How to Become a Freelancer with NO Experience
If there is one thing I hope you take away from this site, it is how to become a freelancer and how to freelance successfully. Freelancing is something I have been passionate about ever since I found out it was even a thing (yes, I grew up sheltered, shut up). The thing that most people don’t realize is that nearly ANYBODY has what it takes to become a successful freelancer. As long as you already have skills that are in demand, this can be a great career choice for some. Still, freelancing isn’t for everyone.
In this post, we will look into what it takes to become a freelancer with no experience and still become successful in the process.
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How to Become a Freelancer with NO Experience: In-Depth Discussion
What is a Freelancer and why should you try to become one?
A freelancer, in simple terms, is a person who utilizes their skills in a certain area to offer services to a variety of clients in exchange for a fee. A freelancer is typically self-employed, though they can be employed by a company directly as an independent contractor.
Why become a freelancer though?
The answer is simple: freelancing gives you the opportunity to work for yourself, set your own hours and literally become your own boss. It allows you to set your own pay rate for the services you offer, which can be a great way to supplement your income or replace it completely if you are paid enough.
The Good Stuff and the Not So Good Stuff of Freelancing
Freelancing is a career path that has its own ups and downs, for sure. However, in my opinion, freelancing tends to have more positives than negatives going for it.
The Good Stuff
- A great way to supplement your existing income
- Flexible hours created by you
- Opportunity to work from home
- Affordable to start
- Can be your own boss…literally
- Easily can turn into a private business
The Not So Good Stuff
- It can take time to make it into a full-time stable income
- Work and pay may not always be consistent
- Must manage multiple clients simultaneously
- May need to take on lower-paid projects to get the experience clients are looking for
What skills companies are looking for in a Freelancer?
There are so many in-demand skills companies are already looking for. Who knows. You may already possess them!
Some of the most common skills most companies are looking for include:
- Digital marketing
- Content writing
- PPC campaign and set up
- Administrative work
- Graphic design
- Website design and development
- Database creation
- Order management
- Create spreadsheets using Microsoft office suite
- And so much more!
What do you need in order to start freelancing?
Not really much is needed to start freelancing. While it may take some initial set up on your part, having these things in place will help you to stand out above your competition.
- A professional work email address
- A good working computer
- A stable internet connection
- Previous samples of your work
- Friendly and professional attitude
- The ability to start work without direction
How to Become a Freelancer Step-by-Step
Step One: Do your research first!
One of the most important steps you can make to becoming a freelancer is doing the proper research on the industry beforehand to make sure it is an industry you want to get yourself involved in.
As much as I can tell you about my own freelancing experience, your own experience may be different. This is why you shouldn’t take what I say alone of the subject to heart. It is important to trust your own gut instinct on how you want to tackle a freelancing career and how to make it work best for you.
I recommended checking out some of the books I have listed below. I have read through them myself and they give some good insight into the industry as well as an in-depth look at what it takes to become a successful freelancer.
The Freelance Way: Best Business Practices, Tools & Strategies for Freelancers by Robert Vlach
This is a must-have guide to see exactly the tools and practices every new freelancer should have in order to be successful.
The Million Dollar Freelancer: Work from Home, Set Your Own Hours and Become Rich by Daniel Hall
This comprehensive freelancing guide is perfect for new or established freelancers who want to leverage their freelancing business for higher returns.
The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams by Sara Horowitz
This is a must-have for every freelancer. It goes into detail everything you need to know about freelancing from the proper way to file taxes to teaching you how to get health care coverage as a self-employed freelancer.
Step Two: Build your personal brand
Now, when I mention this, I don’t mean that you need to come up with a creative title or a creative company name. What I mean is coming up with a brand that represents yourself. Remember, you are selling yourself. Your brand is going to reflect the kind of services you are offering, your expertise in delivering these services and showing potential employers why they should hire you in the first place.
When building your brand, this is also where you will need to figure out what your charging rate is going to be and what that rate covers. This will give potential clients the chance to determine the salary they wish to pay you for services as well as give them a firsthand look if your services are worth the price you are listing.
