If you want to get into freelancing, chances are you are someone who loves independence and doesn’t want to get trapped into rigid working hours of a 9 to 5 job.
Over the years, freelancing has become synonymous with flexibility, having autonomy, and being your own boss. If you are not very sure what is freelancing and how it works, don’t worry you are not alone.
Here is a brief meaning of freelancing:
When a person signs a contract with a company or another individual to do a skilled or semi-skilled task on a temporary basis in lieu for a fixed or variable money, it’s called freelancing. As a freelancer, you are free to work for as many or as few clients as you wish.
Since questions like “what freelancing is” or “freelance meaning” can’t have a straightforward answer and involve a lot of permutations and combinations, we have created a guide that will take you to the path of becoming a successful freelancer.
Let’s get on with it.
Types of freelancing jobs
Freelancing is a wide term and the job profile varies widely. To help you understand the practical meaning of freelancing, it’s better to know the different types of freelancing jobs that are available.
We have listed a few top freelancing jobs that are in demand and pay well.
|Digital art||Logo designer|
|Web and mobile developer||Front end developer|
|Back end developer|
|Full stack developer|
|Photo and video editing|
Finding your freelancing niche
With dozens of freelancing jobs available out there, you will need to choose your core focus area, in other words, your niche talent for which clients would want to hire you.
One way to find your niche is to list out everything that you love doing. This list will include things that you can do as well as aspire to do. For example, you are an expert in photography, but you would like to learn photo and video editing as well. Make a list with a mix of such skills.
Also Read: Six Freelance Jobs For Freshers
From this list, pick out the activities that you are expert at, like photography. Then shortlist skills that you not only can do, but love doing. For example, you can do photography, paint, and write long articles. But you might prefer writing more than photography and painting. Pick out the skills that you absolutely love.
The last step is to match these skills with the demand for that in the freelance market. For example, you love writing and painting above anything else. But writing has more scope and pays better. In that case, pick writing as your niche. You can find out which skill has a better demand by looking at the job listings on freelance websites.
Once you recognise your niche that has high demand for freelance jobs, it is time to start finding work.
Getting started with freelancing
Working as a freelancer means doing multiple things in parallel. These include:
- Brand building
As a freelancer, you should consider yourself a business. Just like businesses build their brand, you should invest time and energy in creating your own brand. Having a reputed brand name in the freelancing market will establish your authority among clients.
Depending on your niche, you will need to choose different ways of brand building.
A few common steps of brand building is to choose a business name – it can either be your own name or a thematic name that reflects your work or philosophy. Then create a professional looking logo and use it as a profile picture on all social media platforms.
One big part of brand building is to talk about your niche on social media.
For example – if you are looking for freelance projects as a graphic designer, talk about the importance of graphic designing, your journey of getting into this field, and give tips to aspiring designers. Post your work on Instagram and Facebook.
All this will make you an authoritative voice in the graphic designing field. Let your clients see that you are deeply involved in the process of graphic designing.
- Business registration
Legitimise your career choice by registering it as a business. Since you are no longer a part of the corporate world, there is no HR who will help you with your taxes and other such activities.
Once you have decided a name for your business, go ahead and register it with the government.
Clients will be more forthcoming to work with you as compared to someone who has not done this. Having a registered business also shows that you take your freelancing business seriously and are professional.
Having a portfolio is a must for freelancers. Your website will be the first thing that clients will look at so put out your best work on the website.
Write a compelling copy on the website that shows clients that you are the best person for the job. Show clients how it will be to work with you, explain your work process, and the time and effort that you take to ensure they get the best work.
Also, it helps to have a few positive testimonials from your old clients or from your previous boss.
Make sure you include a personal side of yourself as well on the website. List out your interests, your side projects (if any), and previous achievements, etc. This will tell clients what kind of a person you are – after all they will be closely working with you.
Lastly, make it easy for the clients to get in touch with you. Link your social media profiles, your email address, and if need be your phone number in the ‘Contact’ section of the website.
Three ways to find freelance work
Once you build the foundation to get started, it’s time to start looking for clients.
Alternatively, as a result of you building your brand and having a sleek looking professional website, chances are you will start getting inquiries from companies and individuals. But, as a freelancer you can’t sit and wait for clients to come to you. You will have to actively reach out to them.
