Table of Contents
- Concept of Freelancing
- In-demand Freelance Skills
- How to Become a Freelancer: Top 4 Principles
- Pros and Cons of Freelancing
- Guide to Freelancing: 9 Tips and Tricks
- Key Takeaways
Are you looking to expand your professional skills or make a career from your latent skills? Do you think a regular 9-to-5 job is not for you, and you would prefer to work independently (become self-employed)? Have you got used to the ongoing work-from-home work model and dream to continue with this work pattern even when offices reopen?
If the answers to the above questions are yes, then freelancing is the path you can take to make a progressive career for yourself. This blog is your ultimate guide to freelancing that provides valuable freelance tips and tricks to embark on your journey in 2022.
The Concept of Freelancing
Freelancing may not be a new term for an enterprising professional like you. It is a new career path many experienced and inexperienced professionals are taking to foster their uncultivated passion and make money, too!
In simple terms, freelancing means “to be your own boss.” It is primarily a home-based occupation performed using digital techniques or on digital platforms with complete autonomy. Freelancing is a flexible career option that gives freelancers the freedom to choose work assignments and deadlines at their convenience. They can choose to take up contractual or project-based work part-time with no long-term commitment. Moreover, they can charge different rates for their services from clients, based on the quantum of work they deliver to them.
Freelancing has been in vogue for the past few years. The industry gained rapid momentum in the last two years when the pandemic struck and constrained everyone to work from the confines of their homes. It is now expanding rapidly as many people are opting for freelance careers and monetizing them. As per a recent survey by Payoneer, the demand for freelancers will potentially increase by 34% post-COVID-19 (as compiled by Truelist).
As per a Statista report, the freelancer economy will reach 455.2 billion US dollars by 2023. Thus, the demand for freelancers is bound to surge in the coming years.
In-demand Freelance Skills
A multitude of career options is available to freelancers in diverse fields. The following sections describe the four in-demand IT-related freelancing skills by clients across industries:
1. Software development and programming
2. Software designing
With so much digital expansion in almost every field, the freelance industry is booming with new opportunities for software designers such as web or app designers, graphic designers, product designers, game designers, or UI/UX designers.
3. Video editing and animation
The modern-day world is highly driven by virtual or online content, thus creating a massive demand for video editing and 2D or 3D animation skills. The current rage of creating Tiktok and Youtube videos or making Instagram reels has also inflated demand for these skills.
4. Digital marketing
Digital marketing is the new medium to promote brands and connect with your audience. Companies now extensively use online or digital technologies to advertise their products and services. Hence, they need more digital marketers to accomplish this task for them. Content marketers, copywriters, SEO experts, ad experts, email marketers, and several other marketing roles fit into this category.
Other popular freelancing skills include
- E-commerce consulting
- Content writing
- Search engine optimization
- Copy editing
- Voice-over or narration
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Social media management
How to Become a Freelancer: Top 4 Principles
Now that you know the concept of freelancing and the in-demand skills let us address the inevitable question: how to become a freelancer? There is no magic formula to build a freelancing career. Just as for any other profession, you need to put consistent efforts to make it work for you. In this guide to freelancing, we present below a few of the principles that will serve as practical freelancing tips to drive success for you. Incorporate these principles in your daily lives to yield fruitful results.
1. Manage your time
Doing freelance work does not imply that you have all the time in this world to finish an in-hand project. Time management is the key to specifying a value to your time. It circumvents instances where you are overburdened with work on certain days or at complete leisure on others. Set a target on your daily work volume to manage your time well. Do not accept projects more than you can handle to avoid hampering your work quality and productivity.
2. Unlearn to learn
As they say, “there is always a scope of learning and improvement in whatever you do.”. The notion holds more relevance in today’s rapidly changing digital times. You must be on the go to periodically upgrade or hone your skills to optimize your profile. It entails setting aside outdated knowledge and acquiring the latest skills relevant to your chosen field. This is the success mantra that every freelancer needs to follow to adapt to change.
3. Do not let greed allure you
Comparing your monetization strategy with other freelancers can be distressing and demotivating. Do what you can do in your best capacity and cherish the fruits it bears to you. Focus on the primary goal of delivering quality services to your clients and maintaining good relations with them. Endeavor to make people’s lives easier with your services and consistent hard work. The innate desire to make big money using petty whacks will not lead to sustainable growth in your freelance career.
4. Stay disciplined and focused
Besides managing your time and putting in consistent efforts, you must also learn to adopt a disciplined approach to your freelancing work. This means you need to pay attention to enhancing work quality by recognizing clients’ expectations, adhering to submission deadlines, and regularly honing your skills.
Pros and Cons of Freelancing
Before embarking on your freelance journey, you must also know the impending benefits and challenges of choosing this career path.
