If there is one thing I am asked repeatedly, it is how to make money online as a freelancer. It is no secret on this site that I have been freelancing for nearly 7 years now. I have made all of the mistakes most new freelancers make, lost a bunch of clients, and have messed up on a few projects during that time. However, despite my downfalls, I was able to turn a passion into a creative full-time career that I loved.
The thing is, how I managed to do this isn’t unique. I started with absolutely no skills except for a passion for writing. If I was able to turn it into a lucrative career, there is no reason you can’t do the same. That is why I went ahead and wrote this post. I want to show you how you can make money online as a freelancer and utilize the skills you already have to earn a bit of extra cash on the Internet.
*Disclaimer: This website contains affiliate links and I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Affiliate when you click on the links on this post at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclaimer here*
A Little Background Info
If you are new to this website, my name is Vanessa and I have been a freelance writer ever since July 2013 after giving birth to my son. I freelanced on the side to earn cash for formulas and diapers, taking on low-paying jobs to gain experience. Today, I am able to earn well over $5,000 a month freelancing alone, writing things such as website content, eBooks, press releases, business proposals, legal documents, etc. While I’m not freelance writing, I work on a variety of blog sites that I own (such as PetFoodio.com and writAcademy.com), creating content in niches I love.
Now, that we have got that out of the way, let’s dive into all things freelancing!
What is Freelancing?
Freelancing is nothing more than performing a job or service for an agreed-upon price between the client and the freelancer. This price can be paid hourly or as a lump sum given upon completion of the entire project. In simple terms, you trade your time and work for money.
That is it.
As a freelancer, you will need a particular set of skills people in the industry are already looking for. This gives you a lot of room for flexibility. Think about it. You may be under the misconception that you don’t have the skills people need. But I highly recommend you take a closer look at your job experience. Maybe you have worked in Excel before? There are clients out there looking for people with experience in Excel! Maybe you don’t have experience writing, but have a passion to learn? There are clients out there who are willing to take the time to teach you to write content for their business! Maybe you have worked as a receptionist or administrative assistant? You can find freelance jobs as a virtual assistant!
Let’s take me as an example. When I first began freelancing, I had begun writing blog content for my own websites. I had taught myself and learned everything there was to learn about keyword research, writing keyword-rich content, and designing graphics for blog posts. When I first began finding clients online, I offered content writing services, specifically with keyword research and content-rich articles. I hadn’t really had industry experience for content, but I continued to freelance and continued building content for my own sites. The more I did this, the larger my freelance portfolio became. The larger my portfolio grew, the more experience I began to gain.
What Type of Freelancer Can You Become?
There are hundreds if not thousands of different areas of specialties freelancers can specialize in. Remember, you want to focus on an area you have some kind of knowledge or experience in, to begin with. Then expand on your experience by taking on freelancing work. Some of the most common areas to specialize in include:
- Freelance Writing
- Design & Art
- Translation Work
- Sales & Marketing
- Business & Finance
- Programming & Development
What You Need to Get Started
Luckily, there are a few things you need in order to start your freelance career. All you really need is:
- A reliable Internet connection
- A reliable computer
- Access to Microsoft office
- Skype, Teams, or Zoom for business meetings
How to Make Money Online as a Freelancer
Now that you know what type of skills you may need in order to become a successful freelancer and what you need in order to start, it is time to get into the bulk of this article. Now it is time to walk you through the process of becoming an online freelancer.
Step One: Figure out your Niche
The first thing you are going to have to figure out is what niche you want to work in. While I know it can be tempting to take on any kind of work that gets thrown your way, you will need to be strategic with the type of work you do. Some niches pay less than others. If you have the necessary skills for a lucrative niche, that is going to be the one you want to focus on.
Being picky about the type of freelance work you do helps you to specialize in a niche. This helps you to become an expert in a specific field. When you specialize, clients are willing to pay more for these services, especially if you can deliver the results they are looking for.
For example, instead of just starting to work as a freelance content marketer, maybe try to specialize in a specific area of marketing. This can include email marketing, content marketing, or PPC marketing. The possibilities are endless.
Step Two: Figure out What Services You Want to Offer
Once you have figured out your niche, the next step is to tailor the services you want to offer around that niche. To be specific, you will need to figure out what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. The more specific you can get, the better. This will help you to create a brand for yourself. It will also allow you to build out your portfolio to reflect the kind of work you want to be known for.
