Freelancing is becoming a more and more popular form of work. In 2019, it was reported that 35% of America’s workforce was operating their own freelancing business.
Freelancing comes with a lot of benefits. It can allow you to control your own schedule and work from home (or from just about anywhere). However, it can also come with certain drawbacks, including an unstable source of income, a complicated way of doing taxes, and more.
If you haven’t given freelancing a shot, it may seem intimidating. How do you make that leap?
We’re here to talk about freelancing for beginners. If you’re ready to work for yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out what you need to know to begin freelancing.
Step 1: Pick Your Niche and Hone Your Skills
First thing’s first: you have to pick a niche. Freelancing refers to a business model–working for yourself, working remotely, and taking on new clients under your own direction–not to a specific industry. Under the freelancing umbrella, you’ll find content and copywriters, graphic designers, programmers, IT experts, administrative assistants, and more.
Before you launch a freelancing business, you need to decide what role you intend to fill for businesses. Naturally, it needs to be based on your soft and hard skills.
Good soft skills for freelancers include things like communication skills, time management, and self-motivation. Hard skills tend to relate more to your educational or employment background. If you want to brush up on hard skills, you can find online courses and certification programs that won’t break the bank.
Step 2: Build Experience
If you want to attract clients, you’ll need to be able to back up your skills. This is where you’ll need things like recommendations, LinkedIn endorsements, and a portfolio of previous work.
In some cases, you may be able to pull from the experience you’ve gotten at your previous or current jobs. However, what happens if you’re just starting out in your field?
Websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr can be useful during this time. When you sign up for freelance sites like these ones, you can match yourself with clients who have readily available projects that need to be completed. Sticking with websites like these for six months to a year can help you build your portfolio and back up your experience.
Step 3: Start Networking
Are you ready to start finding clients of your own without the middleman? Then it’s time to start networking.
Create solid, professional marketing materials like a website and business cards. Head to local industry events to start meeting small business owners and talking to them about their project needs. Give them your information and make sure that you’re really selling yourself!
You can also take the cold call approach, which you’ll grow more comfortable with over time. Essentially, this is the process of sending out queries to businesses that may benefit from your services. You may not hear back from everyone, but this can be an effective way to build connections and gain clients.
Freelancing For Beginners Bonus Tips
Building a freelancing career can be very niche-specific. It also tends to come with a learning curve and there’s often no better way to learn and grow than to do. However, this ultimate guide will help you prepare for some of those niche-specific hurdles you may encounter along the way.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at a few bonus tips that will set you up for success.
Start With Part-Time Freelancing
It’s hard to comfortably build your own business when your finances aren’t stable. When you’re starting out as a freelancer, you may find that your income is all over the place. Some months, you simply might not make enough to cover your expenses.
To curb some of that potential financial frustration, start part-time. Maintain a salaried or hourly position to make sure that your income isn’t in jeopardy. Alternatively, don’t start a full-time freelancing career until you have at least six months of your typical income saved.
Stay On Top of Taxes
One thing that can be a little disheartening about freelancing is dealing with taxes. Chances are, you’re used to taxes coming directly out of your paycheck. During tax season, all you really need to do is provide information from your W2 and wait for your tax return.
It doesn’t quite work that way when your income comes from freelancing. The best move is to pay estimated quarterly income taxes and adjust as needed. To protect your finances, you may want to start a separate savings account and put about 1/4th of each paycheck aside for taxes–yes, it can be that high.
Cultivate a Real Workspace
Some people go into a remote freelancer lifestyle with their hearts set on working wherever they want. This is certainly part of the freedom freelancing affords. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t cultivate a real workspace and routine.
Most days, you probably won’t be doing graphic design from a hotel suite or a cabin. You’ll be working in your home or in a rented-out office space. We strongly recommend creating a work setup that is comfortable, practical, and effective at minimizing distractions.
Start Working For Yourself This Year
Are you ready to start working for yourself? We hope that this guide to freelancing for beginners has given you a sense of what to expect and how to prepare for the early months of freelancing. Now, it’s up to you to make your dreams come true!
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