Benefits of choosing a freelancing career
- Autonomy to choose work
As a freelancer, you will have the liberty to choose work as per your free will. You can take as many or as few work assignments at a particular time. You can refuse to take up a work assignment or project when your plate is full. This is a boon for women who want to restart their careers, along with fulfilling their household responsibilities, and for young professionals aspiring to pursue their studies while building a part-time freelance career. Part-time freelancers can have the best of both worlds.
- Authority to say no
Besides declining work, freelancing also gives you the power to turn down offers or requests that are not in line with your demands. You can do so since you are the boss. For example, if a client comes to you with some work that does not excite you or offers a price unacceptable to you, you can simply reject the offer. You do not need to justify the refusal but do it subtly so that you do not ruin your prospects of working with them.
- Infinite learning and growth opportunities
Freelancing opens up limitless avenues of learning and growth. All the unpleasant client experiences or unsuccessful projects serve as a reality check on the wrong decisions made. You can pick any field of your interest and start with a scratch (with no prior experiences or certifications). Freelancing even gives you the liberty to switch the fields, say from a content writer to copywriter, a podcaster, video creator, or maybe all of these! Moreover, digital platforms give opportunities for gaining global exposure (working with foreign clients and getting paid in their currencies).
- Flexible income
Unlike a regular full-time job, freelancing income is variable. It is directly proportional to the quantity and attribution of work you do. As mentioned earlier, you have the power to negotiate payment terms with your clients. In specific cases, you can charge different rates from different clients for the same work. For example, write at a lower rate for a reputed client to get good exposure and at a higher rate for the one whose work requires intense research.
Challenges of freelancing
- Work round the clock
Not having fixed working hours makes you vulnerable to work day and night. Not managing your time well can cause an imbalance in your personal and professional life, resulting in mental and physical stress. However, the work pressure is less when you freelance part-time.
- Hard to build a personal brand
Freelancers are a ‘one-man’ army with no backing. Building the client’s trust is a stepping stone to a successful freelance career yet the most challenging task. It requires creating a personal brand that showcases the authenticity of your work and echoes your skills. You need to consistently commit and invest your time, energy, and hard work in it. It takes years of hard work to make your mark in the freelance industry.
- Lack of empathy
One of the predominant shortcomings of becoming a freelancer is that clients are indifferent and insensitive to your troubles. They desist from listening to or understanding your problems and refuse to accept them as a reason for the delay in work. This lack of empathy can be a demotivating factor for many freelancers.
- Unstable income
There is no guarantee that you will have a constant income flow. That again depends on the work you do and the retention of the clients. There might be a boom period when you earn more than a full-time job, but there may also be a slump.
Guide to Freelancing: 9 Tips and Tricks
In this guide to freelancing, we will provide you with a few other valuable freelance tips and tricks to help you kickstart your career.
1. Identify your core strengths and niche
As a first step towards becoming a freelancer, identify your core competencies and skills that are assets in your profile. Ask yourself what excites you the most or what is your interest area? What will keep you engrossed for a longer time?
Define your niche or specialization area in which you can contribute the most. It will help define your freelance services and offer them to future clients. Do online research on different freelancing websites to understand the scope and profitability of the market of your domain and expertise.
2. Determine your target audience
At the onset, you must be very clear on what you want to do (niche) and whom you wish to serve (target audience). For a successful freelance career, the services you deliver must provide solutions to the client’s problems. Thus, you need to find the category of clients who will be a good fit for your services. The next step is to find and acquire potential clients. You can access freelancing websites that publish job postings by clients and apply to them. You can also pitch your profile to prospects. However, this requires a strong positioning in the freelance marketplace. You can achieve this when you follow the steps mentioned hereafter.
3. Make an impressive portfolio
Sending Google drive links to your work samples is an unimpressive way to influence new clients. They give precedence to freelancers with a captivating portfolio or a collection of your best work assignments, along with testimonials.
Your portfolio is a medium to showcase your capabilities, potential, and accomplishments to prospects. Testimonials from other clients help build trust with them. Thus, create a portfolio of your top-notch work samples to highlight your skills and the services you offer. Add your unique selling proposition so that your client knows why they should hire you. Look out for freelancing websites that offer expert portfolio-building services, and that too free of cost!
4. Fix your rates
Now that you are clear on your niche, capabilities, and target audience, it is time for you to fix rates for your services. Set your minimum income goals and evaluate your total expenses and overheads to arrive at a minimum acceptable rate (MAR). A little research on current market rates will give a fair idea of the price strategy of your competitors. The final rate depends on your MAR, position in the industry, and time consumed to deliver work. Hourly pricing (per hour payment) and project-based pricing (per project payment) are the two most popular pricing models. Choose them as per your requirements with mutual agreement in advance with the clients.
The rates you set must be flexible. As a beginner, you need to keep them low and increase them as you gain experience. Also, negotiate the rates as per the scope and urgency of work (charge high for complex and urgent projects), demand for your services, and goodwill of the client (you might be too eager to work with a client to drop your rates for them).
