Starting Your Own Business as a Freelancer: A Step-by-Step Guide

After spending four years and a significant investment in higher education, it is often assumed that the remainder of one’s career will involve working in an office within a few corporations in a series of cubicles. However, in many countries, independent freelancers – many of whom have internet-based occupations – now comprise a significant proportion of the workforce. While successful freelancers may be able to pick and choose their assignments, entry-level workers may be drawn to the flexibility that freelancing offers due to fears of being laid off in the future. This article will provide useful information for those just starting out as a freelancer, offering advice on whether freelancing is the right option, how much to charge, where to look for work, and the skills needed to succeed.

Before committing to freelancing, it is important to consider whether it is the right choice for you. If you are currently employed, it is recommended that you try freelancing part-time before making the decision to switch to full-time freelancing. Additionally, it is beneficial to have a few more projects lined up in advance to ensure a steady flow of income. It is vital to be aware of any common misconceptions associated with freelancing, to ensure that you make the right decision.

Freelancing is a profession and should be approached as such, not as a hobby. Many successful freelancers get their start by working part-time in a field they enjoy. Despite the fact that this may be a rewarding experience, it still requires professional commitment. When dealing with customers, you must be prepared to honour your commitments and complete the work as required. Many freelancers have failed because they did not take the job seriously, which can have a damaging impact on their professional reputation.

Freelancers often dedicate more hours per week than regular employees, due to the additional responsibilities such as self-promotion, managing multiple assignments simultaneously, and negotiating fees. In exchange, they can benefit from higher remuneration and greater freedom.

As a freelancer, you will no longer be rewarded solely for attendance. Instead, businesses see you as an individual resource to be used strategically and efficiently. This can be beneficial in terms of recognition, however, you must demonstrate results in order to justify your remuneration. It is no longer the case that you are just another component in the system, with a fixed salary regardless of productivity.

As a freelancer, you will need to actively seek out customers in order to be paid. This is not a rigid regulation, but a rule of thumb that experienced freelancers understand. Although some people may be able to choose the assignments they desire, newcomers often have to apply for work, explain why they are qualified and hope to be chosen. It can take some time to build up a reputation, and it is not uncommon for newcomers to work for free initially to get their foot in the door. However, if you are still determined to pursue this path, then you should take the advice given.

Acquire Sufficient Means, Both Hardware and Software

It can be tempting to rely solely on a smartphone for business tasks, but this is not the most practical approach. As a freelancer, having a laptop or desktop computer is essential for tasks beyond basic messaging. A laptop or desktop offers a larger screen, an actual keyboard and additional computing power that is needed for more complex tasks.

When it comes to software, there are certain programs that are essential for freelancers, in addition to the equipment they use. Examples of these include:

  1. Software and Time Clocks

    Freelancers utilize tools such as Bonsai and Top Tracker to log their projects, and the hours invested in them. This is especially useful for those who are remunerated on an hourly basis, as it provides verifiable evidence of the work they have completed.
  2. Faster-Rating Communication Websites

    Slack is a widely recognized option for team communication amongst freelancers, however Skype and Google Hangouts are also viable options which can be utilized to reduce the number of chaotic email threads.
  3. Data Storing on the Cloud

    Freelancers can use cloud storage services to safely store and share client and project files. Google Drive is a great option as it also has associated programs which can be used to edit related file types (including documents, spreadsheets and presentations). This makes it a suitable mobile workspace. Other options, such as Dropbox, are also available.
  4. Sites for Digital Instructional Programs

    This is especially beneficial for those who are new to the field and require new skills to further their development, as well as tutorial-based freelancers who advertise their services, usually for a fee.

    Tools like password safes, online compilers, multimedia editors, etc., are also handy.

      Learn How to Make Money as a Freelancer by Acquiring Marketable Skills

      As a freelancer, it is important to remember that the skills and knowledge you have today may not have been present when you first started out. It is essential to find a specialisation that is right for you, be it due to your proficiency, enjoyment or because there is a market for it. This will provide you with a strong foundation from which to build your career.

      Freelancing in the programming field is becoming increasingly popular. Regardless of the type of programming you specialize in, whether it be app development, web development, UI/UX design or game design, there are job opportunities available. This is in part due to the significant amount of time and effort it takes to become proficient in the subject. Therefore, both traditional and online courses are provided to teach the material. As a new freelancer, it is important to be open to learning new skills, as various jobs may require specialized knowledge. Additionally, the video game industry has been criticized for its allegedly toxic workplaces, long hours and intense “crunch time”. Whilst independent or smaller businesses are expected to compete in a crowded market and manage a large workload.

      Freelancers can benefit from a range of opportunities due to their writing abilities. Writing content for websites, ebooks, blogs and other online media can be a lucrative income for the freelance copywriter. SEO is a common technique employed in digital marketing, and content producers can take the form of academic writers, technical writers or marketing content writers. In short, having a talent for words can be a rewarding venture. Freelancers may find employment in a broad selection of fields, including writing blog posts, essays and other forms of copy.

