Freelance work and being the boss of your own is an ultimate goal many are pursuing. The road to becoming a freelancer in 2023 isn’t similar to what it used to be in the past few years. Many things have changed and the competition got a little bit more difficult. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about this.
Freelancing still has room to grow in most fields and professions and market saturation isn’t seen anywhere nearby. So you still can become a freelancer, and you still can rely on this passive income. Who knows? Maybe one day you can quit your job and live off your freelance income.
In this article, we’re going to learn everything about freelancers and freelancing jobs.
Who is a Freelancer?
A freelancer is a person with a set of skills, who is working for different clients. The projects freelancers work on are often short-term, but sometimes long-term are also involved.
Freelancers often work on their own meaning they find clients and projects themselves. However, there are networks that freelancers can join. The network finds the client and passes the project to the corresponding freelancer and takes a commission, usually from both sides.
Why Become a Freelancer?
Becoming a freelancer has some extra perks for those who have extra time and want to make some passive income from it. In the beginning, freelancing can make one enough money to help with expenses like bills, the rent, or save some extra money, but the road ahead of freelancing can be more profitable than one’s daily 9 to 5 job.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, those who were part-time freelancers weren’t afraid to lose their job as a consequence of lockdowns. Because while traditional jobs were at risk, the online freelance job market was even more flourishing and could cover their expenses in hard times.
Today, on the other hand, the inflation rate in the US alone hit a new high in the past 40 years, and the ongoing recession can impact the lives of many. Massive layoffs are ahead and prices aren’t going to decrease in the next few years. So maybe we should take action now and take up freelancing as a passive income in case things got worst.
In addition, professional freelancers who earn enough money can easily quit their job and work from the comfort of their homes. Many freelance jobs don’t require your physical presence in a client’s office. Everything can be done online and the element of location is completely eliminated from making money.
What Skills are Good for Freelancing?
The list of skills for freelancing work is technically endless. Although in many contexts freelancing refer to online work, in which results can be delivered over the internet (sending files, video conference, phone call, etc.), anyone with any skills and profession can work as a freelancer. Let me elaborate on this with some examples.
Plumbers can work as a freelancer. They can find a client by advertisement (e.g. flyers), go to the client’s house, and fix the problem. No internet is required.
Lawyers can work as a freelancer. Well, they usually are freelancers but as opposed to those working for big companies. They can either find clients and solve their cases in person (no internet is required) or provide online consultation via a video conference, email, etc. (internet is involved).
Graphic designers can work as freelancers. They don’t even need to be present at the company office to deliver their projects. They just send the find online.
If you want to learn more about the skills that are perfect for freelancing on the Internet, check out my post on Best Freelance Skills to Learn in 2023. But if your profession demands physical presence, based on the examples above, you can work as a freelancer too.
Road to Steady Income
The idea of making enough money from freelancing to quit a routine job isn’t far-fetched. Many are making as much as or even more than a 9 to 5 job doing freelance projects. The important thing is when you start, you have to be patient.
When you start freelancing, don’t rush to quit your job the next day. Freelancing, especially in the first few months, may not make you anything. You have to give more time and try harder to find clients or be seen by potential clients.
Then, when things get started, you may make enough money to pay bills, pay rent, and save some extra cash. After like a year or so, you may have a steady income by doing freelance projects, enough to give you more financial freedom.
But to quit your job and rely on freelancing income altogether take more than a year. You have to consider everything before making this decision. You can keep both 9 to 5 job and freelancing gigs for another year or two just to ensure you can make it with freelancing alone.
How to Start?
The first step toward becoming a freelancer is to assess what skills you currently have, and what skills you need to learn. You have to see how your current skills can be incorporated into freelancing jobs. Can you do it online or your presence is necessary?
Then, you have to see how much free time you have. Provided you have a 9 to 5 job, how many hours can you dedicate to freelancing after 5 PM? How about weekends? Are you free on Saturday & Sunday? Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone and spend a few hours on the weekend working as a freelancer?
With these two steps behind you, you have to start looking for clients and finding freelance gigs. The followings are a few ways that work for the majority of freelancers. Number 2 is how I find my clients most of the time as a freelancer.
