Freelancing is a type of self-employed business. A freelancer or freelance worker decides his own work at his own comfort level and is not necessarily committed a to a particular employer long term.
So How do you build a freelance career when you have no experience, no clients, and no skills? You have to begin somewhere—even if it’s right at the bottom of the ladder. Don’t fret! It’s actually quite easy to get started. Freelancing isn’t just a game of luck. It takes hard work, persistence, and perpetual learning in order to truly cultivate a successful freelance career.
Proof of my Freelance Expertise
Before I begin with my step by step freelancing process, I wanted to prove my experience alongside my CERT level as a professional freelancer. This is because I am not talking about Freelancing as someone who knows about it but as someone who has been there, endured the journey of being a nobody to a somebody and I would want to share my personal experiences alongside the proofs.
Apart from personal clients and negotiations, the picture below shows my CERT level in People per hour platform.
Resources Required for Freelancing
Before you begin your journey, take a look at the following five resources which will go far to help you navigate the freelance process. Hence, you need the following to start the race!
1) Skill-set (Mandatory) The kind of freelance jobs you attract will be determined by your skill set. What are you good at? Focus on your strong points and for your own sake; please indicate genuine skills only as these will be put to test.
2) Laptop (Mandatory) The computer is your office. You will get nothing accomplished without a good laptop with the necessary soft wares and apps.
3) Additional led (Optional) This is not a must have but would be good if you are able to get one.
4) Internet 24/7 with a backup (Mandatory) As a freelancer, all if not most your work and correspondence with your client will be done online. In order for you to build a strong profile, it is important that you maintain a constant online presence, which requires internet.
5) Peace of mind (Yes! Complete focus required) Freelancing requires focus, so it is important that your working conditions are conducive in order for you to complete your tasks in a timely manner
Most Important Factor: “The Skill-set”
Unlike a traditional job, there are no entry requirements for a position that you build yourself. Obviously, there are exceptions that vary sector-by-sector, so it’s worth researching your specific job role (or as close to is as you can find) in our job role database before you commit. If you’re unfamiliar with freelancing, you may be surprised at all of the skills that freelancers actually use to run their businesses.
So ask yourself, what are you good at? Identify your strong areas. The work you get as a freelancer is always determined by your skills. The more skills you have, the better your chances of landing clients.
Are you passionate about doing it? Passion always makes work easier. Align your passion with the type of freelance work you seek.
How do you rate your expertise? There are some freelance platforms that provide tests for you to rate your expertise. Pitch according to your expertise to ensure a long-term relationship with your potential clients.
Do you require more practice? If perhaps you feel you require practice, it is advisable for you to do just that, to be sure you are good at the skills you mentioned in your portfolio
Process of Freelancing
Being talented is only part of the formula for success. In reality, what will set you apart as a freelancer may not have as much to do with your creative talents as you might assume? Key attributes for success include professionalism, reliability, the ability to communicate effectively, conscientiousness, honesty, and likeability.
Successful freelancers must dedicate time to improving their skill set and keep up with emerging trends in their industry. Complacency, stagnation and being out of touch are totally unacceptable. Now then – if all the above has fired your enthusiasm rather than dampened it, what is the process of freelancing?
Step 1 (Defining your Skills)
As I mentioned above, you need to define and narrow down your skillset before initiating your freelancing process. Don’t drag yourself to the earning part. This is just the first step of telling yourself “I can do this”.
Besides your key skill set, other ‘secondary’ skills may represent great freelancing opportunities, however, you need to be sure about your PRIMARY SKILL before thinking about SECONDARY SKILLS. Think about all aspects of your work and hobbies – for example, do you have organizational skills, writing skills or project management skills? Compatible skills and experience can be combined to offer a unique service.
Remember that your Secondary skills should be interconnected with your primary skills as it would add more value to your Primary skill.
A client is not concerned about how vast you know rather how deep you know about what they require.
Step 2 (Learning or progress in your Skills)
Initiating or expanding your skillset.
Your current specialty (or specialties; you may have more than one) is your foundation. You’re going to build on it. Following a common-sense progression will make expanding easier. You don’t want to jump from the foundation to the fifteenth floor. You want to build it, one level at a time. Progression through logical stages lets you bring in regular income while steadily opening up new opportunities.
In order to figure out what the next level is for you, first list the new skills you want to gain or new areas in which you’d like to work. If you’re short on ideas, look vertically and horizontally from your foundation: which skills are up one level of the skills you possess? What areas are right next door, closely related but separate from the areas in which you currently work?
The stronger the connection between an old skill and a new one, the easier it is to gain. Likewise, the more closely related two areas are, the easier it will be for you to jump from one to the other.