      Data science analytical roles are in high demand and require a high level of education and preparation in mathematics. Although Microsoft Excel is sufficient for the technical requirements, it is beneficial for the freelancer to be familiar with the various database management tools available. As the focus is on data analysis, these roles can be categorised as financial rather than technical.

      Freelancers in the design industry have a broad array of roles to choose from, such as web designers, logo designers, product designers, animators, and illustrators. Those who wish to pursue a career in one of the first three must be proficient in the relevant design software, while the latter two roles necessitate a good working knowledge of front-end design. As such, it is paramount that those working in the industry have both the necessary technical skills and creativity.

      Moving on to our second main topic, let’s discuss the freelancer workplace, the ideal place to find freelance work online. Creating a LinkedIn profile should be the first step. Many organisations are present on this platform, and for many individuals, this is their primary source for locating freelance work outside of other platforms. In addition to the networking opportunities, this is a great way to find online employment, as many employers who don’t use paid platforms advertise on LinkedIn instead.

      If you are seeking freelance work outside of your current specialism, it may be beneficial to explore opportunities beyond the well-known platforms such as Upwork. While long-term professionals may benefit from these services, they can be difficult for newcomers to penetrate due to the high competition. Whilst niche sites can yield promising results, it is worthwhile investigating alternative platforms to determine if there are any better suited to your skillset.

      Perfect Your Freelancing Abilities

      Freelancers recognise that the best way to acquire new skills is through practical experience. It is important to have a solid understanding and skill base before gaining experience. Taking control of one’s own learning and development is a key step in obtaining or creating the necessary skills. Many websites providing e-learning also act as a platform for freelancing. While the courses may be seen as a bonus, they are typically of a high quality. Furthermore, some courses are available online via companies such as Udemy and SkillShare for a fee, which may require a membership. Alternatively, there are numerous free courses available from these sites, as well as a wealth of free resources on YouTube which may require only the cost of internet access and any necessary equipment.

      Various strategies are available, each with its own advantages, based on the nature of the task. Different writing styles can be acquired, as can the use of WordPress and the inclusion of visuals. If you are a freelance programmer, you should seek to learn other languages, or at least additional frameworks and libraries for the languages you already know.

      Do Some Thing to Prove It Works

      Having a portfolio of your best work is essential if you are serious about making a living as a freelancer. This should begin as early as your internship year in college and continue through your graduate studies, taking on projects that demonstrate your skills. Including college-level work in your portfolio is also recommended. As a freelancer, it is important to ensure your portfolio is kept up-to-date, as it is often essential when applying for higher-paying roles in the future. For example, developers can include projects in their portfolio to show their skills, while writers can submit guest articles to be included. You can also build your own website to showcase your abilities. When starting out, new freelancers may need to charge less and focus on the clients they do have. In rare cases, experienced but undiscovered contractors may offer to work for free in exchange for experience and exposure.

      Establish a Price Range and a Budget

      As a rookie independent contractor, it is important to ensure that your services are accurately priced for clients. Before beginning your search for a customer, it is essential to set a firm financial goal. When creating a spending plan, you should decide whether to use a fixed rate or an hourly rate. Fixed rates can be quoted to customers regardless of the time spent, while hourly rates can be adjusted to reflect the cost of work that needs to be redone. Alternatively, set rates offer more flexibility when allocating time to multiple tasks.

      When budgeting for a project, a common starting point is to work on it for a standard 40-hour workweek. The total cost for the project can be estimated by multiplying it by a factor of two or three, and then dividing it by 40 hours. It is also worth researching what similar professionals are charging for similar work on freelancing websites, such as GlassDoor and LinkedIn. If needed, the customer can be consulted to determine a price for the project and then a negotiation could be undertaken.

      When negotiating, begin with a reasonable rate and add a 10% premium. If the price of the job needs to be reduced, agree to do so, but ensure the rate remains above the original figure. Do not try to undervalue your services in order to secure the job as this could mean missing out on a more lucrative opportunity.

      Finally, make sure that the price of any additional work is addressed in advance to prevent nonpayment issues arising from scope creep.

      Get Your Name Out There to the Customer

      By creating online proposals for projects, presentations or brochures, you can demonstrate your skills and market yourself to potential customers. All mediums should include key details such as the job description, your approach as a freelancer, a timeline and cost estimate.

      Freelancer platforms can help inexperienced workers to streamline the job application process, however, submitting a CV is still a common requirement. This is especially true for freelancers applying to international organisations in unrelated fields, who may struggle to create a resume that is either too sparse or too detailed. Without a well-structured CV, many qualified freelancers may not receive the opportunity for an interview. There are tools available, such as resume-editing services, as well as pre-made documents in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and other programs, to help support the creation of an effective resume.

      It is likely that a video interview will be required, so it is recommended that you ensure your video conferencing skills are up to date, research the client company, and present yourself in the most favourable way in order to make a positive impression on the customers.

      We Wish You the Best of Luck!

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