1. Try Freelancing Platforms
The best and most popular way of finding freelance projects is on freelancing platforms. These platforms are websites that connect freelancers to clients. They allow freelancers to showcase their skills and allow clients to search for what they need and hire a freelancer who can do it.
The following list is some of the best freelancing platforms:
- Fiverr (You create gigs on the website and clients find you by searching for the service you provide)
- Upwork (Clients post project proposals and freelancers bid until one is approved and employed)
- Freelancer.com (Clients post project proposals and freelancers bid until one is approved and employed)
- PeoplePerHour (Clients post project proposals and freelancers bid until one is approved and employed)
Freelancer community platforms protect both freelancers and employers from fraud by acting as an in-between to make sure that freelancers will do the job correctly and the client will pay after the project is delivered. Being active on most platforms is free but they usually take a cut from the payment as the service fee when a client pays a freelancer.
2. Find Clients Directly
Another popular way of finding clients and landing some freelancer jobs is to look for them directly. This is how I do it since 2017.
First, you have to identify potential employers who might need your skills. So create a list of companies with their website, email, and phone number. You can Google companies in the industry you are active in or try websites like Linkedin, Glassdoors, and Indeed to find the company profiles with all the required information.
If you couldn’t find the company information, websites like Hunter and Zoominfo can help you scrape an email address or phone number by searching for the company name or website. They can also help you find the corresponding person in the company and direct your emails to them.
Second, all you need to do is either cold-email or cold-call the company and ask them if they need your skills or have some potential projects they want to outsource. Cold emailing and cold calling are a little bit frustrating but even if you land one job after calling 15 clients, you’re going to forget about frustration because you’re going to get started as a freelancer and it’s awesome.
3. Grow Your Network
The next thing you can do is to focus on your contacts and network instead of directly going job hunting. The best way to grow your network is to follow people active in your industry on websites like Linkedin and exchange skills and professions.
This way, not only you can search for a job, but also anyone in your network (who knows you and your skills) will become a potential client or someone who might have a client requiring someone with your skills.
For example, if you are a graphic designer, you can grow your network among anyone who is working on the computer. If they encounter a client who needs a graphic designer since they can provide the service themselves, they’ll refer it to you, and you’ll do the same and send potential clients to those in your network who have the skills.
4. Increase Your Online Presence
One of the powers of social media apps & websites is to connect people together. They can also be used to connect freelancers to clients. If you stay active on social media and constantly post about your skills (like teaching something or sharing industry news) your chance of finding jobs will increase dramatically.
Your presence on social media or any other social profile on the internet can help you be seen by potential clients who are looking for someone with your skills. This way, clients may contact their job opportunities. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and even Pinterest are just some of the examples that usually work for most industries.
Creating a personal website with WordPress software and showcasing your skills and abilities is also a good idea to increase your online presence. Try search engine optimization and you may find people looking for someone with your skills.
5. Advertise a Little
There is this old quote that says “you have to pay money to make money” and I believe this particular one stands correct all the time. Advertisements, when done correctly, will help businesses, companies, and even freelancers make more money.
When you run a simple ad campaign online or distribute flyers, business cards, etc. clients will see your ads and may hire you for projects. This is an effective way to get your hands on some paid work fast but the profit will be less because you paid some money for advertisement. However, in the long run, you can build your brand as a freelancer and land more jobs without ads.
Generally, advertisements are good for all sorts of freelancers, but it is especially good for those with more handy skills. If your skills require physical presence to deal with projects, then advertisement in your local area is going to work perfectly for you.
To wrap up this post, let me summarize what we’ve learned so far. First, we talked about who is a freelancer and why becoming one can be good for you and your financial life. Then, we talked about some of the better skills for freelancing and the road ahead of a freelancer, especially in terms of financial aid.
Next, we talk about how to start as a freelancer, how to manage time and skills, and most importantly, how to find clients and job opportunities. This includes using freelancing platforms, contacting potential clients directly;y, growing your network, staying active online, and paying a few bucks to advertise your freelancing business.
I talk about each of these starter things you can do to get things going to land your first freelance jobs and experience life as a freelancer and its potential long-term effect in the long run, and that’s about it.