FuelEd has published several blogs on freelancing and side-hustles. And we’ve talked about how it offers freedom and flexibility.. But did we tell you this? – On average, only 3 out of 10 freelancers make it past two years of starting. Meaning, 70% of the beginner freelancers either fail or quit within 2 years of starting. Scary, right?
Now if you, for any reason, have decided to start freelancing and want to increase your chances of success, this blog is for you. A list of 20 essential freelancing tips for beginners. From finding clients and building portfolio to learning negotiation, this blog covers it all.
Even if you aren’t a beginner freelancer, you’ll find some of the tips worth considering. Let’s get on with 20 freelancing tips I wish I knew as a first-time freelancer!
20 Freelancing Tips for Beginners
1. Don’t rush to quit your day job
Probably the most important freelancing tip. It’s advisable to start freelancing on the side while maintaining your day job to ensure a stable income as you build your freelance business. This allows you to test the waters, gain experience, and establish a client base without the added pressure of relying solely on freelancing income.
It also provides a safety net during the initial stages when you may face uncertainties or fluctuations in freelance work. By gradually transitioning into full-time freelancing once you have a steady flow of clients and income, you can mitigate financial risks and make a smoother career shift.
2. Approach freelancing with an open mind
Freelancing offers a world of opportunities in various industries and niches. Embrace the flexibility and versatility that freelancing provides by being open to different types of projects and clients.
Explore diverse areas that align with your skills and interests, even if they may be outside your comfort zone. Use hit-and-trial method to find your calling: try your hands on any and everything that comes your way. This open-minded approach can lead to unexpected discoveries, new skill development, and the ability to tap into untapped markets.
Expanding your horizons increases your chances of finding unique freelance opportunities and building a more diverse client portfolio.
3. Utilize freelance platforms to find clients
Take advantage of the multitude of online platforms dedicated to connecting freelancers with clients. Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr provide a convenient way to showcase your skills, browse available projects, and connect with potential clients.
Create a compelling profile highlighting your expertise and experience, and actively apply for relevant projects. These platforms often have built-in communication and payment systems, making managing client relationships easier and ensuring timely payments.
By leveraging freelance platforms, you can gain exposure to a wider range of clients and increase your chances of securing projects.
4. Develop a portfolio to build client confidence
Building a strong portfolio is essential for attracting clients and demonstrating your capabilities.
Your portfolio should showcase your best work and highlight the skills and expertise you bring to the table. Include a variety of samples that represent the range of services you offer and the industries you’ve worked in.
If you’re just starting out and don’t have client work to showcase, consider creating “spec” projects or personal projects that showcase your skills and creativity. These can serve as evidence of your abilities and help potential clients visualize how you can add value to their projects. Regularly update your portfolio with new and relevant work to keep it fresh and impressive.
5. Demonstrate your abilities with ‘spec’ projects
Taking on “spec” projects can be a valuable strategy when you have limited work to show in your portfolio. Speculative projects involve creating work without a confirmed client, allowing you to showcase your skills and creativity. Identify areas or industries you’re interested in working with and create sample projects tailored to those niches.
Treat these spec projects as real assignments, delivering high-quality work and demonstrating your ability to meet client expectations. By showcasing these projects in your portfolio, you can instill confidence in potential clients and increase your chances of securing paid freelance work.
6. Determine your freelance rates wisely
Pricing your freelance services appropriately is crucial for your financial success and for attracting clients. Consider several factors when determining your rates, including your experience, expertise, the complexity of the project, the value you provide, and industry standards.
Research market rates and analyze your competition to ensure your pricing is competitive yet sustainable. Be mindful of not undervaluing your skills and services, as this can create a perception of low quality.
To accommodate client preferences, consider offering different pricing structures, such as hourly rates or project-based fees. Regularly reassess and adjust your rates as you gain more experience and expertise.
7. Master the art of negotiation
Negotiation skills are invaluable for freelancers, allowing you to secure fair compensation and favorable project terms. Prepare for negotiations by researching the client, understanding their budget constraints, and determining your own boundaries and requirements. Clearly communicate the value you bring to the project and articulate why your rates are justified. Be open to compromises and alternative solutions that meet both your needs and the clients.
Maintain professionalism and a collaborative mindset throughout the negotiation process, aiming for a win-win outcome. By mastering negotiation techniques, you can build mutually beneficial relationships with clients and ensure you receive fair compensation for your work.
8. Create a seamless client onboarding experience
The onboarding process sets the tone for your client relationship and can significantly impact their satisfaction and perception of your services. Focus on clear and timely communication during the onboarding phase to establish expectations, clarify project details, and align objectives. Provide a detailed project timeline, deliverables, and any necessary requirements from the client.
Ensure the client understands the scope of work, pricing, and payment terms upfront. This transparent and well-structured onboarding experience builds trust, minimizes misunderstandings, and sets the foundation for a successful collaboration.
9. Ensure legal compliance
As a freelancer, it’s important to understand and comply with legal obligations specific to your location and industry. Familiarize yourself with tax requirements, registration processes, and any necessary licenses or permits.
Consult with a legal professional or accountant to ensure you have a solid understanding of your legal responsibilities. Adhering to legal regulations not only protects you from potential legal issues but also enhances your professional image and credibility in the eyes of clients.
10. Embrace the importance of freelancer contracts
Contracts are essential for protecting your interests and establishing clear terms with clients. A well-drafted contract outlines project details, deliverables, timelines, payment terms, and intellectual property rights.
It provides a legal framework that safeguards both parties’ rights and expectations. Consult with a legal professional to create a comprehensive contract template or adapt existing templates to suit your specific needs. Implementing contracts from the start of each project establishes professionalism, mitigates potential conflicts, and ensures that both you and your clients are on the same page.
