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Freelancing is a great way to earn experience, money and get started in the working world. If you’re looking for an independent and flexible work schedule that gives you more time to spend with your family, it can be a good choice. Knowing how to get freelance projects is key to success.
You can find projects on online job boards, marketplaces, traditional websites, and LinkedIn. Also, make sure your friends and acquaintances know what you do so that they can refer potential clients. Research your potential clients and prepare detailed pitches to show them you understand their needs.
This guide will tell you how to become a successful freelancer. You’ll learn how to find your first project, grow your income by finding more lucrative projects, and keep customers coming back for more.
What is Freelancing?
Freelancing is when you work for yourself and get paid on a per-project basis rather than working for a company. You can take on various jobs, including writing, graphics design, web development. There are many places that hire freelancers.
Unlike working as an employee, you set your own hours as your own boss and often work from home. You decide what you want to work on and how much time you want to put in. A lot of people who are freelancers followed the I don’t want to work anymore in corporate America mantra and branched out themselves.
Additional benefits of a freelancing career include:
- Flexibility: Having the freedom to work on your own schedule, even working from home for a freelance job.
- Freedom Selecting Freelance Gigs: The ability to pick and choose which jobs you want to complete.
- Lower Taxes: Freelancers are responsible for paying their own income tax as well as social security contributions, unlike employees who have those taxes deducted from their paycheck by an employer. As a result, they have less taxable income since they have more deductions than a traditional employee would have available. Amish are the exception to this; do Amish pay taxes?
Freelancing can be a financially rewarding career if done right, but it is important not to rush into anything without some research first or you could find yourself in trouble with no way out.
It’s not an easy task, though, because of the competition out there for job seekers. You need a strategy if you’re going to be successful as a freelancer, and that’s where this guide comes in.
Best In-Demand Freelance Jobs
There many freelance websites that exist for freelance job opportunities. Knowing what the best in-demand freelance jobs are is also important. With remote work common, you can search job postings around the world for freelance jobs and the ideal client.
Some of the top in-demand freelance jobs:
- Graphic Designer: Opportunities include logo design
- Web Design and Talented Designers
- Web Developers
- Freelance Writers: A lot of freelance workers specialize in writing jobs
- App Developers
- Network Engineers:
- Social Media Jobs
- Data Entry
- Other Designers: Familiar with WordPress themes
If you have experience or a skill set in these areas, or are looking to break into them, then the above freelance jobs would make sense.
Of the above freelance jobs mentioned, you may be wondering which type of freelance work pays the most?
Generally, the more experience a freelancer has in their field, then typically they can charge higher rates throughout their freelancing career. This is because there are no set rules or regulations for how much one should be paid since it all depends on who you’re working with and how talented you are. You will still need to know if a federal tax refund is taxable because that could affect your freelance jobs.
The most common type of freelance work that pays well is marketing.
Marketing is a term that could include anything from content writing to social media and everything in between, which makes this the perfect type of freelance work for beginners because you don’t have to specialize just yet. As your skillset and special skills grow over time, so too will your rates when it comes to any kind of freelance services and work.
How To Find Freelance Opportunities
Finding good freelance opportunities can be hard, especially when you’re new to the game. However, freelancers have many ways to find freelancing projects that offer them room for growth and creativity!
I recommend starting with a job board. A reputable job board is a website where companies can post open positions. There are lots of boards you can use for your search, and they’re not all the same. Some may only have certain kinds of work available while others might be more generalist-friendly. Working as an unlicensed real estate assistant is a great freelance opportunity.
Tips for Landing Your First Client
If you are brand new to finding freelance opportunities, you may be thinking it’s impossible to land your first client. The good news is there are things you can do to help secure new gigs.
Build an Online Portfolio
If new to freelancing, there’s a 90% chance other freelancers will take your projects before you have the opportunity. Having a good portfolio saves time and is an effective way of showing off your work.
If you have worked on large projects at your full-time job, put up a description of the project and any screen shots or work samples. It’s important to be clear and not brag too much when presenting your accomplishments. Learn how to start a blog and put your portfolio online.
