Learn how to become a freelancer with this helpful guide and make excellent money as your own boss this year!
Our Savvy guide for freelancing will walk you through everything you need to know to get started, including tips on finding clients, getting paid for freelance work, and other information about starting a low-cost business like freelancing.
What’s A Freelancer?
A freelancer is self-employed and is not committed to a single employer long-term. They are not employees of the client but rather a contract worker, and the client pays them directly for their services.
Freelancers can work in various industries and fields, and they often have highly specialized skills that they can monetize.
The first thing that usually comes to mind when you say “freelancer” is freelance writers. And while that’s certainly one type of freelancer, there are many different types of freelancers out there, which we’ll discuss.
Our Top Freelance Businesses
- Best Flexibility: Freelance Writing
- Best Job Stability: Bookkeeping
- Best For Any Lifestyle: Blogging
- BONUS! Find the best freelance jobs and get cleints quickly using Steady. Plus, find out how much money you’re making and how you can make more using Steady features like Income Tracker and Income Boosters.
Examples Of Freelance Jobs
The list of popular freelance jobs is constantly growing as more and more businesses move online. The need for freelancers who can work remotely is increasing.
Here are some of the most popular online businesses ideas for freelancers.
- Freelance writer – Becoming a freelance writer is one of the most popular freelance jobs. Writers can work in various industries and write for a variety of publications.
- Freelance proofreader – Proofreaders help businesses improve their writing and ensure that their documents are error-free, and if you’re not sure you can become a proofreader, you can watch a FREE workshop.
- Freelance blogger – Companies and bloggers are always looking for new content or help in starting a blog, and they’re willing to pay freelance bloggers to write it for them. We use BlueHost as our web host for only $2.95, meaning you can start for relatively cheap and focus on making money.
- Bookkeeper – Bookkeepers help businesses keep track of their finances and ensure compliance with tax laws. And if you don’t know how to be a bookkeeper, a FREE workshop can show you how to start a profitable bookkeeping business.
- Freelance social media management – Social media managers help businesses grow their social media following and create engaging content and graphic design. Jasper can help you write by using one of their templates for Facebook Ads or Google Ads.
- Digital marketing consultant – Digital marketing freelancers help businesses with digital marketing, such as SEO, email campaigns, and paid advertising. Surfer SEO can help you optimize your content faster than ever!
- Freelance transcription – Transcriptionists convert audio files into written transcriptions. Check out Transcribe Anywhere for a FREE workshop to start your business.
- Virtual Assistant – A virtual assistant helps businesses with various tasks, including customer service, social media management, data entry, and more. Learn more about becoming a virtual assistant with $10K VA.
9 Steps How To Become A Freelancer
The freelance life can be very appealing. You get to be your own boss, set your own hours, and work from anywhere in the world.
But what does it take to become a freelancer? Let’s run through the 9 freelance process steps you need to take to start freelancing.
1. What Are Your Skills?
The first step to becoming a freelancer is determining what skill set you have to offer to clients.
What are you good at or enjoy doing? How can you help businesses? Once you know the answers, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful freelancer.
You may not think you have high-income skills, but you probably do!
Your skill set can be based on your previous full-time job, hobbies, or other interests, and includes things like writing, math, listening, design, and much more.
Once you know what your skills are, you can start thinking about how you can use them to start a side hustle freelancing.
There are courses you can take (based on the niche you pick) where you can learn about starting your business and earn more money for your projects:
- Earn More Money is a great course for freelance writers to develop their skills further
- Proofread Anywhere offers a FREE workshop for prospective proofreaders
- Bookkeeper Launch has a FREE workshop for bookkeepers to start their business
- Stupid Simple SEO can teach social media managers how to create optimized content
2. Research Your Niche & Competition
Once you’ve decided what your skills are and what contract work is for you, it’s time to research your niche and competition.
There is a lot of competition out there, so you need to make sure that you know who your target market is and what needs they have that you can fill.
The best way to do this market research is to look at other freelancers already succeeding in your chosen niche. See what services they are offering and how they market themselves.
Also, don’t forget to look at your target client’s needs and get some audience insights. What kind of problems do they need to be solved by contract workers like you?
3. Make Your Business
After you’ve honed your skills and found your niche, it’s time to make your freelance business official.
First, you’ll need to decide what legal structure your freelance business will take.
Will you be a sole proprietor, LLC, or get a DBA? Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so do your research before deciding.
Next, you’ll need to obtain any necessary licenses and permits. Needing these will vary depending on your location and the type of work you’ll do.
Finally, you’ll need to talk to someone about whether to get liability insurance to protect your business.
With these three steps complete, you’ll be ready to begin freelancing full-time!
4. Create A Portfolio
The fourth step to becoming a successful freelancer is to create a portfolio of your previous work to help potential clients see the type of work you’re capable of and what kind of style you have.
It’s also a good idea to create your own website to showcase your work and list your services. If you have not had any actual clients, you can still include other previous jobs with relative experience or personal pieces you’ve done in the past, even if they were volunteer work or for friends and family.
For example, if you designed a website for a friend’s business, include screenshots or links so potential clients can see your design skills.
5. Define Your Service Offerings
It’s essential to be clear and concise when defining your service offering to your ideal client, as this will be the foundation of your social media presence and marketing efforts.
When your target audience visits your website or social media page, they should quickly be able to understand what you do and how you can help them. If your services are too vague or confusing, you risk losing potential clients.
6. Set Your Prices
One of the biggest mistakes that new freelancers make is undervaluing their services. They think they have to lowball their rates to attract clients because they’re just starting.
There are a few things to consider when setting your pricing structure:
- Are you going to be offering your services hourly, per project, or per word?
