July 20, 2023

LibertyProfessional Development

How to Start Your Freelance Career

By: Frances Floresca

It is the dream of many people to escape working the 9 to 5 job and becoming their own boss. However, starting a freelance career is more daunting than it may seem, but it is worth your time and energy. 

I am just at the start of my career as a freelancer after working 9 to 5 jobs for several years.

The key to starting a freelance career: Have a good mentor. Make sure your mentor is in a similar field to you. If you are a freelance journalist, you probably do not want someone who does computer programming as a mentor. 

You should next ask yourself, what services will you offer? It is important to know your strengths and skills, as well how you will stand out. As much as possible, you should try to focus on one to two areas for your work. However, it is still okay to provide other services. Also, never forget to continue developing your skills. 

A friend of mine who has been a freelancer for nearly a decade primarily does public relations, as well as reporting and policy, but she also does speaking gigs, marketing, and photography and videography. 

Next, identify potential clients. Who needs your services? How many potential clients could you have?It is important to not bite off more than you can chew when it comes to clients. How many clients you take on can depend on what work you do. 

Another friend who is a full-time freelance photographer, has different clients almost everyday of the week since she specializes in weddings. I have several clients I primarily do work for, and I typically have to schedule and figure when I do work for them. As much as possible, I focus on the high-ticket clients first, then when I find the time, I do work for others. 

One of the most challenging parts of becoming a freelancer is setting rates. For some groups, you can write a proposal, as well as negotiate pay. But for others, the process can be tricky to navigate. Know your worth, talk to your network, decide a minimum acceptable rate, and be assertive. 

Do not forget to set up a portfolio or website, but make sure you have a LinkedIn account first, which will be vital for sharing your skills, previous work, and networking. Know your budget for your website and how much you want to spend on it. Some sites people use are Wix, Google Sites, SquareSpace, or WordPress. You can also create profiles on Upwork or Fiverr

One key aspect of being a freelancer is advocating for yourself and networking. Reach out to people on LinkedIn and through email, and even tap into your network and go to events. You never know what you will find. Tell your network that you are becoming a full-time freelancer. You will build more credibility and potentially generate leads. 

Many people become freelancers in different ways. For me, I was already doing some freelance work I would do when I had a 9 to 5 job, and I ended up doing this full time.

It can be a little scary when you start, but as you continue to grow, the possibilities are endless. You have so much more freedom in your work as your own boss and setting your own schedule. Sometimes, it just takes a leap of faith.