5. Inch slowly towards your target
To become a part-time freelancer, you must start by taking small steps. Do not be in too much of a hurry to make a mark for yourself. You first need to build trust with the prospective clients. Convince them that your services can provide productive solutions to their problems, and hence you are a good fit for them. Also, do not expect to get showered with assignments and projects at the onset. Start by doing some small but impactful work. For example, send samples of your work to prospects like designs made, content created, blogs or articles written, and any other piece of work. Work for free for a while to build trust and get feedback or testimonials. This will serve as an icebreaker and give you practical experience of the actual work.
6. Build a personal brand
As mentioned earlier, your brand is a testimony of your skills and work. Thus, start making an impactful online presence or personal brand to give an edge to your freelance career. Choose the right platform, such as websites and online social media, as per your target audience or prospects and start connecting with them by consistently creating engaging content. LinkedIn and Twitter are two of the most popular social media platforms to post niche-specific content. It will help draw the client’s attention to your work and help you stand out in the crowd of freelancers.
7. Build optimistic relations with clients
Besides building a personal brand, you must develop constructive work relations with your clients to build a long-term partnership with them. You can achieve this by building their trust through elementary techniques such as delivering high-quality work within deadlines, communicating effectively, and identifying new solutions to their problems. Positive relations will help you get repeat work and referrals of new clients.
8. Upskill to stay competitive
With changing times, the freelance industry is also becoming highly competitive. Thus, it is imperative to constantly refine your skills or learn new skills to stay relevant, say enrolling for specified online courses or study programs to keep up with the current trends. It will help expand your knowledge and prepare you to adapt to changes. You may also refer to the profile and career trajectory of the experts in the field to make inferences on developing your skills.
9. Customize proposals
Create a customized proposal for each client. Research your prospective client to know about their business, markets, and problem areas. Make a customized pitch mentioning how your skills and services can provide productive solutions to their problems. Send cold emails with personalized pitches along with your portfolio to land a deal with your preferred clients.
- There has been a remarkable surge in demand for freelancers in the past two years. The freelance marketplace is likely to expand progressively as an increasing number of professionals are choosing freelancing as a full-time or part-time career.
- Freelancing is a liberating career that gives you the autonomy to control the work volume. You can work anytime, anywhere, and as much or as little as you want.
- Companies look for diverse skills and services from freelancers. IT-related skills, such as developing, designing, and animation, are the most in-demand. Some of the other sought-after freelance skills are digital marketing, content writing, copy editors, content creators, to name a few.
- The success-driving principles to adopt in your lifestyle include:
- Learn to manage your time to deliver quality work to your clients on time. Set achievable targets and practice to say ‘no’ to avoid being overburdened.
- Do not compare your work and monetization rates with other freelancers. Let not greed overpower your passion for becoming a successful freelancer.
- Be open to learning new skills to adapt to changes.
- Stay determined, focused, and ethical while walking the freelance career path. Put consistent efforts and work hard to achieve long-term sustainable growth.
- Freelancing is a rewarding career that offers many benefits to freelancers. Freedom to choose work, infinite learning and growth opportunities in diverse fields, and flexibility in income are the main advantages of choosing a freelancing career. However, be prepared to burn the midnight oil to deliver quality work to unempathetic clients. Building your brand and getting a steady income are other challenges in the life of a freelancer.
Now that you know the basics of how to start your own freelance business get started. Work backward to ensure that you have all your resources in place before you leave your full-time job. Work hard to build your portfolio in the meantime. You will get there eventually. Continue to work hard and be consistent.
Identify your skill, niche, and target audience to determine your freelance marketplace. Take an online course or certification to update your skill (if required at the start).
Set a minimum acceptable rate after taking into consideration critical factors (expenses, income goals, and market rates for beginners)
Start taking small projects and even work for free to gain work experience and get testimonials from clients.
Make an impactful portfolio of your best work samples that you want to pitch to the prospects. Send a customized proposal to each client.
Choose productive social media and other freelance platforms to upload your work, advertise your services, and connect with clients and target audiences. It will help you build a personal brand to scale your freelance career.
Enroll in online courses and masterclasses in your field (paid and free) to acquire new skills.
Get some certifications on topics that enhance your marketability.
Read as much as you can (books, newspapers, newsletters, etc. Access online content in text (blogs and articles), audio (podcasts), and video forms.
Look out for challenging projects and learn while working on them.
The two popular freelance payment models are
Hour-based payment (payment as per the number of hours put in the project at a predefined hourly rate)
Project-based payment (payment at a fixed predefined rate for the entire project)
Ask yourself the following questions before setting your rates,
How much money do I want to earn in 2022?
What is the minimum rate that will cover all my expenses, including the value of my time, and generate adequate income to support my lifestyle?
What are other freelancers charging for similar services?
What will be my price range for complex and urgent projects?
Freedom to choose work
Flexible working hours
Erratic work schedules and workloads
Limited mentoring and guidance
Our guide to freelancing recommends visiting the following freelancing websites,