Freelancing 101 – How to Freelance Successfully
As a freelancer, you wear many hats.
You’re both an employee and a business owner. Sometimes, you’re playing both roles simultaneously.
The reality is you have the same responsibilities as any other company: marketing, accounting, compliance, and billing. You must even do your own taxes.
Working as a freelancer isn’t easy. However, it’s rewarding if done right.
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about freelancing.
What Are the Benefits of Working as a Freelancer?
Freelancers come from all walks of life and work in a wide variety of industries. They have their own reasons for becoming freelancers, which vary just as much as the people themselves.
However, several benefits attract most freelancers to this career path.
- Setting their hours
- Setting their schedule
- No commuting
- Flexibility (ability to work from anywhere)
- Limited oversight/management
- Control over the type of work done, at what rate, and for whom
- Tax deductions
Other benefits include the ability to have clients from all over the world and to work with different types of people. Working as a freelancer allows you to not only diversify your income stream but also enjoy full control over it.
You can take on projects that sound interesting, impactful, and worthwhile. This allows you to build different revenue streams that can complement one another nicely. For example, one client might need your help with marketing while another needs help with creative aspects of the required website.
You don’t have to work for just one company or type of person to enjoy these benefits.
How to Get Started
The first thing you need to do is decide what type of freelancer you are. Here are many of the freelance jobs you might choose from:
- Web Developer
- Graphic Designer
- Social Media Manager
- Virtual Assistant
- Data Entry
- Video Editing
- Language Translator
- Voiceover Artist
Once you know what type of work you’ll do, it’s a good idea to document all the tasks you’ll go through as you perform for clients. For example, create SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) documents for how you’ll design websites as a freelance web developer.
Marketing as a Freelancer
The one thing all freelancers have in common is they must perform marketing activities. For example, you could create a website and hope someone finds it. However, if you don’t actively market it, it’s doubtful any customers will find it and hire you for your services.
To market yourself as a freelancer, you’ll need to work on the following types of marketing activities:
- Write unique and original articles on your topic of expertise and publish them on high-authority sites.
- Do guest blogging for small businesses and other niche websites.
- Join freelancing websites such as Upwork.com or Freelancer.com.
- Join several social media groups and actively participate with other freelancers.
You can also use websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist to find work.
Companies will often hire freelancers for short or ongoing projects. You can search online job boards to find these types of opportunities. Some companies post their projects publicly, while others prefer to hire freelancers on a more private basis.
Getting Your First Client
Once you’ve done your research and found an online job board, you must apply for the types of jobs that interest you.
Send your resume and portfolio to the companies that interest you. You can’t get clients if you never ask them for work. Companies will often reply to applicants within 24 hours if they’re interested in hiring you.
Once you get a customer, you’ll need to follow up and keep in touch with them. Let the company know when they can expect to receive your completed work.
What You Need to Know About Taxes
As a freelancer, you’ll need to pay taxes on your income like any self-employed individual. If you’re in the US, make sure to familiarize yourself with the IRS tax code. Tax rates vary based on location and industry.
If you’re operating as an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or corporation, then taxes become even more complicated. You’ll have to pay taxes every quarter on the income received from your work.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep accurate records and file tax returns each year. You can file annual returns by yourself or hire an accountant to do it for you.
Helpful Tips for Successful Freelancing
Many people successfully navigate this career path by following these tips.
- Hustle hard – There’s no substitute for hard work.
- Remain consistent – If you want to become successful as a freelancer, you must do consistent work.
- Develop communication skills – You must clearly explain what you’ll do for clients, as well as listen to their needs.
- Stay patient – This career path takes time to grow. It can take months or even years before you’re able to fully support yourself financially as a freelancer.
Disadvantages to Becoming a Freelancer
We discussed the benefits of becoming a freelancer above. There are disadvantages you should know about as well.
You might have a dry spell where no one hires you for your expertise or at all. Prepare for this possibility by keeping an emergency fund in place.
This isn’t the only way your income might become unstable. One client might take longer than expected to pay you or say they’re unhappy with your service.
No Medical Benefits
You won’t have access to traditional medical benefits as a freelancer unless you purchase them yourself.
No Vacation Pay
Employers will offer you vacation time as a regular employee. However, as a freelancer, there’s no one to pay for vacations except yourself.
Freelancers must actively seek out clients to become successful.
Finding Time for Yourself
Many freelancers struggle with finding time for themselves because they’re too busy working. Stay aware in this area and recharge your batteries periodically.
Working from Home
Working from home can lead to isolation and distractions that cut into your work time. Tell your family that they can’t disturb you while you’re working on projects.
Do you think you want to start freelancing? It’s possible if you take a long-term view, get started, and remain consistent with marketing your expertise.
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