For many people, their day job just isn’t cutting it. Whether it’s because you need extra money or extra fulfillment, you may be wondering how to start freelancing.
Letting people hire you in your free time is a great way to accomplish both of those. But many aren’t sure about the idea. How do you become a freelancer, exactly? Where do you learn how to freelance before jumping in? Will it fit into my schedule? Will someone actually pay me to do this kind of work?
Here, we’ll answer these questions.
Why You Should Consider Freelancing
Freelancing is one of the few ways of working that doesn’t require you to go into a particular office every day at a specific time. If you’re already working full-time, that freedom is going to mean a lot. This is also true if you’re a college student, who might need to have time available for classes or to get papers written. There isn’t much that you’ll need to get started, either. The tools of your trade (a drawing tablet, a computer with coding software), a way to get online, and the savvy to find clients will make up your freelancing starter kit. It’s an excellent choice that doesn’t take a lot of resources to start doing!
The Perfect Balance
Perhaps the only real drawback to freelancing while working is that you’re going to have to put effort into keeping everything in balance. Your schedule is something that you should consider before you decide to begin. Think about how many hours a week you can feasibly freelance while also working full-time. Keep things at a healthy level, if you can. Working sixteen-hour days might be okay for a bank account, but not for your health. You need time to eat, sleep, and relax if you want to be healthy. So your first step is to make sure that the expectations of how much you can do are practical.
Know Your Goals
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to freelance. It varies from person to person, and even those with similar answers might have vastly different motives. Ask yourself what you hope to get from this. Are you trying to supplement your pay from work? Are you looking for the fulfillment you don’t get from your day job? Are you hoping to leave your job one day and start freelancing full-time, but can’t quit just yet? Knowing why you want to freelance and the goals you cherish to reach will help you in the long run.
Find Your Market
Whether you’re a writer, a graphic designer, or a programmer, your industry is going to have many niche markets. In order to be successful, it’s a good idea to find the one you can focus on. This should be a market that you are knowledgeable of and enjoy. You’ll be spending a great deal of time working in it, so you shouldn’t choose something that you dislike. If you have never enjoyed doing any research paper yourself, you probably won’t enjoy having a client ask you to “do my research paper for me.” You should also keep your day job in mind since you can use the experience to your benefit. Those in the health field who want to write might consider doing medical writing, for example.
Prepare Your Portfolio
Portfolios are an essential part of being a freelancer. It’s a record of what you’ve done, and an example of what a potential client might expect from you. Because of that, you should really curate what you put into your portfolio. There should be a range of different things within the niche that you’ve chosen. The best way to present this portfolio is usually on your own website so that you can direct any interested parties there. There are many free or cheap options for this, so there’s bound to be an option that you’ll like.
Determine Your Price
Of course, no matter why you want to freelance, you want to get paid! But how much should you expect your clients to pay you? Even seasoned freelancers can have a difficult time determining what their prices should be. If you’re feeling confused and aren’t sure about the pricing, do research. Finding out what others offer for similar products can help you come to a fair price. You should try to keep these costs competitive, but you shouldn’t undercut yourself, either. If your work is of high quality, you should be paid fairly. Be careful of those who might try to haggle you to a ridiculous rate!
Keep Things Separate
This is a tip that can save both your freelancing career as well as a full-time job. You should take care and never let your freelancing bleed into your job. Most workplaces don’t hire people freelancing with company supplies or on company time well. You shouldn’t also consider marketing through those you meet at work while you’re still employed there. Poaching customers is also highly unethical and will likely end with you being fired. It’s best to keep everything separate. Freelance work should be done on your own equipment in your private time.
Freelancing is a great way to achieve goals outside of your full-time job. It’s more than possible to freelance while still being employed, though there are certain drawbacks. But, with some planning, you can be very successful.