This is important for many reasons, first and foremost it being necessary to becoming the best in your field. While I know it can be tempting to take on short term projects in hopes of easy money, if you want to make more money to the point you can freelance full-time, you will need to specialize in a high paying field and try to land as many jobs in that field as possible.
For example, when I started freelancing online, I knew I wanted to become a full-time freelance writer. Specifically, I wanted to focus on website content and downloadable eBooks. For a while, all I would take on were low-paying article writing or rewriting jobs. For nearly 8 months I was stuck in this field, without the chance to branch off to website content because all of my clients swore I didn’t know how to do it. It wasn’t until I added my own personal written website content and eBooks to my portfolio and changed my services that I began landing jobs in this field. Every job I landed after that paid much higher. Much higher, in fact, I never had to rewrite another article again!
Step Three: Find Freelancing Websites
Once you have figured out what type of services you are going to offer and what niche you want to focus on, the next step is to find freelancing websites to begin working on. Don’t treat every site the same. There are advantages and disadvantages to each site, and you want to work with one that is not only free to sign up for, but that also offers payment in a timely fashion. You also want to find a site that has a great rapport with its freelancers.
Some of the best websites I recommend signing up for (and those I have personally been using for years) include:
- UpWork-this is perhaps one of the best websites to find freelancing work. Originally this site was known as oDesk, before being bought out by another freelancing company known as Elance. This website hosts various freelancers in various industries such as website designers, programmers, writers with varying degrees of experience, graphic designers, artists, attorneys, and even IT professionals. It is completely free to sign up for work on this website and you are given a lot of versatility, allowing you to choose your own payment options such as being paid per project or per hour. Typically, freelancers can be paid as soon as 1 week from completing a project, and payment is usually deposited via Bank Account or Paypal account same day.
- Guru-This website is known for its professionalism and for focusing on technical, creative, or business projects. While this site is free to sign up for, they do have four different memberships users can sign up to get more out of the website. It is the perfect place for people who specialize in programming, translation, or law.
- Freelancer-This freelancing website has been around since 2004 and has grown a large audience during that time. Unlike the other sites, Freelancer outsources freelancers in a whole array of fields. You name it, there are probably jobs available on the site in that industry. It is free to sign up for and freelancers can be paid via PayPal or direct deposit. However, there are many job scams posted on the site daily, so be cautious when using it.
Step Four: Create Your Profile
Once you have found the perfect freelancing website for you, the next step is to create your profile. This is when things can get tricky. Remember, treat your profile creation with an air of professionalism. This is probably going to be one of the first things future clients will look at when they consider hiring you for a job. Make sure to:
- Use your real name
- List out your services clearly so clients know exactly what they will get if they hire you
- List your hourly rate where clients can easily see
- Give out prominent contact information including your phone number, Skype contact, and valid email address
- List out your previous work experience (BE HONEST)
- List out the best times to contact you
- Use a recent picture of you that look professional
- Check and double-check for grammatical and spelling errors
Step Five: Set Up Your Online Portfolio
Once you have your profile created, the next step (and probably the most important on this list) is to create your portfolio. This is the place where you are going to be showing off your skills and experience to potential clients in hopes they will hire you for their next project. When creating your portfolio, don’t just throw up any past project you have worked on. Here, you will want to show off your very best work.
For your portfolio be sure to show off:
- Your latest work
- Work in specific areas you specialize in. This can show the type of work you will offer every service you offer.
- Make sure to give each piece of your portfolio a description to show potential clients exactly what you were tasked to work on and what you did.
- Use cover photos for every section of your portfolio to draw clients in.
While most freelancing websites will offer a section for you to create a portfolio, others may not. You can create your own portfolio online free using Google Drive or your own website. Regardless, if you create an external portfolio online, it should be built the same way.
