How to Start Freelancing in 2023: A Complete Guide
Want to get started freelancing, but don’t know where to begin? Freelancing opens up a world of freedom and potential work opportunities. But it can be hard to know where to start and how to make it successful.
The good news is that there are loads of resources to help you on your freelancing journey. Today we sharing 10 steps to help you start freelancing along with some helpful resources.
10 steps to start freelancing today
Starting to freelance can seem overwhelming. With so many things to think about, where do you begin? Follow our 10 steps and start freelancing today.
1. Find an in-demand skill
Identifying in-demand skills that you already have will help you create a popular service package offering. Find a skill that people always need and that won’t go out of fashion. This could be writing, illustrating, coding, or social media management, for example.
Tip: Check out freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr for inspiration. For example, by looking through Fiverr’s WordPress developers, you can see which skills are most popular and how freelancers market themselves.
Image source: Fiverr
Next, think about how you could package this skill as an offering that helps clients achieve their goals and solve their problems.
Here are a few ideas:
- Managing company Facebook and LinkedIn pages
- Writing ebooks
- Illustrating graphics for a company website
- Developing WordPress sites
- Bookkeeping for small business accounts
2. Define your services
Knowing how to turn your skills into a service is the first step to becoming a successful freelancer.
To be successful as a freelancer, it’s important to truly understand your client’s situation and how your services will benefit them. Think about how you can package your services to properly address their problems.
Next, you need to come up with a concise explanation of your services and how they resolve issues. Think about what you do, how you do it, and for what kinds of businesses and clients.
Here’s an example of how Tom Rigby, a freelance copywriter clearly defines all the different services he offers:
Image source: Tom Rigby
3. Improve your skills
The key to success as a freelancer is to never stop learning. Even if you think you’ve mastered your offering, you need to keep refining your skillset and learning more.
Always leave time in your week for learning and self-development. That way you can grow your service offering and improve your current offering.
Depending on the skills you want to build, consider taking courses on platforms like:
By continuously investing in your learning, you’ll remain competitive in the long term and become a go-to freelancer in your niche.
4. Network with your ideal clients
Before you start freelancing, identify your ideal client type for your service offering. Think about whether they have a shared problem and similar characteristics. Are they in the same industry vertical? Perhaps you’re targeting a broader base of potential clients?
Regardless of who your ideal client is, you’ll need to position yourself in front of potential clients so they know about your work and the services you offer. As you grow and build a reputation, you might be able to rely on client referrals or people finding you organically. But to begin with, you’ll need to be proactive about identifying potential clients and freelance work opportunities.
You can get yourself in front of prospective clients by:
- Tapping into your existing professional network on LinkedIn
- Marketing yourself on social media and your website
- Using freelance platforms like Fiverr or Upwork
- Responding to freelance job postings
- Participating in freelance community groups on Facebook and Slack
Try getting in front of clients using these methods and see which ones work best for you and your offering.
5. Build an online portfolio
An online portfolio is key for proving your experience and expertise to prospective clients. Your portfolio demonstrates your work quality by displaying your past projects. It’s your chance to show clients what you’re capable of producing and your value as a freelancer.
Include your best work in your portfolio and use each piece to show off your offering. Try to provide evidence of how your work benefited the client.
Consider including things like:
- Case studies
- Samples of work
- Data-driven results
Always ask for permission from past clients before featuring their work, results, or testimonials.
Here’s an example of a web designer’s brightly colored and intuitive portfolio. On the first page there’s an overview of all the recent project’s they’ve worked on. Browsers can then click through each project to read up on the details of the project.
Image source: The Lonely Pixel
Image source: The Lonely Pixel
6. Start freelancing part-time
Before you take the plunge and quit your 9-5, it’s a good idea to freelance part-time; as a side hustle. This gives you the perfect opportunity to test out your service offering, figure out exactly what your potential clients want from you, and start marketing your business.
When you start actively doing these things daily, you’ll start to get a feel for what freelancing is like and whether it suits your skillset. You’ll also be able to refine your offering slowly over time without the pressure of needing to depend on a paycheck from freelancing.
7. Develop a personal brand
Building a personal brand can help you stand out from other freelancers and connect more with clients. Instead of having to pitch people you want to work with, having a strong personal brand may mean that you get more organic inquiries as you prove your expertise on various platforms.
Here are a few places you can develop a personal brand online:
- Industry-specific sites like Behance for graphics designers or illustrators
Try to be as consistent as possible. A few interactions every day along with a daily post is a great goal to have.
Building a personal brand is a great long-term strategy that’ll help you build relationships and increase your leads over time. Cultivating it from the beginning will give you a strong foundation for the future.
