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5 Things Learnt From My First Year of Freelancing

This past year, I’ve learned a crazy amount of information on freelancing. I’ve written a few points on how you can make the step into freelance work over on my other blog – you can find that post here. With that in mind, here’s a few things that I’ve realised in my first year of self employment.

1. Going freelance isn’t that difficult

Now, this may be due to the fact that I jumped in head first and didn’t really consider it not working out. Usually, I’m not that spontaneous but my train of thought at the time was to just go for it and see what happened. Luckily, I have managed to earn enough to pay my bills. Like everything in life, freelancing seems harder at first than it really is but once you get a few jobs under your belt, your confidence rises and you start to see a steady stream of work flow in.

2. Believe in yourself

I’m not the most confident person in the world but you probably wouldn’t know that if you read my blogs or CV. When it comes to self employment, you really need to show belief in your abilities. In order to obtain freelance work, you have to show what you can do and pitch to clients. That requires sounding professional and basically, bigging yourself up. Even if you’re not a confident person, pretend you are when it comes to work. I always mention my key skills in any pitch and the areas that I have experience in.

3. Set reasonable rates

The hardest part for me when going freelance was to set my rates. Every freelancer has different ideas about what their personal rates are. I’ve seen many people state a range of figures but I generally set my rates in terms of an hourly figure. Some people might think that’s too low but it works for me and its what I’m happy with at this moment in time. If you’re starting out, you might want to think about how much freelance work you can do in one hour and how much you would charge for that. Personally, nobody should be charging less than minimum wage.

4. Look at various freelancing job sites

I always look at various job sites – you can see a few of those here. I’ve actually found most work via freelance sites. These tend to have a stigma of only advertising low paid jobs and there are employers who only want to pay very little. However, there are also many clients that are willing to pay good rates for quality work so dont dismiss these sites when you’re starting out.

5. Learn new skills

Learning new skills is always going to help in gaining employment. One of the main reasons that I use WordPress for this site is down to the fact that I see many clients that require experience of using the platform. I’ve also recently moved my lifestyle blog over to Squarespace as its a platform that seems to be gaining popularity with many businesses. I’ve also undertaken a few courses to help me improve my knowledge of marketing and social media. Free courses can really help in this area!

 

How to Sell Yourself as a Freelancer

freelancer

When you’re a freelancer, you really need to sell yourself in order reap the rewards. Having a great portfolio helps too but knowing how to really sell yourself to potential clients can make the difference between getting that great job opportunity or going back to searching for projects. If you’re pitching a proposal or putting your CV forward, ask yourself these questions;

1. What are your strengths?

Think about the service that you’re selling. What is it you do well? What are your key areas of knowledge? For example, if you’re a freelance writer, what niches can you write for? do you have seo experience? can you write for varying audiences?

2. Show what you’re worth

There will be many people offering their services for less but what do you have that they don’t. It may be that you have a great standard of English, lots of experience, you’re good at researching, have qualifications in a particular field. Don’t be afraid to pitch for a higher rate than other clients if you can show what you can do!

3. Don’t mention what you can’t do

Forget mentioning what you can’t do to clients – concentrate on what you can do. If you need to mention to a client that you don’t have experience in a certain area, turn it into a positive, such as ‘my area of expertise is academic writing only’.

4. Offer a sample of your work

Always offer a sample of your work in a job proposal or pitch. It’s a good idea to create a portfolio of your work (I’ll have some steps to show you how you can easily achieve this next week). If you don’t have a portfolio, do you have links to work published online? Alternatively, can you upload a sample to include with your pitch?

5. Tailor yourself to the job

How can you tackle the job that’s on offer? Look at the job description and tailor your pitch to the specification. Mention why you can meet the skills required. For instance, if the job is writing a blog post then mention other blogs you’ve written for, the types of genres you’ve written for and any other details that makes you the right candidate for the job. This may include your experience of platforms, such as WordPress, the use social media or search engine optimisation.

 

How To Make Your First 1k Freelancing

So, you’ve started freelancing or you’re thinking of transitioning to freelance work. You’re going to want to know how to make money right? Of course, doing something you’re incredibly passionate about is great but unfortunately that’s not going to pay the bills.

Having set myself up as a freelancer with very little guidance – and it really has been me just jumping in at the deep end, I feel I can share my wisdom with you.

Earning you’re first 1k as a freelancer really isn’t that difficult. That hard part is getting started freelancing. Once you’ve cracked that, you’re on your way.

However, there’s a few things that are going to help you…

Price yourself fairly when freelancing

When you start out, you need to know what are you going to charge per hour or project. The best way to do this is to consider how much work you can do in an hour. If that’s say writing a 500 word article then that’s going to be your base price i.e if you’re looking to charge £10 to write 500 words then that’s your hourly rate. Some clients may pay in dollars, so it handy to know the current exchange rate. I always use this site to calculate the difference.

Don’t overprice yourself but increase your fees as your experience grows

You don’t wanna undersell yourself either but if you start charging too much for your services when you start then you’re not going to find much work coming your way. Keep it reasonable but remember that when you become more experienced in a certain area to increase your hourly rate.

Sell yourself

This is your main target as a freelancer. If you don’t believe in your own skills then no-one else will. Obviously you can fake confidence but you need to demonstrate to potential clients that you’re the best person for the job.

Look at different income streams/clients

Ever heard the saying, don’t put your eggs in one basket. I gained a monthly writing gig pretty quick – 5 days per week at decent (ish) money. Two days into the project the gig got cancelled and it was back to the drawing board. A lesson I learnt quick is not to rely on one type of income. I always try to have more than one project going at the same time and I’m always looking for the next one to take on. Be proactive and don’t just stick to one source of income.

Get looking

Actively look for work and don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Search freelance sites, indeed, gumtree and other sites like the ones listed here.

Consider things you wouldn’t normally do

Can you work in other areas? Write about topics you may not normally consider? It could open up opportunities to other avenues.

Learn new skills

Part of the reason I set up this blog was down to the fact that I needed experience of WordPress. Many potential clients were asking for WordPress experience, so it made sense for me to go and get it. There are loads of free courses on the internet (see said post here) that can teach you new skills and help you to find work in other areas.

Have a personal website or blog to showcase your skills

It doesn’t need to be a source of income in itself but it can help you to open up to potential readers and clients.

Review yourself

Take into consideration your goals. What can you do better? What can you change? I recently found myself at a crossroads and I’m starting to work in a different direction than I previously did. At the end of every month, take stock of what you’ve achieved and ask yourself if you’re doing enough to achieve your goals.

Accept constructive criticism

Receiving criticism is tough but when it comes to your work, you can use it constructively to achieve better results. Learning what you can improve on will help you to grow. If this is something you struggle with then try asking a friend or relative for unbiased feedback first and ask for their suggestions in how you can improve.

Be realistic

Gaining work is always good when you’re self employed but be realistic with what you can achieve. Don’t take on projects that are too big or demanding if you can’t deliver. Think carefully before accepting a project to ensure that you can finish it on time.

If you want to learn more about getting started then read my post on making the leap into freelancing