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The How & Why of Becoming a Freelancer with Details for 2021

Nov 18, 2020
(updated: Dec 1, 2022)
Max 5 min read

For many, freelancing is the ultimate dream! 

You get to sit in your sweat pants, work from home, and the clients come in rolling in. Right? Not quite!

Well, you’re right about sitting at home and working in your sweat pants. But if you think that’s all freelancing requires, you’re mistaken. 

Just like any other job, freelancing takes a ton of energy, dedication, and time. It actually takes more time than most jobs because you’re the boss. Everything falls to you. 

All freelancers have been in your position before when they were just starting out, including myself, so I’ve crafted the ultimate guide to help decide if freelancing is right for you, and if so, how to get started.

Should I Freelance?

Before deciding to take the leap and start freelancing, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Freelancing is a huge step in your career, so be sure it’s right for the move. Yes, you get to be your own boss and in charge of everything. But then again, you’re your own boss and in charge of everything.

That’s a lot of responsibility and hustling. As a freelancer, one client isn’t enough, you’ll constantly need to be hustling and looking for your next client. It can be stressful and overwhelming, but on the upside, there is so much freedom and flexibility that comes with it.

The Pros

Freelancing gives you an incredible opportunity to work for yourself, decide what clients to work with, and to be your own boss.

Plus, there are so many different fields one can freelance in -- writing, graphic design, content marketing, digital marketing, social media, etc. The list is endless. You get to decide where your skills are suited best.

As a freelancer, you are the business owner. You make all the decisions regarding the business, finances, and the creative direction. This can be incredibly appealing as you only need to answer to yourself.

No more 9-5 day jobs, micromanaging bosses, limited vacation days, or set hours. If you want to work in sweat pants all day, go for it. It’s all up to you!

The Cons

It’s all up to you.

You need to make sure your bottom line is met and you constantly have enough clients and projects to sustain your lifestyle.

Sometimes freelancing will mean longer hours, giving up personal time, uncertainty, and fear of the unknown. These can be scary thoughts for someone just starting out, so really consider this. 

There is no certainty in freelancing. It’s not like a normal full time job. You don’t know where your next client or freelance job will come from. Sometimes there will be a stretch of time where there are no gigs and finances are tight. 

Other times, you’ll be so slammed with projects, you won’t know which way is right or left. That’s just the beast of freelancing. You need to accept this uncertainty, especially in the beginning, if you’re going to embark on this journey.

The world of freelancing can be a scary one, but it’s also an amazing one full of so much opportunity.

If you’re able to accept this and are ready to jump in, follow the below steps.

How to Get Started Freelancing

Get the Word Out

To have a successful freelance career, you’re going to need clients. But where do you get clients? What’s the secret? 

Sadly, there is no secret. It really comes down to your own network and connections. Knowing this, it’s important to tell everyone you know that you’re beginning to freelance. Literally everyone.

If you don’t let anyone that you’ve embarked on this new journey, no one will know they should reach out if they need help with a project. Post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Trust me, this isn’t overkill. Make it clear that you’re actively looking for work. 

Also, be sure to tell your friends, family, acquaintances, ex-bosses, old coworkers, and even that one random guy you always see in line at the store. I’m being serious when I say, tell EVERYONE. 

Every person you tell is a potential client, so the more people you tell, the more clients you could possibly land.

Create a Website

Once the word is out, potential clients will reach out about possible freelance gigs. 

One of the first places a client will look to see if you’re right for the job is at your website. If you don’t have a website yet, build one right now! Add all your relevant information and any great work samples.

Freelancing can be a bit of a Catch 22. If you don’t have clients, how do you get experience and high quality work to add to your website? This is one of those tricky questions that all freelancers must face.

If you’re just starting out, remember it’s okay to do favors or work for free in exchange for work samples, references, or great testimonials.

I know this is a HUGE topic of debate amongst freelancers and many people would never encourage you to work for free. I’m ALL for getting paid what you’re worth, but in order to freelance, you need experience. And if you don’t have experience, and you’re not being hired because of it, this might be a good option.

Build Your Personal Brand

As a freelancer, you’re not selling a product, you’re selling yourself. Clients will need to collaborate with you day in-and day-out, so if you’re not someone they can see themselves successfully collaborating with, you’ll likely not get the job.

YOU are your brand. Remember, you don’t work for a company, you work for yourself. When clients pay for your services, they are hiring you. 

It might not be fair, but clients want to work with someone they like and trust. If you don’t have a solid personal brand that outlines exactly what you’re selling, clients might look the other way.

Get specific and really fine-tune your personal brand and services. Freelancing is amazing because you can offer your expertise in several different areas, but if you’re too broad and don’t narrow down your field, you probably won’t be considered an expert in any field.

Clients should want to work with you for both your personal brand and expertise. 

If you’re a freelance writer, what’s your speciality? Health & Fitness, Beauty, Tech, etc. If the answer is all three, get more specific. Position yourself as an expert in your specific niche and build a personal brand around that.

Find Freelance Work

Now that you’ve completed the above steps, it’s time to start looking for your first clients. You’ve already gotten the word out, so you may be getting a few bites. If not, get even more creative. A great place to look for potential clients is on social media!

There are several freelancing facebook groups that are a gold mine of freelance opportunities. Plus, by joining these groups, you can find your freelance community, which is so important for any freelancer. 

Also, look on Twitter or LinkedIn and see if anyone you know is looking for someone to help them with work. 

Finding freelance clients is one of the hardest parts of freelancing, but it’s also exciting, because you never know where they are going to come from. You might be speaking with someone in line for coffee and before you know it, BOOM, you’ve got another client.

Just remember to keep at it. Continue getting the word out. Keep scouring social media for potential opportunities. Research the competition and see what’s working for them, and then try to employ some of those same tactics. 

Freelancing isn’t always an easy lifestyle, but it’s an incredibly rewarding one. Keep hustling! Soon you’ll find that you’re able to freelance full time, like myself, and can completely sustain yourself on your freelance income alone.

 If I could do it, trust me, you can do it too!

Get started today!

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