clients or a portfolio to share. But there are a few tricks you can use to make your business look bigger than it is. Take a look at these articles for some help:

Writing great pitches

You’re about to start spending a lot of time pitching for work, especially while you’re starting out and building up a name for yourself. On websites where freelance jobs are listed you’ll be competing with many other freelancers, so it’s important to get good at this, fast. Take a look at these articles for tips on how to promote yourself appropriately so you can land more jobs.

Getting started: The freelance essentials

There are a bunch of things you can’t be expected to know when you show up for your first day as a freelancer. How do you price your work? How can you put a contract together? How do you do your taxes?

Resources you need

Before you jump into the deep end, take a look at these resources for freelancers. With everything from online courses to ebooks and short articles, you’ll be the most well-equipped freelancer from the outset.

Learning how to be a good freelancer

Outside of these essentials, there’s also plenty to learn about managing your own workload and overcoming some of the challenges that come with being a freelancer. These tips on how to set goals and rules for yourself and lean on your freelance community will go a long way to helping make you a happier freelancer.

Hungry for more freelance knowledge? Here are 600+ Tools and Resources for Freelancers.

Good luck

‘Going freelance’ may just be the best step you ever take for your career. Now that you’ve got all the knowledge you need to be a successful freelancer, you can enjoy the freedom and flexibility that this lifestyle offers and start to design your days, weeks… and the rest of your life the way you want to lead it.
And if you need a little help from your freelance community along the way, join the Freelance Masterminds Facebook group and share your questions and learnings there.

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