How Can I Become a Freelancer?
As the gig economy around the world grows, project-based and freelance job offerings abound for those choosing less conventional career paths and going into gig work.
What are freelancers?
Freelancers are professionals who receive payment based on one-off projects, or “gigs” that they have completed. This creates a flexible work environment across industries and skillsets, where employers pay only for the work performed by the freelancer.
There are different types of freelancers in various industries, such as:
Food and Beverage
Why freelance work?
People go into gig work for various reasons. Some do it to broaden their horizons in a chosen field, some for the additional income. Others might be considering a move away from full-time employment or prefer the flexibility that gig work provides. Regardless, gig work gives people the freedom to choose what they want to do.
How can I be a freelancer?
Here are five tips if you’re looking to get into freelancing work:
1. Understand your chosen field
Being well-versed about the industry or role you are in is a cornerstone of freelance work. Not only will prospective clients see you as knowledgeable and well-informed, you could also avoid pitfalls or gaffes that might make you seem like a newbie in the industry. In some cases, having certification from well-known institutions in the field will boost your chances of getting jobs.
2. Define your services and target audience
The freelance economy is ultimately about matching freelance workers’ skillsets to employers’ needs. Your skills are thus your business product. By putting yourself into the shoes of prospective clients and understanding their situations, you’ll be better able to assess how your skillsets can help solve their issues. This, in turn, will help you package your skills as a service.
At the same time, identify the type of clients who would need your services. Are there any similarities or characteristics of these clients, perhaps a certain industry or a common problem? Some research, such as an environmental scan or customer profiling, could help you with establishing this. Then, you’ll be able to confidently position your services and value in the industry to potential clients.
3. Have a pricing structure
It can be challenging to set a price to your services as there is no perfect algorithm. You could look at other freelancers in the market for a start—how much are they charging for similar services? Most freelancers who are not dependent on a fixed-price platform (i.e. set their own pricing structure) charge their clients either by time or project (fixed pricing).
To strike a balance between earning the maximum amount for your services and remaining competitively priced, you should consider what you’re bringing to the table, as well as what the projects expect of you.
What you bring:
4. Build up a portfolio
Providing samples of your past work is a tangible way of showing your experience, skills and acumen. Your portfolio should feature your best work related to your services. Each sample should illustrate clearly and concisely one or several aspects of your services, and how it helped the client achieve their goals. Examples of such work could include customer testimonials, data-backed results, case studies, and samples. Do remember to seek permission from past clients before featuring their projects in your portfolio.
5. Use online job portals/apps
Work might not immediately come your way when you’re first starting out as a freelancer. To increase your reach, join platforms that connect your services to potential clients. These job boards, portals and apps allow you to create a profile and provide details of your past work and relevant qualifications, enabling prospective clients to see if they would like to work with you. As you take on more jobs, customers who come across your established profile gain confidence in your experience and skills. Additionally, some of these sites have community forums, where you can connect, exchange insider tips, and share ideas with fellow freelancers.
How can I keep the work coming?
Getting into freelancing work may be easy, but it is more challenging to consistently maintain a steady stream of work. Here are some pointers to help you gain a foothold:
1. Continually develop your skills
There are always new things to learn in each job, be it new software, techniques, or styles. Through courses, peer-sharing, or online learning resources such as Udemy, constantly developing your skills in your chosen field will ensure that you remain abreast of industry updates and knowledge.
2. Establish professional networks
Networks not only help you know your competition, but they could also be a substantial source of work. Building these professional relationships and getting to know fellow professionals will help you keep up with the latest trends and updates in the industry. Networking events, job fairs, and workshops are all good avenues to meet industry peers.
3. Share your portfolio
Portfolios are a great way to showcase your abilities and achievements, but people have got to know about it! Find ways to share your portfolio, be it through a personal website, on gig or job board profiles, or even printed copies to give away at networking sessions.
4. Ask for referrals/recommendations
Whenever a client is happy or satisfied with the completed project or work, seize the opportunity to ask for a testimonial that you can put up on your personal website. Better yet, invite them to consider referring you to their networks! Sometimes, word-of-mouth recommendations are the best form of publicity, especially when coming from a familiar or trusted contact.
5. Remember your purpose
It is easy to get lost and caught up in the pace of things when one doesn’t have clear sight of their goal. There is always one more opportunity, the next higher pricing structure, or that big-name client to work with. But keeping in mind why you decided to freelance and what you want to achieve through freelancing will help you to focus and zero in on jobs that will help you get to where you want to be.
Cope, Sean. “How to Become a Freelancer in 2022: The Complete Guide”. Upwork. Published 11 March 2021, https://www.upwork.com/resources/how-to-become-a-freelancer
Herrity, Jennifer. “What is a Gig Worker? And How to Find a Job in the Gig Economy?”. Indeed. Updated 30 August 2022, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/gig-worker
Petriglieri, Gianpiero, Ahford, Susan J., & Wrzesniewski, Amy. “Thriving in the Gig Economy”. Harvard Business Review. Accessed 8 December 2022, https://hbr.org/2018/03/thriving-in-the-gig-economy