Whether you’re working part-time or full-time, you may want an extra gig to save for that trip, or maybe you’re looking to freelance full-time in the future. Before you make the decision, it’s important to know some of these tips to be best prepared.
Freelancing can be rewarding, but it takes a lot of hard work, determination, and an awareness of where to find work.
Finding available jobs should be the easier part. Thanks to modern technology and the internet, there is a plethora of websites and apps that can give you access to a lot of freelance clients and gigs looking for freelancers.
But you’ll likely be competing with other freelancers for the work, so use these tips to be as prepared as possible.
1. Create a Money Cushion
Starting off as a freelancer will likely be slow. It can take time to find that first job, and it can take longer to create a reputation and work record to attract the bigger jobs.
Make sure you have a good amount in your savings to help you tough out the slow periods, and the possible emergency financial situation.
Some great ways to save before you take the leap into freelancing is to create a budget. From budgeting apps to putting money into your savings account each month, there are ways to complete your budget and put some aside for potential tough times.
If you have not started saving already, now is the time to start as you consider freelancing.
One good way to make a financial cushion for yourself is to see if your bank has auto-deposit features in their app or to use an automatic savings/investment app like Acorns.
There are apps that have a function that you can activate to have auto-withdrawals from your checking account that then get deposited in a savings.
That way, you can save money without having to think about it, and you can focus more on finding your next freelance gig and managing your budget.
Once you begin freelancing, you will want to take into account your potential earnings by the day or week, and budget accordingly. Even with money tucked away in your savings, it is best to try budgeting according to your earnings so that you continue to have a growing savings, in case of true emergencies.
So, hold off on that iced coffee until you’re sure you can afford it. For treats, you’ll want to put a little money aside for “spare change”, but only after you’ve accounted for everything else.
2. Get Ready to Search for Work Every Day
It’s not going to be easy to find that first gig. You will be competing with other freelancers every day to get the same jobs. When you find a job that sounds interesting to you, you can bet there will be another freelancer thinking the same.
You will need to learn to craft proposals for your potential clients, how to attract them with your experience and price, and most of all, you will need to motivate yourself to keep trying.
You will most likely not get your first gig right away. And when you do get that first gig, keep looking for more until you’re sure that you’re making enough to support yourself.
There are a wealth of jobs out there, and you can find them on sites such as these:
Bear in mind, that some of these will have clients looking for freelancers, and on sites such as Fiverr, you will be the freelancer advertising your own services. Both are equally valuable ways of finding work.
Like from the first tip, if you’re budgeting according to your freelance earnings by the day or by the week, it’s easy to motivate yourself as you watch the numbers grow with each gig you successfully grab. So, don’t give up, and continually improve on those proposals.
3. Deciding on a Specialty or Field
While it helps to be adaptable and flexible in your ability to research on many topics and do many things, it also will benefit you to find a specialty in your freelancing.
What subject matter or skill are you really passionate about? Eventually, you may want to build your freelancing towards that passion subject and turn it into a focused career.
For example, you could be a writer, a graphic design artist, a programmer, a book keeper, an interior design and more. Writing is probably the most popular choice for people looking to start their freelancing careers.
Unless you’re a jack of all trades, you might find more fulfillment taking on assignments revolving around your passion, and that’s something worth working towards once you’ve gotten into the freelancing groove.
Aside from feeling good about yourself, you may also be able to reel in bigger bucks with being an expert in your field or specialty. Your wallet will thank you for this too.
4. Do Not Procrastinate, Be Better Than On-Time
Whether you just have one job with an upcoming deadline, or three, you should never procrastinate. For the same reason as to why you’d want to keep an emergency stash of funds, it’s all about being prepared for a sudden change of events.
What if something were to happen the day before a deadline? When you receive a job, it’s advisable to take on the assignment as soon as possible.
Not only does it feel good to look at it and realize how much you’ve gotten done but finishing your work before a deadline can also make a good impression on your client. It also affords you more time to then look for more work to add to your calendar.
A bit of extra motivation: If you have a job assignment that you really don’t like, it always helps to get it done and out of the way sooner than later. Then you won’t have to look at it anymore.
5. Be One with Your Calendar and Organizer Notebook
Understandably, people forget things from time to time. What you don’t want to forget is when you have a client assignment due. Your calendar and organizer book will become invaluable tools in your freelancing career.
Here are some tips on how to use your calendar and organizer book to make sure you keep everything in order:
- Your calendar is for marking Days Due. Keep it simple so that you can access your due dates at a glance. And be sure to put your calendar somewhere that you can find it easily, like your kitchen counter where you prepare breakfast before starting another day of freelancing.
