If you have decided that freelancing is the best way forward for you and you’re interested in getting started, or you’ve already started but want to find ways to position yourself in the market and find clients, then this guide is for you.
The most important thing to remember when getting started with freelancing is that you don’t need to learn anything new. You already have the skills you need. You just need to find a way to use those skills in a way that works for you and find the best way to offer those skills to others.
A great example is of a friend of mine who lost much of her work as a professional stylist due to the recent situation with lockdowns.
She recognized that she had skills to offer that could be shared with an audience online and so she began the membership site Capsule Closet Stylist, offering advice on style, clothing, colour, and creating a high-quality wardrobe that you love.
Something she was passionate about and talented has given her a whole new avenue.
I personally, went from teacher to travel writer. I was ready to leave the world of teaching behind but, during my many years abroad, I acquired a love for East Asia that people were more than willing to pay me for exploring.
Here’s everything you need to know to get yourself started on the right foot.
Finding Your Freelance Skills
Worried you don’t have the skills for freelancing? Consider the questions below and make a list of services you could potentially offer.
- Consider taking into account your past experience. What industry were you in before you considered becoming a freelancer? That industry or academic experience can help you position yourself as an expert within your chosen field. If you were a teacher like I was, why not consider educational writing, online tutoring, or creating resources for tired teachers.
You may want to move away from your field altogether and go down a completely new path, and that’s ok. Do you have any clients you’re working for already, maybe on a more informal basis? These questions can be great starting points to finding out what road you should go down.
- Think about what you’re good at. What have you had good feedback on in the past? What do you actually enjoy learning more about, what articles are you reading by choice, and what area are your hobbies in?
We shouldn’t get into the loop of monetizing all of our hobbies but if there is something you’re passionate about then it can certainly bypass those days as a freelancer when you want to do anything but work. Freelancing requires a lot of motivation from the individual so try to hover in an area you have an interest in.
- What’s actually in demand? Once you’ve made a list of things you enjoy and the skills you’ve acquired from past experience, start checking the state of the industry. Is it saturated, are people being paid fairly?
For example, certain areas of writing like reviewing books, games, and films will always have people willing to write for free or low pay so you might not find this a particularly lucrative market to enter.
Look at other freelancers in the area you’re interested in, what services are they offering and at what price point? Are there any additional services you can add from your own experience? A quick google search will bring up others in your field.
- Choose which skills to sell to clients. When you start, it can be tempting to offer anything and everything that you’re capable of doing. And, while this can be a great way to find out what you actually enjoy, eventually you’re going to want to niche down and get specific. Why?
Surely, if you offer more services, you’re going to reach a wider network of people, right? But, in reality, people are looking for specialists in their field and you’re going to come up in searches much quicker if you’re very specific about what you offer. But how do you know what route you should go down?
Remember: you don’t need to start with a concrete strategy. The beauty of freelancing is that it leaves you room to grow and develop your skills as you go. Embrace that!
Read More: 10 Essential Freelancer Tips for Beginners
Position your skills and set your rates
So you have found something you like, something you’re familiar with, and found out whether it’s in demand and has the potential to pay well. Next, you need to position yourself in the market and find your profit point.
When you’re getting started, it can be difficult to position yourself as an expert but you shouldn’t undercharge or sell yourself short. Finding a profit point that works for you is important as is raising those prices when you do have that evidence that proves you are an expert in your field.
Take into consideration what bills you will need to pay as well as your personal and business monthly expenses. Your rates need to reflect that.
Having a starting point for rates on your site can really help attract clients who are a good fit. Either way, start talking about rates with prospective clients as soon as possible so you don’t waste each other’s time.
Having a lowest rate point in your mind based on the client, the project, how much work it’ll take. A good starting point is £150 and up.
Tip: Figure out how long it will take and work out how much you’d make hourly.
Do I have to niche down as a freelancer?
Not at all, and it’s also perfectly fine to have more than one niche especially if they fall under the same umbrella.
Whether you decide niche down or not, here are some questions to ask yourself
- Are there trends emerging in this particular market
- What does the future of this market look like
- What will I enjoy doing?
Base your packages around these questions.
Will there be enough work if I niche down?
This is the question that puts most people off limiting their services, especially at first.
However, if you type in keywords into Google, you’ll find top brands in your niche and these are companies who you will be able to target.
You then need to target who you’re interested in on your website by adding the right keywords to your website so you can show up in search.
A simple statement can help the right people find you, ultimately bringing more work to you, something as simple as this will make it clear what you’re about:
‘I [what you do] for the type of brand you do it for so they can see [result]’
How do I advertise my freelance business?
You will absolutely need some sort of website or portfolio, ideally one with your domain with your name or something related to your target market. Make sure you use keywords related to what you want to do and your niche which will help you rank high in search results.
There are a few ways to set up a website including on a hosted WordPress site, Squarespace, and Wix.com. Or you can use one of many portfolio companies, for example, Journoportfolio.
You will also need to utilize your Linkedin, make sure you’re advertising your services and have your bio filled out with what you can offer and any success stories you have. If you know anyone who can leave you a testimonial, ask them to leave you one on Linkedin. Make sure your headline clearly states who you are and what you do, over 60% of my freelance work has come from being found through Linkedin.
Making and adding contacts within your area is also a great way to spend time so your profile gains more exposure and you look more credible. Share examples of your work or relevant articles to position yourself as an expert in your field.
How to Find Freelance Clients
The question that every freelancer starts with and the one that can stop people from even getting started. Even if you’re completely new to your freelance business, you can find your first clients.
While you’re waiting for SEO to kick in with your new website, as it can take a while to rank, cold pitching is the best way to get started.
Reaching out to clients
If you have any warm leads from people you have worked with previously, go to those first before trying out these steps.
- As this is a numbers game, you need to actively get yourself out there and in front of brands. Start by searching for your industry keyword on Twitter and LinkedIn by using the search bar and start connecting with people and brands people and brands.
Scour Google for companies that you know you can help out. Aim for 50 – 100 clients on your list and find their email addresses. Avoid the generic email address and try to find the marketing manager or relevant person to your industry. You can use hunter-io if you’re struggling to find the right email address.
- Send a two to three-paragraph email – keep it concise and to the point. Include any evidence you have about great work you’ve done for clients, what conversions your work has led to etc.
If you don’t have any yet include results or stats from existing research of what your service typically can do for someone in this. Link to your portfolio or blog.
Here’s a rough idea of what you should be going for:
First paragraph: introduce yourself with your positioning statement (the one you use on your website)
Second paragraph: promote the benefits of the service you’re offering
Third paragraph: make it really easy for a prospective client to take to the next step. Let them know when you are available for a chat on Zoom if they want to discuss or supply a booking form.
Top tip: Don’t make it all about you, make it all about the client. How can you help them?
Read More: 10 Best Websites for Finding Online Jobs
How to use social media to find clients
Believe it or not, social media can be a great resource for finding work. Following accounts that share jobs, looking for keywords, and actively look for job postings are the easiest ways to find people who are looking for someone like you right now.
Linkedin and Twitter are generally the best but pick the one best suited to your niche. For example, on Twitter, type in ‘looking for writer’ or ‘logo designer needed you can also make lists of people who often post jobs.
You can also find communities and groups on Facebook that post jobs or are centred around your niche where people post opportunities.