Here are the three ways to find freelance work:
1. Freelancing websites
There are dozens of freelancing websites that match freelancers with clients. As a freelancer, you can create your account on almost all of them and regularly check these websites to find freelance work that pays well.
To start with, you can make an account on these top freelance websites:
Check out each of these websites and understand how they function. Polish your resume and personalise it for different clients by focusing on the skills that are required for a certain job. While creating a profile, take your time to add all the relevant skills and details of your past work experience.
Also, check out profiles of clients whose job listings interest you. See how frequently they look for freelancers, notice their ratings and reviews other freelancers have given them. This will clear your doubt of whether a particular client is genuine or a fraudster.
2. Social media
Always be on a lookout for posts on social media platforms, specifically Twitter and LinkedIn, of freelance job postings. Set an alert for keywords like ‘job’, ‘freelancer’, ‘freelancer wanted/needed’, etc. This will ensure you get immediately notified once someone puts up a post on these platforms.
If you do find a post on Twitter or LinkedIn that fits your skills, follow the instructions to the T. If the client has asked you to email them your work portfolio, avoid messaging them personally to ask what they want. Notice if the client’s post says anything about what to write in the ‘Subject’ field while emailing the portfolio. If it has, do as instructed.
These instructions are very important and you should not deviate from them at all. Later, you can comment on their post that you have sent the email.
In addition to this, keep posting your work on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Use Twitter’s thread feature to post your takes on latest trends in your field. Parallely, improve your branding by adding a specific hashtag to your tweets.
All these activities will increase your chances to get clients.
3. Free work
In your initial days of finding a gig, you might need to offer your skills to clients for free. But don’t worry it will not be entirely free.
Suppose you are a web developer who builds websites. Look at websites of small businesses and create a list of those that have obvious problems, like clunky user interface, design challenges, technical performance issues, etc.
Reach out to the owners or the managers of these companies and propose the changes you think could improve their websites. Write a detailed proposal and tell them the changes they should make on their websites and how these improvements will increase their sales.
Try to get a meeting with them and pitch your idea. If your pitch is impressive, chances are they will hire you. If not, offer them your service for free and ask them to write a testimonial for you if they like the end result.
You not only get a testimonial you can add to your website, but an experience of working with a client. You can use your experience to write about it on social media platforms.
This is the tricky part of being a freelancer. You don’t want to scare away clients by quoting an exorbitantly high price, nor do you want to suffer a loss by playing it safe.
Price negotiation is a delicate subject. Very often freelancers quote a really low price just to get the project. You should not do that as you will be spending a lot of time and energy for which you should be paid the right price.
Depending on which sector your freelance work is in, your pricing strategy will change. Let’s see how to set up a right price:
- Fixed cost
If your expertise is in a field that requires you to use physical material or travel to some place, it’s somewhat easier to come up with a price. Calculate the total cost of the raw material that you will need for the job, add travel and transport fare, if any.
You should include your fee, probably 30% of the total cost to complete the work. This will be your profit.
- Hourly Vs project fee
If you are into a field where no such physical material is needed, it becomes a bit difficult to come up with a right price.
There are two pricing strategies you can look into. You can either ask for an hourly rate, or a fixed fee to complete the whole project.
It gets trickier for writers, as generally clients wouldn’t agree on a per hour rate and a flat fee will put the writer at loss. As a writer you can ask to be paid per word rather than a flat fee. There can also be a mix of both: flat fee for 1,000 words, and per word rate for anything after that.
If you are going for a fixed pricing, you should factor in things like:
- Industry rate
- Time taken to complete the job
- Your experience
- Number of extra revisions
It’s important that you get a detailed brief from the client that lists out the scope of work, final result expected, and the number of revisions or changes you will do without any extra cost. If the client asks for more revisions than agreed to, you should charge more.
- Arbitrary pricing
It’s perfectly fine to not have a fixed price for every client since everyone will have different targets and expectations in their mind. Depending on what the clients ask for and how much time and effort it will take to execute them, you can set a price for that specific client.
You can also quote your price depending on the client’s portfolio. For example, a multinational company will have a higher budget than a local small company. So, even though the scope of work might be more or less same for both the clients, you can set different prices.
There are many misplaced assumptions people have regarding freelancing. Now you would have got a better picture of what freelancing is and the steps you need to take to make it big in this field.
Freelancing demands a lot of effort, planning, networking, and shameless branding of yourself and your work. If you can do all these things, no one can stop you from earning big bucks as a freelancer.