A study conducted in collaboration with Upwork and Freelancers Union revealed that 64% of the freelancers find work online.
Considering technology is becoming increasingly common, it’s not that hard to believe. People, nowadays, are taking full advantage of online work opportunities.
However, finding work online can be a bit of an issue if you don’t know how and where to start.
In this article, we’ll talk about freelance tips for beginners. These tips will help you establish yourself in the ever-growing freelance market.
Define Your Professional Skills
First of all, you have to determine what you’re good at and which service you’re going to offer.
Now, you might be wondering: how do I figure this out? Well, there are two ways to do so. Firstly, you should see if you can put your education to use.
For instance, if you’re a lawyer, game designer, or a business graduate, you can provide freelance services falling in your field of study.
Secondly, you can use personal skills and polish them. For example, if you’ve always had a knack for taking pictures, you can take a short course on color grading and Photoshop online.
Then, you can offer photo editing services as a freelancer.
Try to keep your reach narrow, though. The more concise your market is, the higher the chances of finding work.
Freelancing sites are densely populated with people looking for work.
If you market yourself as a ‘Photoshop photo editor,’ you’re likely to get lost in the sea of people already offering the same service.
Instead, if you narrow it down to ‘portrait retouching’ or ‘background removal,’ your gigs are likely to pop up when someone searches specifically for them. Once you have a considerable clientele and a constant stream of work, you can always think about broadening your services.
Polish Your Skills
Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement.
In the study mentioned earlier, 70% of the freelancers said that they had taken a skills training course in the past six months.
It’s clear that even professional freelancers are constantly improving themselves and enhancing their skills.
If you think there isn’t much to learn in your particular field, you can learn related things. For instance, if you’ve already learned everything you need about Photoshop, maybe you could try your hand at Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing.
In this way, you can expand your skillset over time. More skills mean you can cater to a broader market.
You can take free online courses on Udemy and Coursera for subjects like business, law, economics, etc.
If your skill is art-related, you’ll find a suitable course on Skillshare. The website has thousands of classes from freelance artists, so you’ll learn about art and freelancing.
For all it’s worth, YouTube is also an incredible platform to learn new things and hone your skills.
After you’ve learned or identified your skills, it’s time to find clients. Now, there are many ways to market yourself effectively.
If you intend to find work online, some popular sites are:
Almost all online freelancing platforms are free and take a cut from your earnings instead. Set up a profile and start looking for work.
Make sure you follow the instructions for each platform and optimize your profile for higher visibility. Use a professional picture. Selfies are not going to land you serious clients. Check if the payment methods are suitable for your country.
To get the hang of a particular freelancing platform, be present in the forums.
No matter what query you have, you’ll find the answer in the community forums. Besides, there are tutorials on YouTube filled with freelance tips for beginners on different freelancing sites.
It might come as a surprise to most people, but you can also find work offline.
Look around for people who might need you. For example, if you’ve previously worked as a legal advisor and now, you’ve quit your job, ask colleagues and friends if they know someone who might require your services.
Alternatively, you can go to the clients yourself. Put your business card in real estate agencies as buyers need legal help to draft documents and form contracts.
Moreover, look in the good old Classifieds. Even today, the newspapers have a Classifieds page. Who knows, you might find your first client there.
One of the vital freelance tips for beginners that most people tend to overlook is contract formation.
Don’t work on word of mouth just because you’re working as a freelancer. Make contracts for all your projects. Here are a few things to add in any contract:
- Parties involved
- Scope of work
- A confidentiality agreement, if applicable.
- Payment method, date, and amount
Within your contracts, determine what is the most appropriate hourly or fixed rate to charge. Get smarter on what you charge by using this freelance hourly rate calculator.
Create a Work Ethic
In the Freelancers Union-Upwork study, 51% of the freelancers said that they wouldn’t take up a traditional job for any amount of money.
The reluctance to give up freelancing is mainly due to the freedom that comes with it. As a freelancer, you set your own work rules.
You can decide how many days and hours you want to work in a week.
While this might sound liberating at first, it could be a curse for productivity. Most people are not fully equipped with the determination and work ethic needed to work on their own.
Therefore, when you step into freelancing, you need to create a work ethic for yourself.
For example, set the number of days in a week and hours in a day you want to work. How many days would you take off in a month? What time of the day would you prefer working?
If you don’t manage your time well, you’ll find yourself on your laptop at 3 am, trying to finish a due task in two hours.
Make rules for yourself and then, condition yourself to follow them.
It’s best to use the reward methodology to convince your brain to do better. For example, you can take a break every two hours. Alternatively, you can create small milestones in a particular project and take a break when you reach one.
Most importantly, you have to minimize distractions.
Keep your phone on silent or in a different room when working. If you share a living space, try to work away from people.
Find a Working Space
Freelancing does not always mean working from home. However, if you do work from home, make sure you have a proper space.
Often, your family is under the impression that since you’re working from home, you’re available to do chores and talk.
Make it clear that for certain hours in the day, your room is off-limits.
If you don’t have a work desk, work on any table you can find. Try to avoid working from the bed because that doesn’t always end well in terms of productivity.
Having a particular spot for daily work helps in conditioning your brain to focus as soon as you’re in the vicinity.
Also, dress up for work even if you’re working from your bedroom. Get out of your pajamas and wear something presentable.
Wearing proper clothes helps boost work efficiency and self-image.
Since you’re at home, you can take a few liberties. Light a candle or play music in the background if it helps you focus.
Nowadays, you can also find co-working spaces in your area and go to work there if your home is too noisy or crowded.
You can also work in a coffee shop or café, but it will add to your expenditure. Most cafes expect you to buy something to sit there.
For some gigs, such as freelance makeup artists, you might have to be on a set or studio.
If you’re working in such a field, train yourself to adapt to different workspaces. It will help you be on the top of your game wherever you go.
Build Your Portfolio
One of the most important freelance tips for beginners is to build a portfolio. As a beginner, you should be ready to work for less or even for free, in some instances.
However, don’t let anyone take advantage or exploit you.
Build a portfolio of your best works to attract more clients. In freelancing, your portfolio speaks louder than your educational background and even testimonials.
You can make an online portfolio for free on Behance, Dribble, or PortfolioBox.
Depending on your work, you can also use Facebook and Instagram as your portfolio. For example, if you’re a photographer, make an Instagram account to showcase your work.
Similarly, if you’re a freelance content writer, start your blog and use it as a portfolio.
Grow Your Network
Just like in any other field, networking is crucial in freelancing. Make sure you have contacts with people in your field of work.
For example, if you work as a freelance web designer, join related Facebook groups. If you’ve always freelanced without using a freelance platform, consider joining one of these best freelance websites to diversify your business and network.
Along with creating a sense of community, this also keeps you in touch with people who can help you.
These groups will often inform you about any upcoming events, change in policies, free courses, tips for business, etc.
Give Your Best
Last but not least, do your best. If you do satisfactory work, your client might refer you to someone further.
Referrals are a great way to network and find new clients.
Besides, by doing your best work, you’ll be enhancing your portfolio. Let your skills speak for you.
Although technology has made freelancing easier, you need much more than just a laptop to earn a handsome amount.
Work ethic, networking, referrals, freelancing sites, and skill-enhancement are all equally, if not more, important.
By following the freelance tips for beginners in this guide, you’ll start your freelancing journey with ease. No matter what comes your way, keep going on because that is how all the successful people finally made it.
What are your favorite freelance tips for beginners? Leave a comment below.