As a career, freelancing has probably never been as appealing as it is right now. The whole world has accustomed itself to remote working and geographical boundaries are no longer a hindrance. All you need is an internet connection and a laptop and you can freelance for clients based anywhere in the world, from anywhere in the world.
Freedom, flexibility, and the opportunity to set your own salary are at your fingertips. However, if you’re looking to tackle the world of freelancing in 2023, there are some important steps you need to take and lessons you need to learn before you jump in.
Define Your Skill Set
The first step you need to take is to define your area of expertise and determine what your unique selling point (USP) is. Every brand has a USP and even if you’re going solo, you need one too. It’s what gives you the edge and makes you the right person for a specific job.
You need to clearly define your USP in these 3 key areas:
- Experience level
For example, you could be a copywriter, but you should be more specific than that. What do you specialize in? Which areas do you have the most experience in? You could be better at short-form advertising copy that goes on flyers. Alternatively, you could be better at long-form copy for blog posts or whitepapers. You could also specialize in writing for the financial sector or the beauty and lifestyle industry.
By defining these skills and your experience you have a base for marketing yourself to potential clients. You also have a way to set yourself apart from the sea of other freelance copywriters looking for work.
Create A Strong Portfolio
Now it’s time to put together a portfolio to showcase your skill set. You need three things to help potential clients see why they should hire you:
- A resume to highlight your experience
- A portfolio showcasing work you’ve done
- A list of previous clients and testimonials if available
Even if you’ve never freelanced before, you should be able to put something together that highlights your skills and any experience you’ve had working for companies. In your resume, it’s important to highlight specific areas of experience that are relevant to the services you’re offering as a freelancer.
It’s also a good idea to highlight other soft skills that you’ve gained from your career. These include time management skills, communication abilities, and any leadership positions you’ve held. With these skills, you’re showing your potential clients that you’re trustworthy and reliable as a freelancer.
Ideally, a portfolio should showcase work you’ve done for clients, either as a freelancer or as an employee of a company. This isn’t always possible, so you can put together a portfolio of work that you create specifically for showing clients. Just remember to replace this work with projects you’ve completed for clients as you go.
Finally, you want to show your potential clients that other people or businesses are happy to say you’ve done work for them. It’s always good to have a list of past clients as proof you’ve worked in a particular industry. If any clients are willing to provide testimonials, that’s even better.
Detail Your Rates Card
The next step is to set down what you’re worth. This is often one of the hardest tasks for a new freelancer because you’ve never had to define a rate per project or per hour before. If you’ve had a steady salary previously, you can work out what your hourly rate was from that. This is a good starting point.
Another way to build your base rate is to do some online research. There are plenty of websites for freelancers to promote their services, and you can use those to get an idea of what the going rate is. Remember to consider your level of experience and what the market allows for.
Most clients will come to you for a quote. They may have a budget in mind, or they may not. Many will look to you as the expert to guide them in how much a project or retainer work will cost. It’s therefore important that you have a base idea of what you need to earn for the work required.
What will help you look professional is having a rate card with your general rates set out on it. You can use this in your quotes and when creating a self employed invoice template too. This will make your entire billing system simple and help you keep consistency for clients—from quoting to final payment.
Build An Online Presence
Now that you have the basics in place, it’s time to think about how you’re going to market yourself to clients. Having your own website—even a simple one—is a good start. It gives you a place that you control online where you can host your portfolio and people can contact you directly.
Social media is also an important element of building a professional online presence. Remember to separate your personal profiles from your professional ones. Unless you’re selling yourself as a food photographer, a potential client isn’t likely to want to see what you had for brunch on Instagram.
Finally, look at the many online platforms for freelancers. Fiverr and Upwork are the two big ones at the moment, but there are several other options too. Do some research, and you’ll be able to find many more that are possibly better suited to your particular niche of freelance services.
The Key Takeaway: Stay Professional In Everything You Do
When starting your freelance career it’s essential that you’re seen as a professional. You are your own brand and everything you do must reflect this. Whether you’re communicating with clients, marketing yourself, or sending out invoices, maintaining your professionalism is key.
You want potential clients to feel confident about hiring you because they can immediately see that you take your freelancing seriously.
If you create the right impression, you’re sure to land the job, and possibly a repeat client too.