11. Get organized for freelancing success
Organization is key to effectively managing your workload, meeting deadlines, and maintaining productivity. Establish a system for organizing project files, communication logs, and financial records. Utilize project management tools or apps to track tasks, set reminders, and maintain a calendar.
Establish a routine and set realistic goals to stay focused and motivated. Staying organized reduces the likelihood of missing deadlines, improves client satisfaction, and creates a more efficient workflow.
12. Automate and outsource when appropriate
Embrace technology and automation tools to streamline repetitive tasks and save time. Identify tasks that can be automated, such as invoicing, social media scheduling, or email templates, and utilize tools that can handle these processes.
Additionally, consider outsourcing tasks outside your expertise or time constraints to other freelancers or virtual assistants. Delegating non-core tasks allows you to focus on your strengths and spend more time on high-value work. By using automation and outsourcing strategically, you can increase productivity and efficiency in your freelance business.
13. Take charge of your freelancer finances
Financial management is crucial for freelancers to ensure profitability and sustainability. Create a budget that accounts for both business and personal expenses, and track your income and expenses diligently.
Use accounting software or tools specifically designed for freelancers to streamline financial tracking and generate professional invoices. Set aside funds for taxes and establish a separate business bank account to maintain clear financial records. Regularly review your finances, analyze cash flow, and adjust your budget as needed to achieve financial stability and growth.
14. Join online freelancer communities
Engaging with other freelancers in online communities provides numerous benefits, including support, knowledge sharing, and networking opportunities. Join forums, social media groups, and professional networks where freelancers gather to exchange insights and experiences. Participate in discussions, ask questions, and offer help to build relationships and gain valuable advice from experienced freelancers.
These communities can also provide leads for potential collaborations or referrals. By connecting with fellow freelancers, you expand your professional network, learn from other’s experiences, and feel a sense of belonging in the freelance community.
15. Embrace continuous learning as a freelancer
The freelance landscape is ever-evolving, and staying updated with industry trends and acquiring new skills is crucial to remain competitive. Invest in your professional development by attending webinars, workshops, or online courses relevant to your field. Follow industry thought leaders, read books, and subscribe to newsletters or blogs that provide valuable insights.
Stay curious and seek opportunities to expand your skill set or explore emerging areas. By continuously upskilling yourself, you enhance your expertise, offer more value to clients, and position yourself as a sought-after freelancer.
16. Perfect the art of client pitching
Crafting persuasive and compelling pitches is essential to win over potential clients and secure freelance projects. Tailor your pitches to each client’s specific needs, demonstrating your understanding of their goals and challenges. Highlight the unique value you bring to the table and showcase relevant experience and success stories.
Clearly articulate how your skills and expertise can address their requirements and deliver desired outcomes. Keep your pitch concise, engaging, and professional. Practice and refine your pitching skills to create a compelling case that differentiates you from other freelancers and persuades clients to choose your services.
17. Embrace feedback as a freelancer
Feedback is a valuable tool for growth and improvement as a freelancer. Actively seek feedback from clients to understand their satisfaction, areas for improvement, and opportunities to exceed expectations.
Be open-minded and receptive to criticism, taking it as an opportunity to enhance your skills and deliver better results. Respond to feedback professionally and constructively, demonstrating your commitment to client satisfaction. By embracing feedback, you build stronger client relationships, refine your work, and position yourself as a freelancer dedicated to continuous improvement.
18. Harness the power of referrals
Satisfied clients can be your best advocates and sources of new business. Don’t hesitate to ask for referrals from clients who are pleased with your work. Cultivate strong relationships with your clients by delivering exceptional service and results, and kindly request that they refer you to their contacts or colleagues who may benefit from your services.
Consider offering incentives, such as discounts or bonuses, as a token of appreciation for referrals. Referrals can significantly expand your client base, increase conversion rates, and establish trust from the start.
19. Recognize when it’s time to level up
As your freelance business grows, be aware of signs indicating it’s time to take your career to the next level. This may include expanding your service offerings, increasing your rates, or targeting higher-paying clients.
Monitor your workload, client feedback, and revenue trends to identify opportunities for growth. Invest in professional development, delegate non-core tasks, or collaborate with other freelancers to scale your business effectively. Recognizing and seizing these opportunities allows you to elevate your freelance career, increase your earning potential, and achieve long-term success.
20. Find a balance between confidence and humility
Striking a balance between self-assurance and a willingness to learn and adapt is essential for freelancers. Cultivate confidence in your skills, expertise, and the value you offer to clients.
Communicate your strengths and accomplishments confidently. However, remain humble and open to feedback, new ideas, and continuous learning. Recognize that there is always room for improvement and that every project is an opportunity to grow. By finding this balance, you project professionalism, build strong client relationships, and position yourself as a trusted and adaptable freelancer.
Parting Words on freelancing tips
Freelancing looks all easy and rewarding but trust me, it’s not all about the comfy PJs and extra income. After the COVID outbreak, the number of freelancers (and that too full-time freelancers) has risen to an unimaginable percentage. However, you don’t need to worry. Armed with the 21 freelancing tips, you’re all set to a successful freelancing career.
Wait, 21? Yes, the 21st freelancing tip and probably the most important one: Stay consistent. A part of why 70% freelancers fail within 2 years is because they quit. Freelancing isn’t a race, it is a marathon. And to win a marathon, you need to be consistent and resilient.
So, start now, stay consistent, keep those skills sharp, negotiate like a pro, close clients, and give a boost to your freelancing career from day-1. Stay FuelEd.