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Can You Make Freelancing Your Career? 5 Expert Tips

Becky BenshoofBecky Benshoof
Becky Benshoof
Becky Benshoof

Freelancing traditionally has had a bad rap. When people think of freelance work, they may often think of inconsistent and unreliable work, living from paycheck to paycheck, and struggling to get by. All stereotypes exist for a reason, but your full-time freelancing career doesn’t have to be an endless struggle.

Recent studies by Upwork and Freshbooks show that more people are freelancing now more than ever and for good reasons. 

  • 57 million American’s, about 35% of the US workforce, worked independently in 2019 (Upwork)
  • 83% are becoming self-employed professionals (Freshbooks)
  • Most freelancers say “they’re less stressed, have more work-life balance, earn more, and are healthier than in a traditional job” (Freshbooks)

There are thousands of successful independent workers out there, working remotely, being a business owner over their own freelance business, and freelancing full-time or part-time. If you’re ready to make your side gig a full-time job or are wondering where you can get started, we’ve got you covered.  

How You Can Become a Successful Freelancer

Decide What Freelance Career Path is Right for You

If you don’t already have a freelance career in mind, then it’s time that you pick one. There are freelance jobs available in almost every industry. You may be able to translate your current day job to a freelance profession. Or if you’re looking at taking your career in a new direction check out this list by CNBC for the Highest Paying Freelance Jobs of 2020

Build a Website and Portfolio for Your Freelance Business

Before you can really start ramping up your client base, you must look the part. This means creating a professional website tailored to the ideal client. Creating a website that reflects your personal style may be tempting, but you should be focused on a design that will attract and resonate with potential clients. Keeping it clean and simple is usually the best bet.

Check out some other successful freelancers websites in your industry for inspiration. When creating a website make sure to include an opening section that speaks to your ideal client. This is where you highlight their pain points and how you will solve their problems. 

Include information about your services and a portfolio or examples of your work. Make sure you also have your contact information or a contact form available. An About section is great to have as well, to give potential clients insight into who you are. Remember to keep it professional.

After you’ve had some successful projects and client relationships, you can add a testimonials section. This is important as social proof helps build your credibility.

While many independent workers get started without creating a website, it’s an important tool for your business, not only the help you look professional, but also to help you market your services.

Start Marketing Yourself to Find Work

Once you look at the part you need to start spreading the word about your new business. Don’t be shy! Share the news on social media and let your friends and family know. They may be able to offer small projects to help you build your portfolio or give you referrals for potential work.

Make connections with other freelancers. Rather than viewing other independent workers in your industry as competition view them as valuable connections. By building relationships with other freelancers you can learn more about freelancing, build partnerships, and pave the way for mutually beneficial opportunities.

Check out our article on 5 Effective Ways to Find Freelancing Jobs for more tips on how to find work and clients.

Know What Your Business is Worth

Once you’ve made the decision to start freelancing full-time, you’ve also made the decision to become a business owner. So start thinking like a business owner and not an employee. 

Part of turning an independent job into a successful business is getting paid fairly. There are a lot of people out there looking for cheap work and may not understand the value of your services.

When putting together a price list, some independent workers prefer to charge an hourly rate, while others prefer to charge flat rates for the project. There is no right or wrong way but just make sure that you take your larger financial goals into account.

Try our pricing calculator for help setting your rates.

Keep Going and Continue Building Your Business

When you’re just starting out it can be exhausting constantly  marketing yourself to look for potential clients. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for immediately. Starting any new venture takes time, so keep tracking wins along the way and remember: stay positive and keep going.

Feeling inspired? For more great insight on this subject, read our articles Getting Started Freelancing and The Best Websites for Freelance Writing.

Becky Benshoof
Nikki Wisher has been writing professionally since January 2015, and she's written about just about everything from plastic surgery to accounting. She took the plunge into full-time freelancing in July 2018 and she hasn't looked back since. As much as Nikki loves hopping from one topic to another throughout the day, her top specialties include health and wellness, marketing, home decor, and career development (especially for freelancers and entrepreneurs). Originally from Ohio, Nikki lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two floofy cats. When she steps away from the keyboard, Nikki loves knitting, crocheting, hiking, and enjoying her adopted city.

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