Level Up Your Skills
When starting your freelance career, as intimidating as it is to land that first client, you will want some type of experience with the skills they need. This gives you time to both hone those skills and appear more qualified for hired tasks when the opportunity presents itself.
The more you differentiate yourself from competition with cool side projects and examples, the better. You don’t have to go back to school for a BS in computer science to hop on this train.
Start Freelancing Before Quitting Your Day Job
An advantage of freelancing before you quit your day job is you can undercut other freelancers so you can get experience. By gaining experience, you’ll be in a much better position to charge what you deserve for your work and negotiate with future clients for more projects.
The other benefit of picking up freelance clients while you’re still working full-time is that you can be selective. Managing a tight schedule, heavy workload, and being responsible for client deliverables with limited resources on a schedule, will teach you quickly what it’s like to run your own business.
Creating a high-quality portfolio website, building your personal brand and adding to your portfolio naturally takes a good amount of time.
Leverage Your Network
Top successful ways to land freelance jobs is through leveraging your existing network. Using your network and companies you already work with is a great way to make expansions into new areas. It also beats cold calling potential clients.
There is also less competition because you are not competing with job postings and freelance jobs on freelance websites.
Freelancing Sites for Beginners
There are a lot of job postings and new freelance jobs that can be found online. Below are some of the popular freelance websites where you can snag a potential client.
- WeWorkRemotely bills itself as the largest online community for remote workers. They have work available for all ranges of freelancers.
- Remote.co is a great resource for those skilled in design, development, copywriting, and more.
- Jooble aggregates job listings from thousands of small job boards and lets you search through them. You can find opportunities from 71 countries around the world.
- Remotive is geared toward high-end development and marketing jobs. So, if you have experience in those areas, definitely check it out.
- RemoteOK is another good one, especially if you’re in the marketing or IT space.
Other job boards worth mentioning include Problogger for content writers, Smashing Jobs for graphic designers, and iCrunchData for prospective clients looking for engineers and analysts or a web developer.
Another way to find freelance jobs is by checking freelancing marketplaces like Freelancer, Fiverr, Upwork, and Guru.
The market for freelance designers is hotly competitive because many freelancers are competing with low-cost projects using Fiverr. However, having a presence on multiple freelancing sites can grant you more exposure to potential clients and allow specialization in different types of design projects.
Guru has an authentic, grassroots feel. They encourage transparency on their freelance platform and value trust. This extends to their job postings which all clearly communicate what a project entails–you won’t find anything sketchy here, so Guru is a reputable resource for finding new design work as a freelancer or hiring designer talent with various skill sets.
How to Get Freelance Projects
These sites mentioned above will help you connect with clients looking for people like you and take a commission. Most of them offer excellent marketing, bookkeeping, and communication tools so you can manage all your tasks right from the platform.
Next, there are traditional job board sites. Although these sites usually feature ads for in-person or full-time jobs, you can still find many freelance opportunities. The downside is that most websites force you to search based on the city where the job is located. So, finding the right job could take a bit of time. For example, Indeed has job listings for all skill sets and job seekers: marketing, web development, and graphic design naming a few.
LinkedIn is also great. LinkedIn is also great because professionals in many quality clients and different industries use it. So you’re ensured to find jobs of all types and levels, which will help you grow your freelance business and increase your income potential.
Lastly, you can look for freelance jobs on websites that aren’t necessarily job boards or job sites but list opportunities in specific niches. AngelList is an excellent place to find freelance jobs with startups, and you can sort them by location or type of job available. Dribbble, Behance, and Stackoverflow are other examples.
A final note about finding clients as a freelancer:
- Word-of-mouth is probably the most effective way to do this! People who know you in real life are more likely to trust you, especially if they’ve seen your work or if someone recommends you. So, not everything has to happen online. Sometimes, your best opportunities exist in your offline network.
Getting Started With Your First Freelance Project
Start small. Start with side projects and work on them while you gain experience in the field. Once you’ve got enough of that under your belt, take on bigger projects! For example, if you want to be a freelance programmer, you can start with simple student projects, moving on to a better job with HTML and CSS, and ending up as a full-stack developer.
