4 Steps I Followed to Successfully Start My Freelancing Career
Before becoming a full time freelancer, I spent some time researching the best possible way to do something like that. Even though I had years of experience in my profession, I was more than aware that moving from a local to a global market was not something to underestimate.
I was already familiar with the best freelancing websites where I could find new job gigs, so the only thing missing was a plan on how to switch from my regular job to a freelancing career.
So what’s the best way to start working as a freelancer?
Whether you are only beginning with freelancing after college, switching to freelancing career from your full time job or simply looking for new career opportunities, here are 4 steps I advise you to follow in order to get it right, and stand out in the freelance market.
1. Analyse Your Situation and Prepare for a Change
The freelance market can be very competitive. You have to know what you are doing.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Think about your strengths, your fields of interests and focus on them.
One of the reasons I started doing freelancing is freedom. Having the ability to choose only the clients and projects I want is extremely important to me. In that way my skills are fully used, and not only do I obtain the best results, but I also get to build a foundation for future collaborations.
Aside from freedom, another reason is growth. Think about the direction you want your freelancing career to go in:
- Who do you want to be in one or five years?
- What do you need to do to reach this goal?
Keep that in mind while applying for new jobs, investing in online courses or downloading and reading eBooks. Join local meet up groups and hang out with people who are doing things that matter.
Prepare yourself for growth. Analyze your present situation; think about the direction you want your career and life to go in. In order to achieve your goals, you need to learn to recognize opportunities to do so.
2. Set Up Your Online Presence
The following step is setting up your online presence. My advice is to focus on one freelancing market, depending on your profession, but don’t completely ignore other websites that offer freelancing opportunities.
Every website will guide you through the process of completing your profile. Their rules and advices are easy to follow, but having a 100% completed profile is not enough. Remember your strengths and goals from Step One?
Have them in mind while you’re constructing, or reconstructing, your online presence. Show your past experience and knowledge by hinting at your strengths and goals. You also need to present your current situation and future opportunities that you’re aiming for.
- Leverage your other work experience, education and causes with LinkedIn profile
- Create Dribble profile (for designers)
- Create GitHub profile (for coders)
Personal website with portfolio is not necessary in the beginning, but keep that idea in mind for your future plans.
3. Research Clients and Personalise Proposals
One of the most common mistakes beginners in freelancing make is applying for every job that’s out there. Most of us experienced similar situations, but the initial excitement often quickly fades, and you’re left with cheap clients with bad communication skills and high expectations. Don’t do that.
How to find the right job and client?
Invest some time in researching a potential client’s profile before applying for the job. Look for these details:
- Hire history
- Feedback history
- Personal details
You want to know whether the particular client hires regularly, is he new to your freelancing website etc. Communication and expectations may vary depending on this. But don’t be afraid of new clients, sometimes they are great for building a long term professional relationship.
Your rating and feedback are very important for getting new jobs when needed. Take a look at the rating and feedback that the client is getting from other freelancers they worked with, but also the rating and feedback that they are giving. You can find out a lot just by taking a quick look at this information.
Client’s personal details I’m interested in the most are location (specific time zone), interests and anything I might be able to relate and connect to.
How to write a personalised proposal?
You want your proposals to be flawless. In order to stand out, show your potential clients that you understand them and give them a reason to check out your proposal in details.
- Give them a reason to have a second look at your proposal
How? Always write a personalized cover letter. Be specific on how your service can help them execute and reach specific business goals. Point out any relevant work experience you had before this proposal, and even give them some hints and ideas on how you will approach this particular job. Try to leave warm and engaging feelings in your application.
- Be specific
- Relevant work experience
- Hints and ideas
Your goal is to establish a long-term relationship with good clients resulting in a steady business. Just like someone once told me: “Forget about what clients spent yesterday, and start asking yourself how much they might be willing to invest in high quality work today”.
After few months of successful job proposals, your Upwork stats should look something like this:
Once you got the job, there will be many obstacles on the way, especially if you’re new to freelancing. We’ve previously covered 10 of the most common freelancing mistakes, and we also wrote about how to avoid them:
We will cover this part of freelancing more in the future, so feel free to check our Growth, Tips and Productivity categories. Also, on our Resources page you can find a lot of useful links that will make your life as a freelancer and digital nomad much easier.