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A Guide on How to Become a Successful Freelancer

July 20, 2023

A Guide on How to Become a Successful Freelancer

Ditching your 9-to-5 routine to become a freelancer and build a successful career? Freelancing is becoming a respected alternative career. Currently, there are approximately 1.6 billion freelancers in the world today and these numbers are constantly growing. (Techjury statistics)

This guide will help you to understand the basics on your way to success.

How to become a successful freelancer

Advantages of freelancing

Being a freelancer offers several advantages, and for many people, these advantages outweigh the drawbacks:

No boss = no problems 👨🏼‍💼

  • One of the reasons people choose to freelance over “regular” work is for the ability to call the shots. You are the boss — you can shape your business and take it in the direction you wish. You are only accountable to yourself and do not have to deal with any of the “politics” present in a traditional work environment. 

Pricetag is fully yours 💵

  • Do you ever feel that you do a lot of heavy-lifting for just average pay when others are earning more than you? As a freelancer, you set your prices based on your expertise and the value provided. And, best of all, all the profit goes straight to you.

Choose who to work with 🔮

  • Once you’ve built a reputation as a freelancer in your niche, you can pick and choose the people and projects you want to work with. You don’t have to worry about being assigned a client that is a pain or a project that is just dull. 

Flexible hours

  • As a freelancer, you can pretty much work whenever you want as long as the job gets done. The traditional work hours are not the best for some people who are more efficient in the evenings. Parents can adjust their work-schedule based on childcare availability. Additionally, flexible work hours significantly improve your work-life balance.

Disadvantages of working as a freelancer

Of course you could face a lot of challenges on your way of becoming a successful freelancer:

No stability 📭

One of the biggest downsides of freelancing is that there is no guarantee that you will have a regular and reliable income. Your workload may be inconsistent, so you may be left with a small paycheck. 

Clients will not come to you, you need to work on it 🕵🏻‍♀️

Unlike an agency or business that assigns you projects and work, as a freelancer, it is your responsibility to find work. You have to put in the legwork to get your name out there. You must network, establish connections, and constantly search for clients. 

You are a one-person show 🤹‍♀️

You are not part of a company with a department for accounting, marketing, IT, etc. As a freelancer, you take care of your bookkeeping, administration tasks, and marketing. Some opt to hire assistants to help with those tasks, but you usually have to do it all when you start.  

People will try to “get a deal” 🆓

You have to get comfortable negotiating and proving your worth. Many will try to get a deal from you and undervalue your services. 

So how to become a successful freelancer?

You’ve weighed the pros and cons and have decided to go for it. Now, how do you start?

We've created a series of courses on how to start, where to start, how to sell yourself, etc. If you're a newbie, you can check our Freelance fundamentals course, if you're an experienced freelancer and want to charge more for your projects - try Advanced freelancing course.

Everyone’s journey is different, but here are the basics to set you in the right direction. Whether you want to jump in with both feet or you want to start freelancing on the side while working a traditional job.

1. Create a "salesy" service 💼

Determine what are you going to do? What services do you provide? Web design, accounting or financial services? Try hard and make you services sound "salesy". We know it's easy to talk about it but you must do it in order to start your freelancing journey.

Mobile app development service

The next step is about defining your target audience and niche 👩‍👦‍👦. Think of your ideal client. Where do they live, what do they do for work, what type of business they are in, what do they like to do?

The more specific you are, the better you’ll be able to find them and speak to them. This is your niche. Instead of targeting the full market, select a segment of that market and specialize in it.  When you establish a niche you soon become known as an expert in a certain field, which will make you stand out from the competition.

2. A stunning portfolio with testimonials 🌠

First impression matters, always. No matter the service you are offering, every potential client will ask to see samples of your work.

First, gather the pieces that reflect your best work and put them on a shareable Dropbox or Google Drive folder. If you haven’t had any client work you can add, use the work you’ve created to practice. Every gig you work on can then build up your portfolio.

Portfolio website example

If you want to find not just good looking, but incredibly beautiful examples, check these resources:

If you don't know how to start, you can try our Building a stunning freelancer's portfolio course - where we talk about custom development and website builders, what to have on website, how to use best SEO practices and how to ask for receive good reviews for your reputation.

So what about reviews ? 📝

A good review sells. When prospects see that previous clients are singing your praises they’ll be more likely to trust your services and hire you.

Here is a quick guide on how to gather testimonials:

  1. Show your friends, colleagues, parents your work and ask for testimonials. Someone will say it's fake, no, it's not because they can also be your first clients.
  2. Provide some work for free or one-time-only discount rate in exchange for reviews. You can use websites like reddit/quora, industry communities, freelance platforms, etc.
  3. Get creative, you can do everything that comes to your mind - buy feedbacks, offer promo in exchange for feedback, but not lie (there are clients who can check if your feedback is real or not).

3. Know your worth 💎

A big mistake new freelancers make is greatly underpricing their services to get their foot in the door. The issue with this practice is that once you do it, it is a hard hole to get out from. Think about it, you don’t want to be hired because you are the cheapest, you want to be hired because you are the best.

And remember, don’t compete with price, compete with value and stay true to it. Set a competitive price that reflects your experience, and the value you add. Understanding these things from the beginning will build your personal brand pretty quickly.

4. Work on getting clients 🧑🏻‍💼

Possibly the most intimidating part of freelancing is approaching people to sell your service. But, once you get that first client, not only will your confidence grow but so will your reputation. To get your first client, ask yourself “where is my target audience most present?”. Are they B2B executives?

How to get clients for freelancer?

Where to search for clients?

  1. LinkedIn groups, communities
  2. Facebook groups
  3. Instagram, TikTok for B2C
  4. Face-to-face industry events, meetups
  5. Forums, communities such as Reddit, Quora, etc.
  6. Freelance marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr and others
  7. Telegram groups
  8. Discord channels
  9. Email marketing using database of emails (for example college students)
  10. Word-of-mouth (referrals)
  11. Cold outreach (buy or find a database of potential clients)
  12. Job boards like Indeed, Glasdoor and others
  13. Trade shows and exibitions
  14. Other methods

But if you're still hesitating on how to start, we highly recommend our Freelance fundamentals course. We won't say a word about it anymore, just check it and you will understand why we're promoting it so hard.

Your freedom is worth your time that you're spending on freelancing. But start freelancing is not worth a dime.

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