We talked about where to find potential freelance clients in the previous section. Once you’ve found a prospective client, here’s just what you need to do:
Research the Client
Google the client’s name to learn more about their operations and history. Check out their account or company page on LinkedIn to see who they are and what kind of work they do.
Then move on to other venues and social media platforms. Explore Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see if you can find anything interesting from their posts and tweets about the project.
If you’re targeting a larger company or service provider, search for news stories. Reading an interview with the company’s founder or CEO can tell you about its culture and how they work.
Once you’ve found enough information, ask yourself:
- Do you like them?
- Does the project sound interesting? If not, move onto another gig.
Reach Out to the Client
Take the time to outline and write a detailed and compelling email. But keep it short and professional, but don’t forget to include the benefits of your skills. Show them that you’re a competent professional who can deliver quality work.
If the client doesn’t respond to your email within a week, it’s best to move on. On the other hand, if they contact you and there is interest, go ahead with the negotiation process.
And don’t be scared of rejection! It’s the only way to get your foot in the door and start earning money.
Create a Proposal
Make sure both of you’re clear on the scope of the project. Some clients only have a vague idea of what they want. If you don’t receive enough information from the client, ask questions and don’t leave anything to interpretation. You don’t want to do all the work only to have the customer reject it or ask for major changes.
Ask the client to answer these questions early on:
- How should we go about this project?
- What are our goals and objectives with this project?
- Have any questions or concerns?
Once you have a clear idea of what is needed, it’s time to make your proposal.
Your Freelance job proposal should include:
- a thorough description of the work
- breakdown of the tasks
- estimated timeline
- budget costs and budgetary guidelines
- standard operating procedures
Establish Your Rates
Working as a freelancer is a creative way to make money. When working as a freelancer, make arrangements with your clients before working on their projects and freelance job. Find an estimate for your rate based on the real world market average and adjust it according to your skills and experience. As part of the client’s screening process, you’ll need to provide a rate to them.
Also, consider your costs. Just because you’re working from home doing remote work doesn’t mean you don’t have any expenses.
- What if your computer crashes and needs to be replaced?
- What if you need a new software license or have to pay for education courses related to the project?
Make sure your budgetary guidelines take these factors into account.
Be specific and clear on the payment terms. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re working for months and then get paid at the end. Make sure that every project is outlined with specific payment terms, preferably per day or week rather than lump-sum payments. Moreover, make sure your customers are aware of how they will be billed for your service.
Deliver Your Work on Schedule
As a freelancer, you want to have a reputation for being organized and true to your word. If you tell your prospective clients that the project will be finished in three weeks, finish it in three weeks. However, try not to set a timeline too close to the due date; there may be unforeseen delays for which you want some wiggle room.
Your work should also go through multiple rounds of evaluation before being delivered to ensure that you’re delivering your best work. So, include some time for evaluation and revision when you’re creating the schedule.
Ask for Feedback
Learning to ask for feedback is an important skill that will help you in your future freelance endeavors. It helps you find out if there are any problems with the work that you need to address. Plus, you get to find out if your client is happy with the project! If they are, maybe you can ask them for a referral or testimonial.
Establish a Relationship With Clients
The best ways to make money online with no experience involves client relationships. Building a steady relationship with customers is the key to becoming a successful freelancer. You can do this by putting in extra effort, doing a great job, and being consistent at what you do best.
Be friendly and welcoming! Interaction with your customers should leave them feeling like they can trust you. Otherwise, they may not return, and you’ll have to constantly search for new customers.
Aim for Repeat Business
Return customers are some of your best customers because they already trust you. Plus, you’ve already spent time (and perhaps money) on attracting them. So, when they ask you to work on their new projects, you’ll have a higher margin.
Give them incentives to return, such as loyalty rewards or discounts. You can also offer credits towards future purchases if they refer others! This approach is called word-of-mouth marketing, and it works wonders.
Manage Customer Expectations
Some of your clients may want you to work on more than one project at a time or even have urgent deadlines. However, you should set the tone of the business relationship in a way that benefits your and your customers.
