Freelancing. It’s a bit of an elusive word really, isn’t it? I know before I started freelancing I had no idea what it involved, how the heck people made money from it, or how it would ever be a viable option as a career.
These are the things you learn along the way, but it can be daunting going into it when you have no idea how to start freelancing in the first place.
I get a LOT of emails from you guys out there who want to know how to start freelancing. The thing is, it’s a different story for everyone. It’s such a fluid career that literally anyone, anytime, any place, can make it via different routes.
For me? It all started with blogging (well, that and my love of writing from an early age). Through blogging I created a network in the travel industry and got to know what kind of content works for certain audiences.
I learnt a helluva lot before I even thought about how to start freelancing. I knew all about SEO, I knew all about blog formats and what formula makes shareworthy content. I knew all about brands that were working with bloggers and writers.
Basically, I had everything I needed in place. I just needed to tap into that knowledge and my network to start actually making money.
For others, they’ve had little experience in the writing world beforehand, but they have a specialised knowledge in a subject through years of working in that industry or a long-time hobby. Being an expert in a subject is great for freelancing, as it means you can delve straight into the good stuff without having to hone your niche.
For others still, it was a case of having nowhere else to go. Maybe they lost their job, or struggled to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives, and ended up freelancing as a way to make a bit of extra cash while they figured things out.
Everyone’s story is different and we all learn different lessons along the way. That’s the beauty of it, really. It means we all have something unique to bring to the table; unique ideas, unique stories, unique plans for the future.
It’s an exciting time to strike out on your own. But really you want to know how to start freelancing, don’t you?
You want the nitty gritty right now so you can start making your own tracks tomorrow if you need/want to.
And I completely understand that impatience. Heck, I was in that position for years before I finally plucked up the courage to go freelance.
I’m Starting a “How to Start Freelancing” Series!
It’ll cover a few key questions I regularly get asked:
– Things to know before you start freelancing
Yeah, there are lessons galore to be learnt and the only bad thing is you don’t really start realising them until you’re well and truly in the deep end.
For this part of the series I’ve collected a whole load of lessons some awesome freelancers have learnt or things they wish they knew before they started freelancing (read on to get to the juicy stuff!).
– How to land your first client
The hardest part about freelancing is landing your first client. They’re like some kind of holy grail that you’re pretty sure you’ll never get your hands on, right?
Landing your first client doesn’t have to be an uphill struggle. And, once you’ve managed to get that much-coveted first contract things get SO much easier.
– How to manage your time freelancing with a full-time job
I’m absolutely not going to tell you to quit your job and wing it. I think it’s really important to set up a stable foundation before you cut all ties with the employment world because, well, you’re just going to set yourself up for disaster.
In this part of the series we’ll talk time management and how to squeeze in a few more hours to every day (hint: it’s not via magic, though I wish it was).
– How to keep it up
Landing your first client is great, but what happens then? Well, you gotta keep at it. Seriously, it’s a long ol’ slog, but if you want to make freelancing your career you have to constantly be putting yourself out there.
In this post, we’ll discuss how you can multiply your clients (and your monthly income) and ways you can make sure you lay the foundations for a stable career.
Yeah, me too! It’s not often I re-live the initial moments of my freelancing career, but I’m really excited to share them with you and show you how to start freelancing along the way.
How to Start Freelancing: Part 1
116 Things to Know Before You Begin
Yep, you read that right. 116. I’m pretty sure I’ve learnt hundreds more things than that over the past year but I don’t think I could pick them out from the mushed tangle that is my brain right now.
Instead, I’ll share a few lessons I’ve learnt and then link up to some AWESOME posts from some AWESOME freelancers to share the lessons they learnt with you.
Because way more minds is better than one, right? Right.
Before we begin, I just want to let you know about an e-course that’s currently in the making. A lot of you want to know how to get started as a freelancer and, as you know, I managed to go from employee to successful freelancer in 1 month (yes, just 30 days – well, around 20 if you don’t count weekends!).
The e-course will be packed full of tasks, workbooks, and videos that will help you kickstart your freelance business in 1 month. Interested? Enter you email and name below for first dibs when it’s live!
So, here are the things I wish I knew before I began freelancing.
#1 It’s like trying to run through toffee sometimes
Remember when I said you have to keep on putting yourself out there long after you’ve landed your first client? Yeah, this.
You might think that once you’ve got a few retainer clients on your plate you can kick back and enjoy the ride, but what happens if one of them drops off the radar? Doesn’t pay you? You constantly have to be marketing yourself and networking with potential clients.
It’s literally never-ending. I’ve fallen foul of getting overly comfortable and then all of a sudden have my top client drop me like a hot potato. Ouch. Then I’m left scrabbling round trying to find someone, anyone, to fill the gap.
#2 The highs make the lows worth it
When you’re experiencing a low point it can often feel like giving up is the best option. That you can crawl back to your employer with your tail between your legs.
I’ve been through too many lows to count in the past year (yeah, it’s definitely been an up and down ride), but when I hit those high notes I remember why I started freelancing in the first place. The freedom, the choice of who I work with, playing to my own schedule. It’s all worth it in the end.
#3 You need a backbone
I’m a serious people pleaser, which makes standing my ground when it comes to payment or contracts really difficult. My inner voice is shouting “just let them have it for free – LOVE ME!”.
But if you want to present yourself with any kind of professionalism and poise you have to have a decent backbone. Not in an aggressive way, just in a way that makes it clear you know your own value and worth.
Okay, those are my top three points. Yeah, I realise that they’re not all bright and rosey, but that’s reality, ey.
I think a lot of people online pose freelancing as this awesome place filled with butterflies and pretty flowers, but you need to go in prepared. That means knowing the good and the bad points. Setting yourself up with a strategy for overcoming the low points is one of the best things you can do.
Phew, now we’ve got that pep talk over, I’m going to pass you over to some other awesome freelancers who are going to share the lessons they’ve learnt along the way and teach you how to start freelancing through them.
- 6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Freelance Business by Trent Nelson
- 21 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went Freelance by Joey Dehnert
- 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Going Freelance on The Collative
- 9 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Freelancing in Panama on Permanently Panama
- 5 Things to Know Before Quitting Your Job to Freelance on The M Dash
- What I Wish I Knew When I Started My Freelance Business on Careful Cents
- Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Freelance Biz by Katharine Writes
- I Wish I Would Have Known: Answers From 11 Top Freelancers on Guerrilla Freelancing
- 5 Things You Should Know Before Launching a New Freelance Career by Gina Horkey
- 4 Things I Learned the Hard Way While Freelancing on Ged’s Blog
- What I Wish I’d Known Three Years Ago About Becoming a Freelance Designer by James Greig
- 12 Secrets You Must Know About Freelancing on Jan Koch
- The Advice I Wish I’d Had as a New Freelance Writer by Carol Tice
- 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started a Small Business by Carly Writes
- 8 Secrets I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Freelancing by Otis Maxwell
- 3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Freelance Writing by Alexandria Ingham
Did you make it to the end?! I hope you did as these posts are filled with great advice from people who are out there being awesome RIGHT NOW and who can teach you how to start freelancing in the best way possible!
Your turn! What valuable lessons have you learnt since you started freelancing? What questions do you have about how to start freelancing? Let me know in the comments below!