- Your organizer notebook is your keeper of details. Make sure your organizer has tabs for keeping dates too, but here you will be storing the details for your jobs. These details can include instructions, due day and time, special requests, what payment you’re expecting, and so much more.
- And if you’re still having trouble keeping track of your freelancing: you can never go wrong with multi-colored sticky notes. They can be your best friend in tracking anything on the go.
6. Be Thrifty
This ties in a little with the money cushion. But it is important to be as economical as possible. Especially during the periods of uncertainty when good jobs seem to be hard to find.
Whether it’s using coupons at the grocery store, buying clothes only on sale, or just choosing a cheaper brand of paper towels labeled “Paper Towels”, you will need to respect your finances a lot more than you ever did.
That doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself from time to time. Treats will likely be sparser, however, until your freelancing really picks up.
If you’re looking for some nifty ways to save, you can find coupons on sites or apps like these:
7. Communication is the Key to Everything
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you receive an assignment from a client, and you find any of the instructions unclear, asking questions is the only way you’re going to make sure you don’t make a mistake.
If you don’t speak up, you’re only putting yourself at risk of misunderstanding something and botching an assignment.
Communicating with fellow freelancers is also a good practice. You’ll never know when you can learn a new trick or two unless you start talking with your professional peers.
8. Networking Makes It Work
Reaching out through networking is an amazing way to find new clients as well as professional peers that can exchange advice with you. Look for forums, engage in social media (such as LinkedIn).
But when you’re engaged in your networking efforts, always remember to present yourself professionally.
Some other places that you can use to network are in Facebook groups, Subreddits on Reddit (there are a lot of them relating to all kinds of professions), and Twitter.
While LinkedIn is usually the one referred to when it comes to professional social media, these other platforms are other viable means of finding both clients and like-minded professionals.
Consider each platform, for each one is a potential resource for more income and connections.
9. Be a Professional
This sounds obvious, but it can’t be stressed enough. There are some things you need to remember to do to help ensure that your clients know that they can trust in your brand.
No client or customer wants to deal with a freelancer that causes great inconvenience or is unpleasant.
In connection with the importance of communication, make sure that you answer your client’s messages promptly.
Don’t leave them waiting for more than 24 hours, and if possible, respond to them as soon as you can. And if you think that you’re going to be late on delivering an assignment, it’s imperative to let the client know as soon as possible.
Your clients will appreciate being kept in the know. The longer a client has to wait on a response or to learn of something important, the greater chance of your client getting stressed and anxious about entrusting you with their assignments.
Do you write a lot of email correspondences? Considering adding a professional signature at the end of your emails.
A good thing to remember when communicating and networking as a freelancer is that you are presenting yourself as much as your brand. What you do, what you say, it is all a reflection of your business as a freelancer.
Leaving a good impression on both clients and peers alike will help keep you in their thoughts when a job needs doing or a fellow freelancer learns of something.
Things to avoid while networking is a variety of unprofessional behaviors. These can range from complaining about others on your LinkedIn social media, arguing with fellow freelancers on any platform, or even fighting with clients. Always try to be on your best behavior.
10. Start a Blog
It always helps to have a blog or portfolio to show off your credibility as a freelancer, whether it’s for writing or another field.
There are plenty of platforms out there, but if you’re just starting out in freelancing, there are affordable options, including free ones such as WordPress.
In order to get a blog up and running, you’ll need a host and a domain name to get the site up. We suggest Bluehost – with our link you get a year’s membership for under $50 with a free domain your first year.
With a blog, you can showcase your work, but also, you can craft blog posts giving professional advice and insights into your field. You can also engage your readers with more interactive posts and use imaginative WordPress themes to draw your audience.
The possibilities are near endless with what you can do with a blogging platform. But for a freelancer, it is an indispensable tool to impress clients and fellow freelancers alike.
And did you know you can make a bit of money off your blog?
Once you’ve got your blog going, and a number of posts in, you may want to start getting it out there for traffic to increase. The more people looking at your blog, the better chance you’ll have to getting inquiries into your service as a freelancer.
And this is all while you’re actively using your blog as a way to show off your credibility to clients.
Some ways to get your blog out there are to promote it on social media, whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, or a Facebook page.
You can even find Subreddits on Reddit where you can promote your freelancing. Be careful not to spam your blog link too frequently, however, for that can get you blocked.
When promoting your blog, it’s good to mix it in with interacting with your audience and other professionals, offering advice, and showing that you’re a knowledgeable professional before they even see your blog.
That way, once they see your blog, it acts to help seal the deal more than just the reel-in.
11. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Testimonials
When doing jobs for clients, don’t be afraid to ask them to vouch for your good hard work.
