I get asked by a lot of my friends and people over the internet “How do you become a freelancer?” “Isn’t becoming a freelancer hard?” “Could I be a freelancer?”. So what better way to answer these questions by dedicating a whole post to it! Becoming a Freelancer is hard. I haven’t perfected it myself, I still feel like i’m in the beginning stage and have a long way to go. It can be so challenging and there are days where i’ve been so close to giving up, but when you land a client or sell your work, you remember why you started in the first place.
What is a Freelancer?
A freelancer is a form of self employment, someone who offers a service or product for a certain fee, without working for one particular person. You are your own boss.
The main question I get asked is “But why freelancing? Why don’t you just get a Graphic Design job?” I’ve asked myself this multiple times too. It would be a lot easier for me to get a Graphic Design job with full time income. It would be more stable and structured. However I always go back to thinking “I don’t want to work for someone else and live out their dreams.” Freelancing is a lot more challenging than people think. You are your own boss, so you have to put the work in to find your clients, build your portfolio, get found on Google etc. But its also a lot more rewarding! Knowing that you got that client and they trust you to deliver, rather than working for a company that gets to get all those achievements instead.
As a Freelancer, you also get to choose your own times/place. Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of people think Freelancers have all the spare time in the world, wrong! If you’re wanting to to work as a Freelancer full time, you still need to set aside full time days to work on your business, however you get to do it from the comfort of your own home! I usually get up at about 9am and get working at 10am, with a lunch break in between, I will usually work up until 5pm. However I get to be flexible with myself, if I feel like I’ve achieved double what I usually would in a day, I can choose to stop earlier. Or if I started work at 8am, I can stop at 3pm. That’s not something that’s always possible in a full time job. But again, you do have to be strict with yourself, make sure you set aside a couple of days off to relax,
How Do I Become a Freelancer?
Getting started is one of the hardest parts of freelancing. It can be very daunting as you have no one to tell you if you’re doing everything right. One thing I’ve learnt is that you learn as you go. You have to make mistakes and feel like you’re going to give up in order to push yourself to keep going!
The first things I advice people to do to get started are;
- Decide what it is you want to do. Is it Photography? Graphic Design? Selling your products? Find your passion and niche it down. If you want to be a photographer, what do you want to take photos of? Still life? Portrait?
- Write yourself a business plan. It’s good to put it down on paper what you want to do and where you want to be by a certain time, it’s a lot less daunting when you break it all down and can see it in front of you.
- Make a price list. This is really hard to do as you never know what is the right price to charge. Think of it as how much do you want to make per month? How many clients do you need to achieve this and break it down. You can also look at other local freelancers in the same industry and see how much they charge so that you can get an idea.
- Build a portfolio. You don’t need clients to do this! People always say to me “how am i meant to build my portfolio if i don’t have clients”. If you’re a photographer, go out and take photos and pretend they were for a client. Create a fake brief for you to follow. Get some friends and do a photoshoot and pretend they were a client wanting headshots. Fake it ’til you make it!
- Get yourself a logo and website. The exciting part for you to have fun with is making a brand for yourself. Give your clients something to come back to. Then you can focus on business cards etc a bit later on. They don’t have to be perfect and complex straight away, just get it done and online, then you can improve it as you go! Done is better than perfect, post your work you’ve done so far. You can check my website out for inspiration here.
- Get on Social Media!!! I put this one off for so long, but just do it. Don’t be scared about what others will think, they’ll swallow their words when you’re a successful Freelancer. No one will ever find you if you’re not online. Be consistent too, make sure you’re always posting and making a name for yourself online. No one’s going to see you if you never post and interact. I’ll do a whole blog post on Social Media for Freelancers soon.
- Email and phone potential clients. When you first start out, its very unlikely that clients will come to you. That doesn’t mean you’re not good at what you do, just no one knows who you are yet. Send out emails to local businesses introducing yourself and offer your services to them. Let them know that you’ve just started up and you’re local to them. Even if they reply with ‘thank you! We’ll keep you on record’ or if they don’t reply at all, the likelihood is they’ve seen it and will remember you next time they need a service like yours. Do this with phone calls too, they’re a lot more memorable and will appreciate speaking to a real person, rather than thinking its spam.
Ooo the hard bit. Finding clients can be really difficult and frustrating, but also really rewarding when it does happen. There are many ways to find clients, here are a few to help you get started:
- Family and friends. This is always a good place to get started. 9 times out of 10 you will always know someone who would use your services. Ask them if you’d be able to help them out. Once you’ve worked for them, they can spread the word and let their friends know. Working with one client can start a chain reaction and lead you to 5 more.
- Look within your network. Find local businesses that you feel could use your services, politely get in contact and offer your services to them. As i said before, they may say no or ignore you. Or they may say yes or “another time”. Either way you’ve made yourself known. so make sure to follow up a month or so later if they do say they would like to, but not right now.
- Freelance job sites are very useful. Places such as Upwork and PeoplePerHour are great places to set yup your profile and apply for Freelance jobs in your area.
- Facebook/social media groups. If you look, you will find there are a lot of groups online that are made for Freelancers. Join these groups and introduce yourself. Be consistent in posting your work there and offering your services, as well as supporting other businesses. You’re all in this together, so make friends and be supportive of each other!
Freelance life has a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. Other times you’ll have so many you can feel overwhelmed. All I say is, keep going. When you have no clients, push yourself to go out and find more. When you have enough for the month, don’t stop searching for more people to work with. As soon as you stop looking, you may find yourself with no clients again.
Some people may assume that you work as a Freelancer because you cant get a “real job”. But we all know that there’s nothing more real than being your own boss and starting your own business. I’m not exactly where I want to be yet, but I know that if i keep working hard, I’ll get there! If any of you have any questions about anything, don’t be afraid to ask! I’ll happily chat with you about what i know to help you!