Step Six: Find Projects to Bid On
Now, we get to the bulk of this article: finding projects to bid on! This is where the real work begins. Now that you have a stellar profile and eye-catching work portfolio, you need to put yourself in front of clients. Most freelancing websites will have a section for you to “Find Jobs.” This is where you want to find jobs based on your industry, area of expertise, or niche category. From here you take a closer look at:
- Some of the available projects you can bid on
- How much money a client has paid to affiliates overall
- How long the job posting has been live on the website
- A short description of the project
- How much the project pays
- Whether the project pays hourly or has a fixed rate
- How many bids or proposals the project has from other freelancers
- The country of origin of the client
Here, you will have to keep your personal preference in mind. Look for projects that fit your needs. Keep realistic expectations. Look for pertinent information such as how long a project will take you based on what the client is looking for and whether you think the price justifies the type of work required. ALWAYS look at the clients hiring history. As a general rule, I always recommend looking for jobs from clients who have a prior project history and reviews from other freelancers. This can prove that clients have already been shown to pay their freelancers on time and reduce the risk of you getting scammed on these sites (yes, this happens).
Step Seven: Write an Eye-Catching Proposal
Once you have found a project or job that appeals to you, next is to create a proposal to help you land the job. Keep in mind, writing the perfect proposal is more of an art form than anything else. The point of a proposal is to show a client why they should pick you, above any other freelancer bidding on their project. It is your chance to show a client why you would be the most ideal choice for their project and to show how your previous experience can help you complete their project.
When writing a proposal, try to include a few things in it:
How much you are willing to complete the project for (many clients will choose a freelancer that fits within the budget they created for the project.
- A time frame in which you plan to have the project completed. While most clients would love work done as quickly as possible, many are willing to extend time if they find the right freelancer.
- Detail EXACTLY how you plan on completing the project. Make sure to touch on points the client has listed in the original project description. This will show the client not only did you read their job listing in full, but you completely understand what is expected.
- Be realistic. Don’t offer false hopes or promises to the client.
- List out previous experience. Show the client why you are perfect for the job.
- Include examples of previous work. Again, show the client you have done similar work and can meet the needs of the project.
- Be professional. This should go without saying to act professionally when engaging with clients. Write your proposals using complete sentences and proper language.
Step Eight: Initiate Contact with the Client
This is a step only some freelancing websites offer, but if they don’t, don’t hesitate to use it to your advantage. If you join a freelancing website that offers the chance for you to ask the client direct questions about the project, do it! This gives you the chance to engage with the client, show interest in their project, and ask any questions to clarify more pertinent information about the project. It is a great way to also introduce yourself to the client. Show them what skills you have and don’t be shy about sticking out!
Remember, just because you contact the client, doesn’t mean you should berate them about hiring you. Always remain professional and ALWAYS thank them for taking the time to answer your questions. Who knows? While you may not land the first job, they may keep you in mind for the next job they post.
Step Nine: Begin the Project and Complete
This is perhaps the most obvious of all the steps in this post, but still is one of the most important. The next step is to begin the project (once you have been hired of course) and complete it to the best of your ability. Always maintain open communication with your client. If you want to increase the chances of continuous work with the same client, be sure to:
- Contact them daily with status updates about the project.
- Show them screencaps as progress reports, so they can see for themselves the work you have completed in the time frame since you last spoke with them.
- Ask questions frequently if you need clarification about a task.
- Be professional.
Submit work ON TIME and BY THE DEADLINE! NEVER submit late work. That is the quickest way to be fired from a job or for a client to leave bad reviews.
Once your work is submitted, you have one last thing to do. If your client is satisfied with the work, always, ALWAYS ask for the client to leave a review. Ask politely and remind them that a good review will help you land more work in the future. Up to 99% of clients won’t have any issue with this request, especially if you have exceeded their expectations.
Step Ten: Rinse and Repeat
Congrats! You finished your first project!
That doesn’t mean you are done.
In fact, that just means you are ready for new work! While most clients will hire you for repeat work, especially if you have done impeccable work, there are just as many that will move on to a new freelancer for their next project. This is when you will have to apply again to other projects you think you would be a great fit for. Submit more proposals and engage with more clients.
Make Money Online as a Freelancer: The Bottomline
To make money online as a freelancer is a struggle in itself, but it is perhaps one of the most rewarding ways to make money online. It is also one of the easiest ways, especially if you are new to the concept. However, it isn’t without its own set of hurdles you have to overcome. With the help of this post, I hope you have a few good ideas if not a few steps you can follow to help you land your first ever freelancing job.
Have you worked as a freelancer? Do you have some tips that may help a few newcomers out there? If so, drop us a comment down below!