Starting your career as a FREELANCER
According to Wikipedia, a freelancer is a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term. Freelancing can be a great way to make money on the side even if you have a full time job. Some people do this as a hobby but there are others who are passionate about it and feel the need to make it a full time thing. At first it may seem scary wanting to depend solely on freelancing and not having that “end of the month assurance” but it is not a bad choice for those who want to give their full attention to it. The best part is, you get to work on what you love and are genuinely interested in. if you have summoned up the courage and chosen to go down this path, the following are some steps that could help you kick-start your freelancing career;
Identify your skills and strengths
when you decide to embark on the journey of freelancing, the first thing you need to take into account that negative thoughts would come, uncertainties and self-doubt would creep in and you may find yourself thinking “can I do this? Would this work?” Get rid of this self-doubt and focus on your skills, what you’re good at, why you decided to do this in the first place and the vision you have. Understand that your idea isn’t just a passing thought, it is more like a business plan. Think of what you are very good at and make that the basis of your work. Give your chosen path a definite structure, find out what clients that would need your services are looking for and focus on that part. Your skills are what you’re selling as a freelancer, people hire you based on what you can do. Don’t forget that.
Marketing your skills
The need for marketing your skills cannot be underestimated. Start with doing it the traditional way. Go local; ask your friends, family, connections etc. if they know anyone who needs your services. Talk to people and you may just find out their needs and know how to render services to them. Even before you fully start your career, create some kind of buzz about it. Create a social media account, reach out to as many people as you can and get them to reach out to as many people as they can and so on… if possible, get business cards ready to give people that come your way. This makes people take you seriously. Give people a precise description of what you are about and make sure they understand so they can pass on the message.
Finding work as a freelancer
Please take into account that in the beginning of freelancing, it is more about gathering experience and building a client base and less about the money even though that is equally important. It may seem like the best place to find this kind of work is through global market places and you get an influx of clients because “hello internet”. Well it isn’t true, the best place to find clients are people you actually know, this helps you to build a reputation. You may not get a lot of profit from it but they talk to more people about your services and you gain expertise in the end. This may not seem pleasant to your ears, but the truth is that, you need this expertise if you’re going to secure that “online gig”. They wouldn’t hire you based on what you think you can do but based on what you have done. So put your skills into working for people you actually know and are in your immediate environment. This makes it easier to secure better gigs with better pay rates. Remember this “never work for free” even as a startup; this could devalue your services. You’re gaining experience but you’re still working for it so make sure you charge a fee!
Delivering a successful project
As a freelancer, you need to know all the soft skills in business that would make you reliable and an asset to your clients. Get help when you need it, don’t act like you know everything. That is why it is important that you connect with your clients if the project is going to be successful. Be consistent about being professional, draw out a plan for how you want the job to go and follow through meticulously. Learn how to manage your time effectively. Decide to make conscious effort to deliver the best on every project.
Freelancing is a serious step and demands commitment if you want to be successful. Adequate planning and discipline would make you stand out and help you build a secure career. Put your mind to it and at the end of the day, it would all be worth it.