How to Become a Freelancer: A Guide for Beginners

How to Become a Freelancer: A Guide for Beginners

With a worldwide shift to remote working and more importance being placed on a good work‒life balance, freelancing is more popular than ever.

In our comprehensive guide, we explore:

  • What freelancing involves
  • The benefits and drawbacks of freelancing
  • The steps you can take to become a freelancer

What Is Freelancing?

Freelancing is a form of self-employed work. Freelancers work with clients on a flexible, contractual basis, rather than as full-time employees, providing a service or product in exchange for payment.

Freelancers can work in a variety of areas, including:

  • Web development
  • Graphic design
  • Marketing
  • Photography
  • Illustration
  • Copywriting
  • Proofreading and editing

Freelance work tends to be short-term, with freelancers looking for new clients once they have completed a particular task. However, longer-term projects may be available depending on the specific industry.

Freelancers may work from home, while traveling, or at shared coworking spaces.

What Are the Benefits of Freelancing?

The benefits of freelancing are well-documented and include:

This makes freelance work a great option for anyone looking for more control over their workload and schedule, especially students, parents, and retirees.

What Are the Drawbacks of Freelancing?

However, like any type of work, freelancing isn’t for everyone. Keep in mind that, as a freelancer:

  • You will have to take on financial and administrative tasks, such as registering as self-employed and paying your taxes.
  • You won’t receive the benefits you would be entitled to as a company’s employee, such as holiday leave and a pension plan.
  • Your income can be unstable, as you will likely have varying numbers of clients each month ‒ and some clients may even refuse to pay.
  • You may be more likely to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation than traditional office workers.

It’s important to consider these issues when deciding whether freelancing is right for you.

How to Become a Freelancer

1. Consider Your Reasons for Freelancing

Before making any decisions, think about why you want to become a freelancer.

Are you planning to work while you travel? Do you want a more flexible schedule? Will you carry on with your current job part-time, or are you looking to change careers completely?

Identifying your reasons for freelancing will help you plan your next steps, and identify the specific industry or area you would like to work in.

2. Review Your Skills and Experience

While you can start a freelance career without any experience, it’s important to take note of your current skills and background and how they can help you pursue the freelance lifestyle. Identify your soft skills, then think about the more specific skills, qualifications, or experience you possess.

This is for two reasons:

  1. It will help you identify any skill gaps
  2. It can help narrow down the potential industry you work in

For example, if you have a degree in English, this would be a huge benefit if you planned to start a freelance proofreading business.

3. Research Potential Freelance Careers

You may already have an idea of the type of freelance career you’d like to pursue. If this is the case, research that career by:

  • Identifying financial details such as potential earnings and startup costs
  • Looking up the entry requirements for the industry (e.g., do you need a specific qualification?)
  • Reviewing job postings
  • Contacting freelance professionals in the same line of work

If you’re not sure what industry you would like to work in, use the skills and experience you identified above to help narrow down your options.

4. Take Additional Training

You should now have a list of your current skills, and an idea of the skill set your chosen freelance career requires. If there are any noticeable gaps, you should be able to fill these by undergoing additional training in the form of:

  • Online courses
  • Registered qualifications
  • Training materials such as books and videos
  • Internship or mentorship programs

5. Set SMART Goals

If you’ve identified your reasons for becoming a freelancer, what industry you want to specialize in, and what training you need to take to do so, it’s time to set some concrete goals.

SMART goals are goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

In the context of becoming a freelancer, your goals might include how much work experience you plan on gaining, how much you intend to be earning by a certain date, or when you intend to move to freelancing full-time.

6. Update Your Resume

A freelance resume might be slightly different from a more traditional resume, particularly if you don’t yet have much experience. Consider building a skills-based resume that highlights your skills, or a combination resume that includes any relevant experience, including volunteer work or tasks you have performed in other roles.

If you’ve already undertaken some training in preparation for your freelance career, make sure this is included too.

And don’t forget to make it clear that you’re looking for freelance work. You might put the word ‘freelance’ somewhere in your job title or include it in your personal statement.

7. Network and Market Yourself

Finally, it’s time to start finding clients. Working freelance means it’s up to you to find work, but luckily networking and marketing can make this easier.

Get started by:

By making new connections through networking and marketing, you increase the potential clients you can reach ‒ which is essential to ensuring freelance success.

Becoming a Freelancer

Knowadays courses are the perfect way to kickstart a new freelance career. Like the sound of becoming a freelance writer, proofreader, or editor? Get started by trying some free lessons today!

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