How to Become A Freelancer in 6 Easy Steps (even with a job) 

If there ever was a time to make more money freelancing, it is now! The Internet revolution has ballooned the gig economy to quantum proportions, and smart people know just how to use it to earn more. 

But what does this really mean for professionals who want to ditch the 9-5 grind or work whenever and with whoever they want? 

If you want to start your own freelance business and enjoy the appealing perks that come with it, this post is for you. Let’s get started.


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Table of Contents

Steps to Start the Freelancing Journey

1. Define Your Service

In the freelancing universe, the possibilities are endless – whether you’re crunching numbers as a bookkeeper, crafting compelling narratives as a digital marketer, or coding the next big app as a software engineer. But here’s the inside scoop: clients are hunting for solutions, not just someone to tick off tasks. Your golden ticket? Selling the dream outcomes of what your work achieves. Think less about delivering a “1,000-word website copy in 3 days” and more about showing them how your copy can convert “X number of prospective customers in under 6 months”.

Here’s the thing – some jobs pay better than others, and that’s just how it is. Location, industry, demand – it all plays a part. But here’s where you shine. What is your passion? What gets you fired up? Where can you make the biggest splash? This this through, plan out how you’re going to make it happen, then zero in on a service that’s unmistakably you.


2. Define Your Pricing

Knowing how much to charge can get tricky when you’re just starting. 

But my model is pretty simple:

  • Take your desired annual salary, slash the last 3 zeros and divide the result by two. If you want to earn $100,000, your hourly rate will be $50 ($100000 / 2 = $50). 
  • Double your resentment number: here, you take the VERY LEAST amount you can charge for your work, then double it. Say you’ll work for $10/hour at the very least. Just double this number and charge $20/hour. 

Whether you want to charge by the hour or per project, your pricing model will depend on your niche. And as a beginner, you don’t want to overcharge or “work for free.”

New freelancers often get caught up in a vicious cycle of doing this with the hope of building a portfolio and reputation. But the downside of it is that clients will undervalue your work, and you’ll end up losing your reputation.


3. Land Your First Job

Start by identifying and reaching out to potential clients who could benefit from your skills. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for this purpose, allowing you to find and connect with leads through targeted outreach. Creating a compelling cold email can set the stage for your freelance journey, positioning email marketing as an invaluable asset in your early efforts. Platforms like Upwork offer a practical starting point to gain experience and build your portfolio.

Your first project should closely match your work experience and capabilities, but here is what you need to remember when pitching your proposal. 

  1. The introduction. You’re going to want to build rapport by introducing yourself and how you know about the client.
  2. The offer. Talk about them. What do you want to do for them? Why are you good for that role? You’re going to want to do some research on the organization to see what they need help with.
  3. The benefit. Walk them through how your work will benefit their company. Are you going to free up more time for them? Are you going to maximize profits by X amount?
  4. The foot-in-the-door. This is a classic technique that utilizes an old psychology trick to get the client to agree to a small agreement so you can ask for a larger agreement later.
  5. The call to action. Be clear with this and ask them if they would like to proceed. 

4. Build a Portfolio

It’s normal for clients to find it hard to trust your capabilities unless there is proof. Building a portfolio establishes your work quality by demonstrating your accomplishments and past projects. Highlight specific accomplishments like “I helped this SaaS company boost MRR by 50% in 1 year” rather than just mentioning deliverables. Include links to websites you have worked on, samples of your previous designs or copies of writing on your profile. 

5. Cultivate a Network

Going through your LinkedIn DMs only to be bombarded with pitches from strangers is the opposite of genuine networking. Trust me, no one’s swiping their card on a whim because of a cold message. Real talk: Networking isn’t about what you can get; it’s about what you can give. And here’s the kicker – when you focus on adding value without immediate expectations, that’s when the magic happens. This isn’t just chatter; it’s a proven strategy that top freelancers use to build their empire. Think about it – a solid network can transform a mere 20% of your clients into a powerhouse referral engine, driving 80% of your business. 

But here’s the deal – landing just one client isn’t the endgame. Aim for at least three to ensure your freelance career isn’t just a flash in the pan. Stability is key. Your first client? They could become your steady gig, or better yet, the catalyst for a referral chain that propels you to new heights. That’s the power of a well -cultivated network. So, instead of pushing for immediate sales, focus on building relationships that pay dividends down the line. That’s how you create a sustainable freelance business, Sethi style.


6. Market Yourself

Take time to refine your image and advertise yourself as someone trustworthy. Focus on sharing thought leadership content on LinkedIn, designing a website and answering questions in communities, like Reddit or Quora. This would be an incredibly targeted approach where you can reach potential clients who are already looking for your services. 


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What to Have in Mind Before Starting

Before you start freelancing, take some time to prepare for what’s coming. In the next part, we’ll go over important things to think about so you’re ready to begin your freelancing career. Let’s get into it.

Organization and Routine

Freelancing may seem like the ultimate freedom, but it requires serious discipline. A study shows freelancers often clock in more than 30 hours a week. And if you’re juggling a day job, that figure can soar to over 80 hours. The key? Implement a solid system for time management and work organization.


Working with Multiple Clients

Handling several clients at once is all about balancing your time well, keeping communication clear, and sticking to your commitments.

While it’s tempting to seize every opportunity that comes your way, especially in the early stages of your freelance career, it’s super important to avoid overcommitting. Striking the right balance between being open to new projects and recognizing your limits is everything! Develop a strategy that allows you to manage multiple projects efficiently without compromising on quality or professionalism. 


Licenses and Software

When it comes to tools and software for freelancing, less is often more. It’s easy to fall into the trap of accumulating tons of productivity tools, thinking they’re essential for success. However, the reality is you don’t need every new tool on the market. Focus first on the basics that are critical for your work. 

Concentrate on earning your first income and establishing your network. Once you have a solid foundation, then consider investing in additional tools that can genuinely enhance your productivity and streamline your workflow.


Freelance Marketplaces

With an abundance of freelance marketplaces available, it’s tempting to join as many as possible. They are good to get your feet wet, but you want to be careful not to sign up for every marketplace there is. Find one that works for you and stick to it. Later, you can expand your business development to social, build a website and get into communities.

Start Your Freelancing Journey Today

Starting to freelance today can lead to a career that fits your skills and what you like to do. This guide has given you the basic steps to get going. First, figure out what services you’ll offer, land your initial gigs, and work on creating a solid portfolio and network. To do well in freelancing, you need to do great work and plan smartly. Jump in now and start building a career that will lead you to your Rich Life


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