Top 5 Tips On Freelancing For Beginners
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
If you are reading this article it's likely that you are sick of your boss and your dead-end job. You are contemplating to quit. You have had your life’s fair share of making mindless presentations on PowerPoint and drawing up boring charts on excel sheets. You are so done with all the bucket loads of crap!
So what do you decide to do?
You decide to chase your dreams. You want to be a freelancer.
Freelancing, brings to you rosy dreams of swinging in a hammock by the beach, somewhere in some exotic island while tapping away at your laptop crafting a 1000 word article for Times. No screaming bosses, no stifling office cubicles, no annoying coworkers. Getting paid pot loads of money ( for who hasn't watched the countless ads from online freelance gurus claiming to teach you the secret to making lakhs per month) doing work that you love to do in the first place. Could life get any better? Is this the definition of Heaven?
The reality of freelancing, however, is a little bit different. While it might appear very attractive when you are stuck in your lousy full-time job, be prepared to get a few wake up lessons when you do actually decide to start freelancing. As with every other job, this too has its own difficulties that you need to wrap your head around if you want to make your mark. Having said that, it is also true, that if you can tough it out in the initial phase of your career, freelancing can be a richly rewarding experience, both in terms of work satisfaction and money.
I have compiled below a few pointers that every beginner needs to keep in mind while deciding to set up their freelance business.
Hard Work With Some Luck
Starting a career in freelancing is always daunting. More so if you do not have an existing network to fall back on. Heaps of hard work and some hand-holding by Lady Luck is what it takes to get yourself set up here.
So if you have been burning the midnight lamp all too often, toiling away the weekends and forgetting to take a good night’s sleep chasing your dreams, worry not, you are in the right track.
As they say, luck usually favours hard workers.
Networking Is Key
This is the most important catchword in the world of freelancing.
You may hate socializing in your personal life, you may take pride in being a loner but remember, if you intend to cut it in freelancing, you absolutely must reach out to others in your preferred line of work. Whether you are a content writer, a digital marketeer or a photographer, if you do not know enough people in the industry, you would almost certainly be setting yourself up for failure.
Join similar groups and communities in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on. Start following and subscribing to the works of established freelancers across the various social media portals, start sharing your work online, give feedback and start asking for feedback. In the process, try to foster a connection with other freelancers. Such connections can turn to be your biggest pillar of strength.
“When other freelancers in my network are too busy or not a good fit for a gig that lands in their inbox, they refer me—and I always return the favour”, explains Kate Boogard, in her blog post on lessons learnt from full time freelancing. Kate is an established freelance content writer with clients like New York Times and Business Insider to boast of.
Market Yourself Across Multiple Platforms
Traditionally in Asian cultures mostly, we have been taught not to brag or show off. The concept of working quietly behind the veils has been turned into a virtue and sign of ultimate talent.
However in today’s day and age, if you do not ‘show off’ your skills, I am sorry to say you wouldn’t stand a fair chance at freelancing. With its ever-increasing cut-throat competition, in order to succeed you need to be good at grabbing your client by his eyeballs! You need to put up your work everywhere and by everywhere I do NOT mean spamming unnecessarily. You need to market yourself in all the relevant social media channels, keep posting good content frequently and keep reminding people out there how valuable you can prove to be for them.
Bottom line, if you have got it, you might as well flaunt it. Bragging is perfectly okay in freelancing, infact essential as long as you don’t turn into that irritating guy who pops up in your storyline 5 times a day! Which would be detrimental for you and would definitely drive your admirers and potential clients away from you. Spamming is a BIG No.
Ask clients for their testimonials
For all the folks out there who are just starting out in their freelancing career, testimonials from your first customers can be super important. If they are happy with your work, it will boost your confidence and make them your first potential marketers. When they recommend your service to their network and they write you a good testimonial that does wonders for your credibility in the market.
To Charge High or Settle for Less
While you will come across several established freelancers and self-help gurus advising you never to settle for less, you have got to face facts and tweak your expectations in line with reality.
For if you are a fresh face in the industry with no prior clients to boast of and no published work, which client, in their sane mind, would agree to offer you the best rates? You wouldn’t do that yourself if you were the client! But does that mean you turn down such offers in hopes of landing something lucrative?
When you are starting out, often the wise thing to do would be to say Yes as long as you feel the kind of work offered is decent & relevant enough. Low paying clients are usually much more patient with mistakes and less demanding. Rajiv Sighamony, a freelancer in the field of finance, points out in his article on low paying clients, how he ended up learning the nitty-gritty of the business through such clients.
Having said that, it's all about balance. You need to be smart enough to know when its time to stop getting exploited by such offers and start increasing your rates. For too many low paying clients could effectively cheapen your image in the market and make it difficult for you to raise your rates.
Persistence is key to success for most things in life. If you don't mind rolling up your sleeves and getting things done, with even a little bit of talent, sooner or later, success is bound to come.