The idea to start freelancing is an enticing one.
Freelance work gives the creator a sense of autonomy which incorporates location independence, a flexible schedule, a flexible workload and a flexible income. It allows the creator to only answer to themselves when it comes to their work ethic, and it gives them a sense of accomplishment in building a career for themselves.
According to inc.com, freelancers now make up 34 per cent of the American workforce and, of this percentage, 84% state that they find real purpose and happiness working in a gig-related economy.
However, even with the desire to begin working towards this new lifestyle, many people don’t know where to begin.
Here are some tips to start freelancing:
Pick a medium
Not everyone has what it takes to be a graphic designer, just like not everyone has what it takes to be a doctor or a chemical engineer.
The very first step in freelancing is figuring out where your skill and passion lies. Freelancing can be a tough nut to crack, and if you’re not 100% committed to your craft, you could get left behind fast.
Develop a brand
Think about who you are, what you love, and what you want your work to represent. What niches in your craft will keep you motivated to continue working?
For example, if you decide to become a freelance writer, think about the topics you’d be passionate in covering. Are you interested in travel writing? Lifestyle writing? Culinary writing? Investigative journalism?
Build a portfolio
A portfolio will be a one-stop-shop that will showcase all your best works. Here’s how to make one:
- Hone your craft – In order for people to justify paying for your work, you will need to become proficient in your craft. For example, if you are looking to become a freelance writer, start writing immediately. Write for yourself, or about things in which you are particularly interested. Research different writing techniques, and read a book or two about grammar.
- Curate some samples – When you feel that your craft is honed enough to jump into the water, create some samples of your work. These samples can be pitched to companies or posted online as the best examples of the level of your ability.
- Do some pro bono work – In order to get your name out into the world and make paying customers comfortable in taking you on as a freelancer, offer to work for some companies pro bono. Keep in mind that there is a fine line between offering your work for free in order to build a brand and being undervalued as a freelancer; know when it’s time to draw the line.
- Get some testimonials – When you do pro bono work, do it under the agreement that you will get written testimonials from the companies with which you work. These can be posted in your portfolio as added proof of your skills and work ethic.
Get the word out
Tell everyone and their dog that you are now offering freelancing services. Take a look at your personal network and mention this news to anyone who could potentially help you in either honing your craft or getting the word out.
Tell these people about your brand identity, and what you are hoping to accomplish by taking on freelance work.
Boost your internet activity
A good way to keep your services in the forefront of people’s minds, find new potential clients, and stay in the loop about your industry is to up the amount of time you spend on the web.
A good way to do this is to start a blog or a website showcasing your skills and portfolio. Promote your website on other well-known platforms, and take part in all branches of social media.
Now that you have established a portfolio, brand, and internet presence, it’s time to start pitching your work to companies. To do this, identify companies that fit in with your niche and either research their submission policies or, when in doubt, cold e-mail them with your ideas.
When you do this, keep in mind that most companies only take original content that has not been posted elsewhere. So if you’re a writer, don’t expect to pitch one story idea to multiple companies and not rack your brain trying to come up with unique spins down the line.
Decide on personal rates
Once you’ve established yourself as a lasting player in the freelance game, you will probably get companies reaching out to you to do work for them. Be prepared for when this happens and decide on your personal rates in advance.
Only you know how much your time is worth, yet it’s advisable to do a bit of sleuthing and see what people of similar experience and skill are charging for their services as well.