5 Tips to Get Started as a Freelancer

Freelancing is a very attractive career field. For one, it’s a quickly growing space, with freelancers estimated to make up almost half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. That’s 60 million people who will be freelancers over the next five-or-so years. If you’re someone who wants to work from home, there’s a good chance that you’ll be freelancing!

Freelance jobs are appealing because they put a lot of control in your hands. Freelancers largely choose the who-where-how-what of their daily work lives. They pick the projects they want to work on, the clients they want to work for, and the space in which they work. Most of the time, freelancers work from home, but some also set up camp at their clients’ offices, or rent a coworking space.

But how does one go about getting started as a freelancer? Is it something you magically jump into? What are the steps you need to take?

Here are five tips to get started as a freelancer.

1. Take it slowly.

The nice thing about freelancing is that you choose your workload and schedule. When you’re just starting out, keep your day job and look for side-jobs in the industry you want to freelance in. You’ll find a variety of work-from-home, part-time, and flexible schedule freelance jobs out there. There’s no need to quit your day job just yet.

2. Get your personal brand in order and start learning to self-promote.

You’ll need to coordinate your social media profiles to support your freelance business-because freelancers are business owners, after all. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instragram, and any other sites that make sense for your business. Make sure they all match each other in terms of how you present yourself. And try creating your own basic website or about.me page.

3. Consider yourself the Problem-Solver-in-Chief.

Freelancers are ultimately problem solvers for businesses. As a freelancer, no matter your expertise or industry, you’re helping a business overcome or eliminate a pain-point. Start thinking about the services you office in a way that helps solve problems for potential clients.

4. Gain experience through volunteering.

Most freelancers will tell you that when they first started freelancer, they offered their services for free. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, amass a client list, build your portfolio, and make mistakes before you start charging. But have an end-goal in mind. If you want to be a successful freelancer, the “free” in freelance shouldn’t be that way for long.

5. Search for freelance jobs.

A lot of first-time freelancers (and even experienced ones!) dont realize how often companies advertise their need for freelancers. So even though networking and self-promotion are critical to a successful freelance career, you can also continue to job search for freelance jobs.

— Brie Weiler Reynolds

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