Avoid conflicts by scheduling regular meetings with your clients to discuss their projects. This way, you’ll realize when they’re unhappy and take steps in the right direction.
Define a communication channel and make sure all your communication stays in one place. You don’t want to miss important messages. The phone is usually not the best medium for business because it takes up too much time, and it’s hard to refer back to the conversations. Email is usually a great way to stay in touch. Some clients may use messaging platforms like Slack or project management tools like Asana to communicate with their team.
The key to building good relationships is being patient, attentive, and listening well!
Stay Professional at All Times
Remember that your first encounter with the client will most likely happen online. You might never see your customer face-to-face. So, it’s so important to have a professional tone and avoid sounding too informal.
If you’re going to have a video call, wear professional attire and groom yourself to show you care. Many clients consider it a sign of respect when they see that the freelancer has taken time to prepare themselves before a meeting.
This will also help you become more confident when speaking with your customer, which will, in turn, make them feel less stressed and uneasy about what they’re paying for.
Be Generous With Potential Clients
Not everyone will become your customer. More often than not, you’ll spend time preparing pitches and proposals that’ll get rejected. Over time, you may become to put serious effort into attracting potential clients because they might not give you their business.
However, this attitude can hinder your success. Be kind, and still provide them with the best service you have to offer. The more proposals that get rejected, the less time it’ll take for one of those clients to come back around when they’re ready to make a decision.
Never underestimate the power of free advice. People love to hear what you know, so offer your services or advice for no charge. You’ll make a great impression and maybe even gain a customer!
Tips for Advancing Your Freelance Career
Promote Your Portfolio
A portfolio of your best work can be a great way to show potential employers that you’re an experienced, passionate worker. List out the projects you’ve worked on and describe what you did in each of those projects.
Besides helping you get work, having a neat portfolio will show you’re serious about your career.
Be sure to promote your portfolio on your social media accounts, as well.
- Include achievements in the portfolio (e.g., awards won) to show prospective clients how passionate you are about what you do and how good at it you are too!
- Make sure that all of your work is presentable on a digital format so employers can easily view everything from one place
You should also include some information about yourself with each project. This includes:
- Your name & contact info – include links to your website or social media pages if available; however don’t overpromote by including dozens of links every time they’re relevant for just one job.
- The description of the project(s) you completed
- The company that hired me etc.
Know Your Experience Worth
One common mistake new freelancers make is not charging enough! You need to set your rates based on what others in your field are making and consider how much time it takes you to complete one task.
It’s tempting to ask for low prices or do under the table jobs to beat the competition and get a client. But be careful! It becomes hard to raise prices later without hurting business.
If you’re a beginner, it’s okay to charge a bit below the market average. However, you need to think about your rates in the future when you’re more experienced and have a track record of completing projects.
Develop Your Skills and Expertise
As a freelancer, you need to constantly learn new things and be aware of market trends to stay competitive. You can do this by reading about what your competitors are doing, blog hopping, trying new tools, and attending conferences.
Don’t spend all your time working. Set aside a period to read the news in your industry and learn new ways to do your job better.
It might even be fun to take unrelated classes every once in a while. It’ll help break your routine and give you new perspectives. You may even have an aha moment and come up with an innovative way to make more money.
Network With Other Freelancers
Some people consider networking with other freelancers a bad move because you shouldn’t be friends with competitors. However, if you network with other freelancers, you can learn from their experiences and mistakes. It’s a great way to find mentors.
Plus, you can share information about which type of clients are worth taking and which ones will waste your time.
It also helps to have a support system if things go wrong or if you need advice from someone who understands freelancing.
Freelance Job & Freelance Projects Success
Freelancers don’t become successful overnight rather it takes time, patience, the right talent, providing the right services, and discipline. Search for opportunities both online and offline. However it is a great way how to make $2000 in a month fast.
Once you land your first gig, be punctual and professional to earn your client’s trust, and they’ll be more likely to consider you and hire you again in the future.
Stay in touch with other freelancers. They can support you by sharing experiences, referring clients, and even picking up the slack if you land a large project. And invest in yourself and your skills. Once you have a routine and steady client base, it’s easier to make more money and spend less time looking for new clients.