Not all clients will be bothered to give you a review, but when you do manage to get a positive written review from a client, that becomes a badge of accomplishment that you can post on that new blog or portfolio site you started.
The more testimonials you get, the more confidence your future clients will have in your capabilities and services.
12. Be a Voracious Reader
Whether you’re freelancing as a writer, or freelancing as anything else, reading is absolutely invaluable. The more you read, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the more you can provide as a valuable service.
Find books and other reading materials that you think will assist you in your craft or profession. This is especially true for writers because there are many ways that content can be written.
Depending on the kind of writing you’re going for, reading can help you learn more about the kind of voice your clients may be searching for.
Are you aiming to be more of an article writer or a fiction ghostwriter? Are you looking for what’s new in how to install windows or in programming languages? Reading can help you with all of these.
While this isn’t exactly reading, podcasts are also another valuable resource for freelancers to learn new things as well as to gain more insight into their chosen specialty. Never stop your quest for knowledge and you’ll always have an edge.
13. Be Your Own Editor, A Good Editor
There’s being an amazing writer, and then there’s being an amazing editor. If you’re going into freelancing as a writer, you’re going to want to learn to be both.
In both the practice of writing and reading, you will slowly develop this skill. But it’s important to actively teach yourself as well because the benefits are exponential.
But they are there to help polish things up, for the most part, not rewrite your content in its entirety. If you can turn in content that’s both powerful and clean—you can bet those editors will be happy, and chances are your client contact will be glad as well.
Being an effective self-editor will increase your credibility as a content writer and will also increase the likelihood of client retention.
Here are some helpful tips on how to clean up your copy before you send it to your client:
- Go through your content and search for typos, spelling errors, and grammar issues.
- Double-check any hyperlinks you may have put into your content. Do the links all work?
- Double-check your facts and the sources they came from. Make sure your sources are authorities on the material.
- Read through your content and check for how the words and sentences flow. Does anything sound like it stumbles over itself? The best way to check this is to read your content aloud.
- Do your ideas all make sense in the order they are in? Maybe something in one paragraph belongs with information in another.
With enough practice, you’ll get a hang of editing your work like it’s second-nature. Keep these tips in mind, make them into a checklist, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a self-editor.
14. Avoid Jobs That Don’t Fit Your Skillset
Initially, you might want to throw yourself at any of the jobs you find out there. Understandably, you might find yourself feeling desperate at times. But you’ll want to make sure that whatever job you do, you do your best at.
It’s important that you find jobs that fit you as much as they pay you. Trying to take on a job that you’re not prepared for can result in issues:
- You may find yourself spending way too much time researching on a topic.
- The job might conflict with your personal values or professional integrity.
- You have almost no motivation to even get the job going, and you feel miserable working on it at all.
Your mental and emotional health are just as important as your physical health. Be sure to not take on any jobs that may cause a negative imbalance to your health. You can’t do a good job if you’re not well.
15. Consult Your Brain and Your Gut
While assessing the jobs you find on a job board or a freelance site, it’s good to assess the job from all angles before making a decision. That means thinking of the logical pros and cons of the job, but also consulting what your gut or your feelings are telling you.
You might find a job that pays well, but if you notice that the client has its fair share of ill-reviews, such as reneging on their agreed payment to freelancers, your gut might tell you to avoid it.
This is one case where your gut might be telling you the right thing, and perhaps you should be looking at other clients.
It’s important to do your research into jobs and clients whenever possible. It hurts to work hard at a job and to find yourself at the finish line feeling sad because your client decided to not pay for your service. To avoid these heartbreaks, assess with your brain, but also listen to your gut.
16. Good Self-Care Leads to Good Freelancing
It is important to save money and balance a budget while you are freelancing, especially when you’re beginning as a freelancer. But you should also learn when it’s time to take care of yourself. It’s not about just going to the doctor—it’s about really enjoying life while you work.
The advantage about freelancing is that you may have a chance to work from home, especially for freelancers who are writing and doing other computer-based jobs. But that also means you may be able to work from anywhere else.
Allow yourself to work outside of home, like at your favorite café or park. A change of scenery can help both your psychological and emotional health, which in turn gives you that extra boost to get work done.
If you need a short nap between assignments, take one. Or lay back and read a book for a half-hour. There are many ways to relax and recharge without having to spend a dime.
And when you know you’ve saved enough “spare cash” from all that good budgeting, don’t forget to treat yourself to something.
While these aren’t all the things you will have to manage and deal with on your freelancing journey, hopefully these tips will give you at least a head-start.
Freelancing is no way to get-rich-quick, but with persistence, patience, hard work, and a drive to excel at your chosen field, you can go from a beginning freelancer to a freelancer with a fulfilling, and lucrative, career. Best of luck out there and go get those jobs.