Step 3 (Freelancing Platforms: Finding your first client)
Which one is better for you to join?
If you’re just a newbie, you may not have that large of a network. That’s pretty cool because there are plenty of freelance websites and job boards available to help find a job. Registering on these websites gives you an opportunity to connect with the large community of clients as well as other freelancers for collaboration. Some of the well-known job boards and freelance websites are:
Depending on your skills, language, and expertise, most of these platforms offer diverse work but I would strongly advocate for People per hour for beginners. You can check out the complete tutorial of the registration and portfolio creation strategies in this post.
Step 4 (Portfolio)
The importance of portfolio creation for your profile
Prospective clients often value proof of quality work more than qualifications and experience, so collecting examples of your work is important. This may mean initially working gratis, ideally with relatively high-profile clients. While unpaid work may seemingly defeat the object of freelancing, its value in terms of boosting your portfolio aside, it can lead to referrals or even paid work from the same client.
Step 5 (Bidding and Winning)
In Freelancer, if a “buyer” (employer) posts a project you like, you, the “seller” of a service (freelancer), would have to bid on it so you can get paid to work on it. Name your price and the number of days it would take you to complete the project. Some pieces of advice: Employers don’t always hire the lowest bidder. Winning bids on the freelance bidding sites can be pretty difficult even if you have lots of experience in a certain area.
While there are lots of clients looking for people to do work for them, there are that many and more people looking to do the work. The competition for the posted jobs can be fierce.
Placing a winning bid on selected job postings is essential to getting some of these jobs. Your bid will need to stand out more than all the other bids that are placed for that one job. If your bid doesn’t stand out, it will only get lost in the swarm of other unwanted bids.
Here are some tips to help you get your bid noticed: Take your time with your profile resume and update regularly- Your profile resume needs to show what experience or skills you have that pertain to the jobs you plan to post for. If your profile resume isn’t good, you’ll probably lose the jobs you bid on; even if you place a great bid.
Don’t be afraid to place lower bids when you’re just starting out- Most freelancers will place lower bids to help them win projects.
Lucrative opportunities undoubtedly await good freelancers. If you feel the benefits outweigh the risks, it could be your perfect next step.
Freelancing isn’t without its challenges, but the rewards can be great and it can be a launch pad to even greater opportunities. The essentials are covered above – are you ready for the leap? Complement what you’ve learned with further research if needed, but more importantly, take action. There’s no magic wand – identify your skill set, target prospective clients, communicate the benefits of working with you clearly, and deliver on your promises. Below are a few pointers for you to note;
Recurring Process of Freelancing
Writing a proposal
Writing a strong proposal that can beat out experienced competitors is instrumental to winning the best projects and increasing your income as a freelancer. If done right, a truly great freelance proposal will make your potential clients want you, even more than you want them.
Sending associated samples
Associated samples act as proof of your previous work and if your skills are viable for the work you are applying for. Samples in freelancing are vital since they act as your CV while interacting with the potential client.
Negotiating your rate
The first thing you must do as a freelancer is ascertained the lowest equivalent hourly rate you are willing to work for- your Minimum Acceptable Rate (MAR). Setting and negotiating rates can seem like one of the most complicated and intimidating parts of freelancing but it really doesn’t have to be.
- Determine Your Minimum Acceptable Rate (MAR). Any freelancer should know where their bottom line is.
- Charge per project
- Negotiate based on their perception of value.
- Get them to name a price
- Start high
- Give yourself room to adjust rates
- Seek a mutually agreeable outcome.
Feedback from clients is the secret sauce to improving your freelance career. When it comes down to it, the honest feedback that clients can offer, both good and constructive, is invaluable as it provides the insights you need to fine-tune your practice.
If you’re not getting enough of it, you should start asking for it. Whether it is communication style/frequency, project planning, content or finished product – there’s always room to improve. Ask your clients (whom you trust will give you honest and useful feedback) to tell you how you’re doing and if there are areas they think could benefit from improvement.
Additionally, References are a great way to prove your freelancing experience. The more freelance work you successfully do, the higher your profile status becomes. Create a resume as soon as you start freelancing, and continue to edit it with every new client you get, every new accomplishment, and every new skill you pick up.
Gist of Freelancing
As a Freelancer, it is important to keep updating your skill set in order for you to ultimately earn more and land more jobs. You will also need to remain consistent in seeking jobs by sending proposals. You have in this blog learned to successfully pitch whether you are a newbie or experienced.
Other important factors as the chart above show our sincerity to your client and concentration. Do not lie about skills you do not have, also learn to be honest especially when it comes to deadlines. Keep your word. Commitment equals success in the long run.