- What is your experience level?
- Consider the market rate for the type of work you will be doing. Research what other freelancers in your field are charging and use that as a starting point for setting your prices.
- Finally, make sure your pay rates will cover all of your living expenses. Be sure to include taxes, health insurance, and other living costs in your rate calculation.
Don’t be afraid to adjust your prices as you gain more experience. As you become more in demand, you can slowly increase your rates until you reach the income goal you have set for yourself, whether for a full-time income or an extra income.
7. Join/Search Job Sites
The next step to becoming a freelancer is joining or searching job sites. This is where you will find freelance opportunities posted by companies and individuals looking for workers.
Many of these postings will be for one-time projects, but you may also find some for long-term positions. You can search for new job postings by keywords such as data entry jobs, location, or category.
Some of the most popular freelancing platforms for freelancers are Steady, Fiverr, and FlexJobs, where you can post your pricing and info on your services, then find remote jobs to apply for. Plus, clients can easily find and contact you!
You can also find freelance projects on social media sites. For example, LinkedIn has a job board where companies and individuals can post openings for freelancers.
8. Find Clients & Maintain Those Relationships
Now that you’re all set up as a freelancer, you need clients to pay your bills! Finding clients can be challenging for those new to freelance work, but it’s also essential to your success.
There are a few different ways to find more clients:
- Networking: Attend industry events, join relevant online communities, join LinkedIn, or reach out to your contacts. Anywhere you can connect with possible clients is a huge benefit and networking opportunity.
- Cold pitching: Cold pitching involves reaching out to possible clients directly, either by email or social media. It can be a bit daunting, but it’s often worth the effort – especially if you have a well-crafted pitch and land a new freelance client.
- Job boards: Most freelancers use job boards to find new clients. Popular online job boards for freelancers include Steady, FlexJobs, Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer.
- Word of mouth: Once you have a few happy clients, they may be willing to refer you to their contacts. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find new clients, as it comes with a built-in seal of approval.
Bonus: It’s essential to build relationships with clients and maintain strong client relationships. This means delivering quality work on time, being communicative, and always being professional.
9. Continue Professional Development
If you want to be a successful freelancer, continuing your professional development is essential.
By keeping up with the latest trends and teachings in your field, you can ensure repeat business and future projects.
Many clients are willing to pay a premium for freelancers who are experts in their field. As a result, investing in your professional development can significantly benefit your career.
However, it’s essential to carefully choose your professional development activities to avoid wasting time and money on things that won’t further your career or broaden your services.
Make sure to pick programs that will teach you something new and will be relevant to the type of work you’re interested in.
Pros & Cons Of Freelancing
- Be your own boss in your own business
- Determine your own pay rates
- Get paid to do what you love
- Work from anywhere in the world
- Flexible schedule
- Quit your current day job
- Considered Self-employed individual by the Internal Revenue Service
- Pay Self-employment taxes- with some pointers from TurboTax
- No health insurance or other benefits (but you can get them through your state)
- You may have slow times
- Need to keep accurate records of business expenses
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I should try freelancing?
Deciding if freelancing is right for you depends heavily on what you’re looking for in a career.
Freelancing may be a good fit if you value flexibility, freedom, and being your boss. However, it may not be the right choice if you prefer the stability and predictability of past jobs.
What if I don’t have any traditional work experience?
You probably have more experience than you realize. Start by making a list of your skills, experiences, and accomplishments.
Even if you don’t have traditional work experience, you may have other experience relevant to freelancing.
For example, if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you have experience with time management, multitasking, and budgeting.
Is freelancing profitable?
Many people choose a freelance career because it is more profitable than a traditional full-time job. If you can complete projects quickly, you can make a lot of money.
You’re in control of how much you work and get paid, and you can determine your income entirely.
If you want to make $60,000 per year as a freelance writer, you can charge $30 per hour or more and work full-time at home if that’s what you want.
Additionally, many freelancers have multiple clients, which allows them to make even more money.
What are the advantages of becoming a freelancer?
The main advantage of freelancing is that you have a lot of control over your work. You can choose who you want to work with, what projects you want to take on, and when you want to work.
Another advantage of freelancing is that you can often make more money than you would as an employee. You’re usually paid per project, and you can often negotiate a higher rate than what an employer would pay you.
There are also some tax advantages to being a freelancer. For example, you can deduct your business expenses from your taxes, saving you a lot of money.
What are the challenges of freelancing?
The specific challenges of freelancing can vary depending on your field and your own skills in the niche you pick.
Some of the most common challenges include finding work during slow times, managing your time effectively, and keeping accurate records of business expenses. It’s also important to be good at self-promotion and networking to find clients to work with.
How can I get clients to hire me as a freelancer?
Start by meeting possible clients in person, on Zoom, or through social media groups and participating in job fairs and networking events. Be yourself when talking to possible clients but also be professional and polite.
Also, be honest about your skills and what you can offer. If you’re not sure how to get started, try offering to do a free trial for possible clients.
As you can see, it can be very worthwhile and profitable to learn how to become a freelancer and work on your own.
Many people dream of a freelancing career because of how enjoyable it can be compared to a typical day job. The ability to set your hours and work from anywhere are just a few perks that attract people to freelancing.
Even if you’re happy with your day job, it’s also possible to have a solid freelance business side hustle.
With a little hard work and dedication, you can soon be earning plenty of extra cash or a full-time income from your contract work! And use sites like Steady to find jobs and earn more money successfully.
You also need to be able to market yourself and find your target clients who are willing to pay you for your services. However, if you are willing to put in the effort, freelancing can be a gratifying career.
With a little hard work and dedication, you can make your freelance dreams a reality.