Step Three: Create a work routine for yourself
Even though you are working from home, you will need to remember that you are, well, working. Be professional about it! Make sure to make a work schedule for yourself during that week that you stick to religiously. Also, since you are working during this time, as tempting as it may be, try not to do work in your pajamas. Becoming relaxed in your work environment may cause you to become too lax with your work as well.
Make sure to keep to your deadlines or the expectations set by the client and always keep a professional demeanor, even if you don’t talk to your client every day.
How to Find Freelance Work
Now that you understand what kind of tools you need in order to become a successful freelancer and understand some of the steps you should take to become a freelancer, it is time to dive into how to find potential freelance work.
Luckily for you, you are alive during one of the best times on the Internet. Freelance work is in abundance online, you just have to know where to look first. Some of the best place to find work include:
Job Posting Sites
You would be surprised by how many companies are now turning to remote workers over traditional workers. Remote workers typically are more reliable and more versatile than their office counterparts, without the need to come into the office. Because of this demand, more and more companies are beginning to post potential job opportunities online for remote work.
Some of the best sites to find remote work include:
However, be wary of these sites as well. While there are plenty of legitimate remote job postings on these sites, don’t be surprised if you come across a scam or two.
Perhaps, the most common way to find remote work online is through freelancing websites. Freelancing websites often work as the middleman between freelancers and hiring companies, connecting the two in a safe space. The thing to keep in mind here is that as the middleman, some of the sites will take a cut of your earnings, usually no more than 4% to 8% of it.
Some of the best and most trusted freelancing websites include:
Your Personal Connections
One of the most important tools in your freelancing arsenal is the connections you currently have. You’ll always be on the lookout for your next job, so sometimes you may have to depend on the connections you have built with friends, former colleagues or past clients. These connections are especially important when you are first starting out.
The best way to utilize these connections is to reach out in the field you are targeting to people you know that may know people in need of your services. Create a cover letter, pitching yourself and your skills to potential clients and share that letter with your connections.
Let’s Talk Taxes
Yes, taxes are important, even if you are a freelancer.
You will have to fill out yearly taxes like everyone else, but there is a slight catch. You only have to file taxes if you have earned over $600 for the year online.
Filling out taxes as a freelancer will have to be filled out as if you owned your own business or you can fill out a self-employment tax form. Either use your business name and business tax ID number OR use your own name and social security number. I also HIGHLY recommend setting aside no less than 30% of your earnings every time you are paid for taxes. This will ensure you have more than enough to pay them while still having a few bucks left over.
Some Advice from an Experience Freelancer
As somebody who has been successfully freelancing for over 6 years, let’s chat for a second. I want to take the time to share some advice with you that I have learned during my own time freelancing. Hopefully what I share, will help you land more clients while staying safe in the online space as well.
1. Have a standard agreement filled out with every client you do work for
This is one piece of advice I cannot stress enough: always, ALWAYS have an agreement signed by you and the client before you start work. This agreement will cover both you and your client as well as have a clear layout of what the expectations of both parties are.
This agreement should cover the payment terms, an NDA or nondisclosure if applicable, the timeframe to have the project completed, milestones that need to be met and this agreement MUST be signed by both you and the client.
2. Showcase your past work
Do you want to land more clients? Want to show potential clients what you are capable of? Then make sure to build up a portfolio as you finish work with clients. In this portfolio make sure to include work that is relevant to the niche you are targeting or the area of expertise you are specialized in.
3. Treat freelancing like a business
If you want to be a successful freelancer, then you need to treat your freelancing as a business. Keep track of every dollar you have been paid, every dollar you have spent for business expenses, keep track of what your average hiring rate is and when your biggest downtimes during the year are. Also, be sure to put aside about 30% of your earnings away to pay off taxes at the end of the year and don’t hesitate to take some of that money to reinvest in your business to gain even bigger returns.
How to Become a Freelancer with NO Experience: The Bottomline
Learning how to become a freelancer isn’t the hard part. The hard part is becoming a successful freelancer. Freelancing isn’t for everyone. It is a career that you REALLY have to want, and it is one you will have to work extremely hard for. However, with the freedom and lifestyle you get from it, it really is unrivaled by any other job you could have!