There are many reasons to start freelancing. For instance, you may be sick of the rat race and looking for a reason to quit your nine-to-five job. Or, perhaps you’re happy at work but looking for a little extra side income.
The kind of gig work that you do can also vary dramatically. On the one hand, you might prefer the isolation of a freelance writer or the independence of a computer programmer. On the other hand, you might revel in the social aspects of Uber driving or being a personal assistant or shopper.
Regardless of your reasons or the kind of work you choose, if you want to become a successful gig worker, you need to go about things the right way. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started as a freelancer.
Do Your Homework
One of the best benefits of a good side gig is that it allows you to always learn and grow. This growth mindset mentality starts right from the beginning. If you want to dominate with your freelance efforts, you should put in some study time in a few different areas.
Study Your Industry
You may feel that you know your industry pretty well. After all, you’re confident enough to launch a freelance career within it. But that doesn’t change the fact that most industries are always in a state of flux.
Taking the time to research the latest news and developments within your field can give you a fresh, unique, and practical take as you interact with clients and propose solutions to their problems.
Study Your Customers
You may be aware of what you want to do as a freelancer, but that doesn’t mean you automatically know what individuals need your service. Use resources like social media and news publications to find out more about your potential customers.
As you research, look for what individuals and businesses could use your services the most. Additionally, consider how you can tailor your talents and skills to meet their needs more effectively.
Study the Competition
Finally, take a look at other freelancers, agencies, and professionals in your field. These may be your prime competition, but that makes it all the more important that you understand who they are.
As you study the competition, look for areas where they’ve been successful. Also, learn from any apparent failures or missteps that they’ve made in the past.
By spending time studying your industry, customers, and competitors, you can give yourself a cutting-edge advantage in the job hunt. Not only does this allow you to provide a niche level of information, but it can also help you refine what your ideal client looks like and how you can pursue them for work. This will help you get work in the future — and at higher rates, too.
Find Your USP
Entrepreneur.com defines a unique selling proposition (USP) as “The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.”
In other words, a USP is what helps you stand out against other candidates. As a freelancer, there’s a good chance that you’re up against a plethora of other gig workers who are all sporting very similar skills, education, and experiences on their resumes.
It is about the professional journey that helps you stand out from the status quo? Make sure to identify that and then place it at the centre of your freelance efforts.
Hone Your Pitch
Once you’ve done your homework and identified your USP, you can use this information to hone your pitch. Your pitch is how you present yourself to clients. In essence, it’s the verbal or written representation of your personal brand.
Much like a corporate brand, your personal brand should aim to tell your story. It should reflect your values, accomplishments, and strengths. You want to seriously think through things like your personal brand and your pitch before you find yourself face to face with a potential client.
Assemble Your Job-Hunting Gear
It’s also worthwhile to spend some time tending to the logistics of your impending freelancing efforts. If you dive in without a second thought, you’re likely to find yourself scrambling and missing opportunities before long.
Instead, take the time to pull together everything you need to help you regularly land gigs. This can vary from one freelance job to the next but generally tends to include things like:
- An updated resume and personalised cover letter template.
- A personal website with a contact page, about us page, and portfolio.
- Cleaned up and polished social media profiles that represent your personal brand well.
- References from past colleagues, employers, and professors.
Setting up your job-hunting toolkit ahead of time allows you to ensure that each piece is optimised to give you the best chance at freelancing success.
Set Up Your Finances
The other major logistical consideration is your finances. It doesn’t matter if you’re picking up a side hustle or steering into freelancing as a full-time career. You want to consider how it’ll impact your finances. There are several different freelance financial factors to consider if you’re going to operate as a gig worker:
- Pricing: Putting a dollar figure on your work can be difficult. However, it shouldn’t be done casually. Consider factors like what you need to live and what others are charging, and then set your rates accordingly.
- Bank account: Since you’ll be operating your own business, it’s wise to establish a separate bank account for your freelancing finances.
- Invoicing: Create spreadsheets to track your work and find a good invoice generator to help you bill clients for the work you’ve finished.
- Taxes: As a freelancer, you’ll need to calculate, withhold, and pay your taxes throughout the year.
Working as a contractor means you’re responsible for handling your finances correctly. Make sure you have a solid financial infrastructure in place before you begin generating income.
Find Your Customers
At this point, you’ve laid a comprehensive foundation for your freelancing activities. However, you won’t be able to use it unless you come up with some work.
When it comes to finding freelance clients, the actual process will vary from one line of work to the next. On the one hand, if you’re doing something like ridesharing, you need to set up an account, get approved, and turn on the app.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to get work as, say, a freelance writer or graphic designer, you’re going to need to put in a little more effort. Fortunately, you can still find freelance work in a variety of places, such as:
- Friends and family;
- Professionals within your network;
- Freelance websites;
- Job adverts on social media sites like LinkedIn.
Don’t be afraid to start small and then build as you create a work portfolio.
Getting Started as a Freelancer
Freelancing is all the rage. However, it isn’t a magic bullet, nor is it a get-rich-quick scheme. If you want freelancing to work, you need to go about it thoughtfully.
So, review the tips and strategies listed above and consider where your freelance plans are lacking. Then do your best to set the stage beforehand. If you can do that, you’ll be able to launch your career with the greatest chance of success possible.