Freelance writer Kat Boogard has a strong personal brand. She regularly updates her personal blog, social media, and sells a range of products designed to help freelancers through her online shop.
Image source: Kat Boogard
8. Build your reputation
Building a solid reputation for yourself will help you land future freelance gigs and ensure you become an in-demand freelancer in your niche.
Building your reputation starts with maintaining positive client relationships. Instead of seeing your clients as one-off projects, it’s important to see them as humans.
Focus on building positive relationships with your clients and delivering top-quality work. You’ll not only feel great about doing a good job, but you’ll be more likely to receive repeat work and client referrals leading to more work.
How can you build good client relationships?
- Produce high-quality work consistently: High-quality work is essential for client satisfaction. You need to solve the client’s problem and provide value to build a long-term relationship.
- Look for ways to provide more value: Try to surprise and delight your client by going the extra mile with your work. If you take the initiative and show your ability to take on extra responsibilities, you’ll improve satisfaction and open the door for other ways to collaborate.
- Communicate efficiently: Solid client communication fosters stronger business relationships and will increase your client’s trust in you.
- Manage expectations: It’s tempting to overpromise but it’s much better to underpromise and overdeliver. Meet your deliverables and go above and beyond on what you initially promised. That way your client will trust your process and be pleased when you overdeliver.
9. Set your rates
Setting freelance rates is always a delicate balance of maximizing the amount you’re paid, remaining competitive, and not losing out on work. Start by looking at what your competitors are charging for similar freelancing services.
Setting freelance rates is an art and not a science––you’ll likely find that your rates fluctuate depending on the industry vertical, your experience, and the client’s budget. As you’re setting rates, consider these factors:
- Industry: How much market demand is there from your chosen industry?
- Experience: The experience you have will likely impact the value you’re able to deliver.
- Project complexity: Longer more complex projects need to be compensated for accordingly.
- Client’s location: Geographical location and local currency may impact the client’s budget.
- Urgency: Freelancers often charge more for rush projects.
- Project duration: One off projects may incur higher costs than steady long-term contracts.
These variables will help you determine your rates for each project. Remember your rates aren’t set in stone. Reassess them regularly and make adjustments according to your experience and the current market demand.
10. Join freelance communities
Freelancing can get lonely. Without teammates, meetings, and break rooms, it can feel isolating. But the best part about freelancing is that there are thousands of freelancers just like you.
Joining freelance communities is a great way to form friendships with other freelancers of all experience levels. There will be some freelancers who are just beginning their journey and who can relate to your highs and lows. And there’ll also be more experienced freelancers who you can ask for advice.
As you find your way around these communities, you’ll be able to build out your freelancing network. Once you establish your reputation and people know what you do, other freelancers might even start referring work to you when they’re too busy to take on new projects.
FAQs on how to start freelancing
Can you start freelancing with no experience?
Yes, it’s possible to start freelancing without experience. It’s vital, though, to choose a freelancing idea you’re already interested in and then start building a portfolio. Even if you don’t have any experience freelancing, you likely have skills and experience that will help you develop a service offering. Commit to long-term learning and learn as you freelance.
Which skill is best for freelancing?
There’s no one best skill for freelancing. Instead, think about what you’re already passionate about and what you have experience doing. See how it compares which freelance skills are most in-demand in 2023 such as web design, writing, editing, and coding. Choose a skill that combines both criteria.
How do freelancers get paid?
Freelancers have lots of options when it comes to getting paid. They usually agree on contract payment terms with a client before a project begins. These terms might be that the freelancer completes several projects, works on a retainer, or completes just one project.
Freelancers usually accept payment digitally through platforms like PayPal, Wise, or bill.com. Your client may also pay you through a simple bank transfer too. Or you could accept credit card payments. It all depends on freelancers and client preferences.
Can you freelance part-time?
The short answer is yes–in fact, it’s often best to start freelancing part-time. Many freelancers start by moonlighting; working their regular 9-5 job and completing freelance projects in the evening or at the weekends. Freelancing part-time is a great way of testing the waters before going all-in.
Which freelancing platforms are best?
When you start freelancing, as well as tapping into your existing network you might want to use some freelance platforms to find your first projects. These marketplaces can help you get the wheels turning of your freelance business––but don’t rely on them too much. Remember it’s always better to build your own network and start relying on it more over time.
To get started here are a few popular freelancing platforms:
Start freelancing in 2023
Freelancing can be a great way to enjoy flexibility, remote work, and varied client work that excites you. To succeed, start slowly and gradually increase your workload as you become more confident. Then if you want to, take the plunge into full-time freelancing work. The key is to never stop learning and strive for high-quality work every time.
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