How to Become a Successful Freelancer and Actually Make Money

A combination of the right skills, attitude, and planning help mold a successful freelancer. When one of these factors is missing, it will be difficult for anyone to make freelancing work long-term. Before you leave your full-time job, you have to objectively assess your talent and values to ensure that you are ready to become a freelancer. Here are the foundational requirements that you need to be a successful freelancer:

A Plan

Don’t do freelancing for the wrong reasons. If you equate freelancing jobs with easy money schemes, that’s not how it works. Just like any other job, freelancing comes with pros and cons.  In short, freelancing is the easiest job in the world. Although freelancing can be the most fun, it does come with many challenges that you need to overcome before you replace your full salary at a corporate job. Without a plan you won’t be able to easily find “tasks” or jobs. Most freelancers step into the business with a couple of clients that follow them from prior job engagements. If you’re not fortunate enough to have a follower to jump start your gig, there are several online websites to assist you with finding jobs. Mike Volkin from Freelancer Masterclass has a great podcast episode to help you find freelancing jobs. Take a listen to that piece, it’s worth the 7 minutes.

You need a concrete plan to clarify your goals and to determine the type of work you are willing to do for clients. Part of planning is to have enough money to cover for the expenses that you will incur while looking for high-paying clients. It is recommended to have at least three months of expenses saved before you start transitioning to be a full-time freelancer.

Becoming a freelancer is a big leap. You need to plan ahead and carefully study all your options first before making that switch. It’s always better to have a Plan B or C in place in case your original plan doesn’t turn out as expected.

Your Skills

You can’t freelance if you don’t know what skill you will offer to clients. If you’re confident that you have many skills, focus on only one because you don’t want to come across as a generalist. When choosing which expertise to offer, don’t so much worry about your competition, focus on what you like to do. If you pick a niche your passionate about, your successful will follow suit.

If you’re not sure what your dominant skill is, use online tools to help you identify what your strengths are. These tools will test your knowledge in different areas: leadership, decision making, communication skills, time management, and personal mastery. Use the results of the tests to help you weigh in which profession do you excel. There are many of these tools online, one popular one is Mind Tools.

Your Rate

Freelancing rates differ depending on many factors, such as the type of industry, skill set, expertise, training, and geographical location. For instance, freelance writers from countries where English is not the first language usually have a lower rate compared to writers from the US and the UK. If you’re a newbie freelancer, don’t expect that prospects will offer you the same price as experienced freelancers.

There is one formula that you can use to determine your hourly rate, and that is to drop three zeros from your annual income. For instance, if your yearly salary is $80,000, take out the three zeros to give you $80, which should be a starting point for your hourly rate. You can price your service a little bit higher or lower than this figure, once you start working and you can gauge how in demand you are. If you are full of work, raise the price. If you can’t seem to close a client, then lower the price.

A Network

Start building your roster of possible clients at least a month before you quit your regular job. You want to stay in your fulltime job while doing small scale freelance projects as you are still building your network (it’s called a side-hustle). This way, you will have a steady source of income while looking for more clients.

Once you get two to three clients who give you regular projects and pay you on-time, then you can smoothly transition into freelancing. Don’t settle for a few clients only because you need to have a fall back during dry spells. You have to extend your reach to as many people as possible by doing prospecting every day.

There are many effective ways to build your network. The first technique is to make everyone (your friends, family, former bosses, and workmates, classmates, etc.) know that you are accepting freelance work. Send them a message saying that you are taking remote jobs. If they don’t need your service, politely ask for referrals.

The Right Tools

There are many tools that you can use to organize your work and become more productive. Some resources can help you automate your work, which saves you time and allows you to finish more tasks. Free tools have limited capabilities and often come with annoying ads or phishing software. If you like to use these tools without the hassles, subscribe to their premium version.

The tools that you need are grouped into different categories. Some of the most useful tools include:

Project Management App: This tool helps in scheduling, setting reminders and deadlines, assigning and tracking task progress, and communicating with the team. Teamwork is a fantastic app for project management.

Video-Sharing App: Allows you to share your screen with someone else in real-time. Check out Zoom.us

Payment Options: Enables you to receive payment no matter where you are at in the world. Check out QuickBooks and FreshBooks for this.

Scheduling App: Allows other people to book an appointment on your available schedule. Check out Calend.ly.

Freelancing is a career that requires careful planning and preparation. You need to make sure that you have all the foundation requirements outlined above to make it to the top.

Ruben Roel

Ruben Roel is a Marketing Professional based out of Dallas, TX. He is the Executive Editor for Vtrep. Fluently speaks digital media, small business development, and search engine marketing. Ruben can be reached via email: editor@vtrep.com