Becoming A Freelancer
Freelancing is the new career trend
Usually when we hear freelancing, we think working from exotic locations, making bank on everything posted online, living the life you see in the excellently crafted stock images posted to a freelancers social media.
This is reality for some. Working remotely does give you the freedom to work from anywhere. Some people do make a lot of money from posting online, and I’ve seen some pretty nice home offices!
Almost anyone with a distinct skill can work as a freelancer, with the exception of some professions… like a doctor.
I’d like to share my journey to freelancing with all the tips and tricks I feel will help those of you interested in taking the plunge feel more informed.
BE A RESOURCE, NOT A SALES PITCH
Starting a career in Freelancing
There are all kinds of situations that get you into thinking about freelancing, such as being home to take care of your family, ability to travel, not liking people -or hey, lets be real here, your actual job- or your chosen profession isn’t hiring out in the wild. Whatever the reason is, taking those first steps are exciting, but also terrifying.
Step One - Identify your skill set
This is, of course, the most important step in becoming a freelancer. If you don’t have anything to offer people, how will they hire you?
Take me for example, I am a Web Designer. I didn’t exactly start out as a designer, but my passion led me here.
It was fun to learn but I couldn’t see myself doing it full time. I was writing a blog at the time and suddenly the lightbulb went off. I could make WordPress websites.
It all went up hill from here.
At this point, once you have scoped your skill set into what you know you love and would want to do, start compiling your portfolio.
For me, this wasn’t doable. I didn’t have any previous work to share. I mean, I did have a sketchbook of profile designs I did when I was 16 that I coded in iFrame for gamers in exchange for virtual coins. Foreshadowing for my future career. Those, however, would not convince people to pay me money to make them a website.
If you’re starting fresh like I did, don’t panic, you can still make it. It will take a little longer but it’s worth it, trust me.
Step Two - Research
It’s not as easy as proclaiming “I’m a freelancer”, we need to figure out your fees, your platform, how you’re going to market yourself. There are a few options that you can do one or all of.
Join freelancing websites (fiverr, upwork, freelancer)
Create an instagram for business only
Find local freelance agencies
Facebook business page
Make and hand out business cards
Find networking platforms
When I first started my freelancing adventure, I joined Fiverr.com and created a gig stating I would set up a WordPress website for $20. I got my first customer within a few days and then she referred her sister. Go to my portfolio page where you can see their twin websites using the Soledad template. I was lucky and these two lovely ladies hired me to manage their blogs for a flat rate each month. This was the starting point to my entire career.
Before starting on a freelance website, search other gigs that are in the same scope of work so you can see examples of portfolios and fees.
Social Media Presence
Creating social media is always an important avenue to take. Even if growing a following takes time, at least your name is out there and you can build up.
There is an entire community of freelancers on Instagram that support and embrace other like minded people. These are your people, go find them!
I recently connected with Caitlin McAllister, freelance copywriter and owner of the blog Desk Life Project. She is located in England and myself in Canada but we have a business friendship all because she posted an instagram story about working from home and having loud neighbours living above her.
I’m working on an eCourse that will be helpful for running your own Instagram as well as diving into the field of social media management. Subscribe up top to be notified when this course is available!
Have a Website
Having a website is so easy these days. I remember being a teenager when the internet wasn’t necessarily new, but websites were prehistoric. I never questioned how they came to be, just that they were there magically for my enjoyment.
Now anyone can have a website within seconds. There are many cut and paste platforms such as WIX that get you started in seconds. If you’re a person just looking to have a place to house your work, these are great options for websites. WIX is free to use if you’re sitting under their server (for example: www.yourname.wix.com).
If you’re looking for a professionally done website with your own domain name, this can come at a small monthly fee (that you can use as a business expense.).
Need help with that? Contact me and I’ll send you a to do list to get you started in the right direction
Local Freelance Agencies
This may be not be available everywhere, but here in Halifax we have The Well, which is a group of freelancers that gather other freelancers to match them with businesses that need creative services.
The Well contacted me on LinkedIn in the summer of 2017 (5 months after I started freelancing) to add me to their Web Developer roster. Since then, they have matched me with companies such as BMR, a creative boutique company that specializes in Lotto and Entertainment, and many others that have helped me build a strong portfolio and led me to many projects.
This falls in line with joining networking such as LinkedIn.
Having your name and your work publicly displayed everywhere possible is the most important step to running your own business.
I know some harp on Monet, Avon, ItWorks and the like because they’re everywhere, but that’s the key. You know about them because they are everywhere. You are one of thousands of people seeing their ads and there’s a 99% chance at least one of those people are going to place an order.
Step Three - Consistency
Being consistent is pretty high up there with things you MUST do to be successful.
One of the biggest mistakes a freelancer can make, starting out or being a seasoned professional, is to lulls in their social media, networking and even word of mouth.
A friend of mine is a Real Estate agent, which you may not know is a type of freelancing, and she networks harder than anyone I’ve ever met. She took me out for my birthday last year and within those few hours she made connections, handed out business cards and made a meeting with a gentleman about investment properties. She was networking, she was just talking and finding common ground with the people around her and thats how she got to where she is now. Recently she posted to her business facebook that she closed 7 houses in 1 week. That’s amazing, and all because she is consistently putting herself and her business out there.
The take away
Freelancing is scary. A lot of people start while they’re still employed elsewhere. It wasn’t until after I lost my job earlier this year that I dove 100% into being a freelancer.
Get your ducks in a row, create buzz around yourself and your skills, get your name out into the world in as many places as you can and work harder than your hardest.
I’m less than 2 years in to my business and only 7 of those months I have been working solely for myself from home and it has been the most gratifying experience of my life.
If you want to chat with me personally about freelancing, please feel free to contact me via my contact page or on social media. I would love to help you find your way!