Want to become a freelancer? Well, you’re in a space made by freelancers for freelancers like you.
18 minutes read time
Freelancing is an attractive option -especially when you consider that one time, we were all quarantined for an undetermined number of weeks. Hustling from home in your jammies, making your schedule, and deciding your monetary value… sounds like an ad for the perfect working conditions, doesn’t it?
When you freelance, you do what you want, when you want – within certain limitations, of course. Let’s be real, as with all things in life, the #freelancelife is not as glamorous and glitzy up close as it is on Instagram, but for the RIGHT kind of human -it’s even better.
If you’re here, chances are you’re ready to sub the suit and stilettos for something more…comfortable, but first, you need to know what’s involved…and it needs to come from someone who has been there and done that. I got ya.
Do I have what it takes to become a freelancer?
Can I be a freelancer with no experience?
What qualifies me as a freelancer?
How do I find clients?
Read on my entrepreneuring friend and find out. Say hello, to my little friend, The Badasses Guide On How To Become A Freelancer.
WHAT IS A FREELANCER
Ex: Remember that time you taught yourself how to design websites?
Then, cousin Jo-Jo found out, and she needed you to make her one too. That was you -freelancing. And possibly Jo-Jo mooching.
A freelancer is a person with a specific skill, who offers that skill as a service to others in exchange for money. It’s kind of like being a talent hooker except you’re the pimp in this scenario. The alternative is to work for someone else…then you’re just a talent hooker with a pimp.
Kidding aside, having the know-how to do something someone else needs is only the tip of the iceberg. After all, this is business. There are some rules….
Qualifications To Be A Freelancer
What makes someone a freelancer? Are there rules? If you’re wondering if you have the necessary education and experience to dub yourself as a one of the few, the proud, the jammie-wearing homebodies who toss a blazer on for a video conference
…Welcome to ‘The Badasses Guide On How To Become A Freelancer. ‘
This is one area even artists need to stay within the lines. Each state has specific legal parameters around what classifies someone as an independent contractor. Check out the secretary of state’s website for your state’s interpretation. Meanwhile, here are a few general guidelines to get you started.
- Control the direction and details of the work they’re performing
- Do not have employers. They have clients and customers.
- Have an independently established trade / service
- Price their services
- Do not sell a physical product
The question of the hour, ‘How much experience do I need to be a freelancer?’ Technically, you could waltz out of your 9 to 5, hop on the internet, and proudly announce your decision to become your own boss. #truestatement
Firstly, you should know that there are no legal benchmarks that say you must have a specific amount of experience or education to qualify as an independent contractor.
What qualifies art as art? A degree? Years in the trenches studying art history and thousands of canvases later? How about a designer?
If you’re just starting and the only thing you have to validate your ability is knowing in your gut that you’re a talented [fill in the blank] –that’s ok!
In the freelancing world, you should never be afraid to own where you’re at in your journey. There is always, and I mean always someone searching for your skills at your level.
How to Get Started as a Freelancer
Finally, it’s time to get started, but how that happens depends on you and the type of business you envision.
But First, Business
Getting your business in order should be the first to-do. Trust me, you want to do this right from day one.
The One Wo / Man Show
Are you a one-person show? Then, you’re already a business without filing a single paper or standing in-line, you genius, you.
In the eyes of the law, the moment someone gave you a single dollar in exchange for your services, you became a sole proprietorship.
Kudos for your work smarter, not harder ethic, by the way.
The whole insta-sole proprietorship deal only applies to individuals who use their name as the business name.
For example, say your name is Nemo Meemo, and you want your business name to be ‘Frying Nemo.’ Now, you’ve stepped into the paper pile. Awesome or even crappy business names require paperwork.
Your local courthouse or secretary of state’s website will have the paperwork you need to file a fictitious name statement or D.B.A. ( doing business as ). If this is you, don’t worry, as far as bureaucracy goes, it’s a reasonably cheap (~$25) and painless process.
Hold up! Before you run off to hire a designer, I have a public service announcement.
Your brand is not your logo.
I Repeat, Your Brand Is Not Your Damn Logo.
Your logo is your logo!
Branding is all the things that make your business –your business..
It’s the particular pairing of personality sprinkled throughout your company (Brand Voice, Values, Tones, etc.), the visual identifiers (logos, colors, fonts, etc), and your soul (Brand Story, Founding Story, USPs, etc. ) combined.
And, it’s how you stand out to a client from a stack of proposals. While everyone else is going on about their glorious academic feats and self-impressed list of professional experiences, you’ll be busy speaking directly to the client.
Building Your Personal Brand
Make no mistake. If you’re a freelancer, you’re already a Brand in the minds of prospective clients. The question is – what’s your brand saying?
Consider branding your business’s plan for how to do anything in your organization. And I mean anything. From how you respond to emails and write proposals to the fonts you use. Be sure to show up with pizazz.
Set aside time to ask yourself the questions that your clients will want to know, but may never ask. Click the graphic link above to learn how to do it -and do it right!
When working remotely, prospective clients only know what they can Google about you, what you say, and what you show them.
This is the internet – freelance catfishing happens.
Before going all in, people want assurances that you’re the real deal and a good fit for their project.
That’s where a portfolio comes in handy.
Use your portfolio to highlight your latest and greatest projects. Showcase what a site’s copy looked like before you stepped in -and after, allowing client’s to visualize your skills working for them.
Beginners – Words to the Wise
A website portfolio is standard, but it isn’t a must.
Consider sending samples by sharing hyperlinks to a former client’s site where your work is featured, share Dropbox files, or attach documents in an email. Make it simple for them to access your mad skills. The less clicks it takes for them to do that – the better the results.
We all start somewhere. In a year from now, no one will care how you started, just that you did. If you’re new to the freelancing game, and not a decent scrap of paper exists to prove your value, you have options.
How To Get Freelance Work
In the early days, this part popped my whole ‘freelancing is a party in my jammies bubble. You see, to start freelancing full-time – you have to have clients.
Saying that sounds as easy as opening your browser to sites lined with client after client who have been waiting just for you!
There are a plethora of clients, but getting them to knock on your door day-in and out takes some door knocking on your end first. I’m willing to bet there are as many ways to find clients as there are clients who want to be found. Where you start looking depends on you… again. See, isn’t being your own boss full of fun!
Where can I find clients?
What do I do once I’ve found them?
How do I get their attention without seeming desperate?
Read On Padawan!
Finding Clients & Jobs
Go where your clients go! The truth is you already know where to find your clients. Put yourself in your ideal client’s shoes – and ask yourself, “if I were my client, where would I go to look for some quality help?”
Then, go there!
Here’s a few places to begin searching for your ideal client avatar.
My clients are local. They want to see me in the flesh! Go >>>
- Use Your Existing Contacts
- Check With Your City’s Job Boards & Workforce Commission
- Expand Your Network -go to local events and conferences where your clients go
- Search LinkedIn
- Find Local Organizations / Associations For Your Profession or Freelancing (like freelancer’s union)
- Check With Your Local Alumni Chapter
My clients just want the job done -and done well. You Go >>>
From profession-specific job boards to freelance platform havens like UpWork, no matter where your clients are, you have unlimited resources and ways to access them.
Eventually, you’ll encounter a project that screams your name. First impressions are important. In the freelancer world, that comes in the form of your proposal.
Every profession, platform, and project are night and day different.
Every. Single. One.
There are no one-size-fits-all proposal templates -so, if you copy and paste a proposal, I will personally kick you.
I sincerely mean that.
It can be tempting, but it’s up to you to do your due diligence to gain the spotlight. I will give you some tips, though.
5 Tips To Nail Your Freelancing Proposal
Don’t just read their project description, digest it like it’s a flaky croissant. If they happen to drop a company name or website, it’s up to you to venture out into the world wide web and score whatever information may give you an edge.
Remember – even if Warren Buffet is on the other side of that screen… you are speaking to a human. Start by saying ‘hi’ in your endearing way. OH – and please, puuullleaassse, if they named dropped… use their damn name.
A proposal is not a resume. I’m going to say that again. A proposal is not a resume.
A proposal is not a resume. Depending on your profession and customer avatar, the client may want to know some of your achievements, but keep it light.
Think of this initial proposal as more of a cover letter. Getting a client to notice you is half the battle. Standing out means talking about the client and their project more than yourself.
There is always someone who will look better than you on paper. That doesn’t mean they are. You started as a freelancer in this niche, because you knew that you had something special.
Am I right? Right! So, why try to be a paperweight? Our achievements should take a backseat to the client and their project. That’s why there are resumes. If they want one -they’ll ask.
Be brief. How brief? That all depends on the client, field, and project description.
If your gut instinct tells you that this client wants to read The Neverending Story -Go For It, but in my experience, most don’t.
I did a word count on my last ten winning proposals.
The average word count was 184 – 246 words, including my hello and sign off. These numbers mean diddly, if the client asks you for specific items. Use your head and gut in deciding how to approach the proposal and then write from the heart.
BE HONEST! If a client asks you how long something will take, but gives little to no details ask questions before answering.
If they have unrealistic expectations – don’t apply or talk to them.
Here’s the thing, the process should be enjoyable. Don’t promise to complete a project in a week that takes a month. Produce work you’re proud of EVERY TIME or not at all. Have realistic expectations for yourself and be brave enough to say it. People appreciate confidence and honesty most of all.
“Don’t be #authentic just to get the job… be real and get a career. ”
As in life, once you’ve found the one, what’s the first thing you go home and do?!
You check that profile!
Don’t even. We all do it.
Apply that concept to clients. If your proposal was a hit, they’re going to want to find out more about you. This is an unspoken opportunity to seal the deal.
The platform or medium you’re using, profession, and client avatar determine how you should position your profile. Although, there are some general guidelines that apply no matter where you post.
- Use an updated, high-quality picture of yourself. Should you go for the stoic professional look? Meh- what would your client avatar say to that?
- Customer stories, reviews, & testimonials are a great way to tell anyone stopping by your profile that clients are not only walking through your doors, but they’re happy about it.
- Your profile is not a memoir. This part is obviously about you, but really it’s always about them. Leverage what you know about your client avatar and your USPs.
- Connect all social accounts, profiles, portfolios, website, contact information, resume, etc. If they’re interested in working with you, they will want to know about you.
By giving them access to all of your public business information in one space, you are already adding value to their experience, simplifying the process, and guiding them down the conversion path.
- Last, but not least, be hyper-specific. Good work ethic and determination are overplayed tunes.
The last thing anyone wants is another dynamic human when the other ten profiles were dynamic too. List skills and descriptors that are niche to you and the people you want to work with.
We Are The Future Of Freelancing
Friends, let me tell you something. If you want to be a freelancer, this is your shining moment.
We, the freelancers, are taking the world by storm. Until now, the world has been run by an economic system which espouses the glories of the employer-employee relationship.
While there are laws in the U.S. applying directly to independent contract labor, the system as a whole is not ready for this next wave.
Fact : today’s children WILL change the workforce as we know it.
RIGHT NOW, You have the opportunity to get ahead of the curb.
You Can Do THIS. And if you’re still worried that you can’t, reach out and schedule a consultation with me personally. We’ll talk it over and get you from where you are now, to where you want to be.
PSSTTT… if you know of more places where you can make bang using your brain, share the details in the comments, below, and help your fellow freelancers. Until Next Week, badasses.