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An introduction to Freelancing in 2020: How to start freelancing and earn money online.

Freelancing is a great way to gain some freedom in your professional life, and is a good entry point into how to earn money online. Whether it's a career choice or side-business, it’s relatively easy to set up and can be a lucrative online profession. With the huge variety of work available through sites like Fiverr and Upwork, it can be overwhelming at first. Here we will go through the first steps you should take to set yourself up and begin a successful career as a freelancer. 

As the freelancing world is growing and working remotely is becoming the norm rather than the exception, more employers are heading online for jobs they would have previously hired locally for. It can be a daunting prospect of going up against the masses. The key is in publishing an attention-grabbing listing which effectively showcases your skills and backing it up with evidence of a diverse portfolio. Follow these steps and you’re sure to build a profitable, long-lasting career in freelancing. 

What is Freelance Work?

Freelancing is working for yourself rather than working for a company. Freelancers are self-employed, and can decide on their workload due to choosing which jobs to accept. Working as a freelancer allows you the freedom to set your working schedule as you can pick and choose your working hours. There are some downfalls to freelancing. Jobs can be few and far between, and due to the increasing popularity of the work, the listings are becoming more and more saturated. 

It’s important to market yourself effectively by showcasing your skills. Employers are more likely to hire you if you have a trustworthy listing with numerous reviews from clients. In this article, I’ll lay out some simple ways to do this when you’re first starting out. 

What jobs are available?

Freelancing jobs can be anything from highly-skilled professions like legal services, computer programming and online coding, to semi-skilled jobs including voiceover artists, resume creation, data entry and becoming a virtual assistant. 

There are SO many different types of freelancing jobs out there. Anything goes with freelance work, and sites like Fiverr make it possible to make even your weirdest dreams come to reality. Many people have made profitable careers out of simple ideas, proving there is money to be made in literally any niche. 

Here are some examples of pretty unique listings I’ve happened across:

How do I identify and grow my skill?

Identifying your skill is a tough one. Being interested in multiple things is beneficial in the long run, but in order to start strong, it’s important to focus. Ask yourself these questions; 

What do I enjoy doing?

Think about not just what you enjoy doing, but what you would enjoy doing over and over again. Find a niche you’re passionate about by exploring freelancing sites and learn about it. If it’s something you think you could do repeatedly, practice completing jobs as if you were being hired. Give yourself a brief and complete it. You can then add these examples to your website, giving prospective clients an idea of your capabilities. 

What do I want to learn more about? 

I once listened to an interview of a woman who had built a highly profitable freelancing career writing show notes for business podcasts. She figured since she loved listening to podcasts and learning about business, why not try and make a career of it? This is a great approach to take to freelancing.

How do I build my freelance portfolio as a beginner?

It is fundamental to build your credibility when you’re first starting out. One of the best ways to showcase your abilities is through an online platform.

1) Set up a professional website

Most freelancing sites will have a “my website” section of your profile, and a specific list of domains that you are allowed to link to. Make sure you check if your website domain is permitted on the site you will be posting listings on before you create it. For example, WordPress sites are not permitted as a link option on Fiverr, but Blogspot is. 

If you are a designer, photographer or anything visually-inclined, Instagram is an easy and free platform you could use to showcase your work, but linking to it is again is only permitted on some freelancing sites. LinkedIn is always a good shout for the skilled professionals out there, and allows clients to see companies you’ve worked for, and how many years experience you have in your field. 

2) Showcase your experience

Compiling examples of your work in one place will prove your credibility, and demonstrate to employers your ability to providing a professional service. Think about it as your online resume. If you are lacking in experience but still want to prove your abilities, create a range of portfolio pieces. Try and show as much range as you can in these examples. 

3) Get written testimonials

Including reviews and testimonials from clients or previous superiors is a great way to establish credibility. Connections from previous co-workers are just as good if you’re just starting out! Don’t be shy, ask a couple of your previous connections for 50-100 words about their experience when working with you. Display this on your portfolio and you’ll already be set apart from other beginners.

How do I find freelancing jobs?

There are so many different sites designed for freelancers that it’s up to you to decide which works best for you. Check out our guide (link to article about best sites for freelancing in 2020). 

How do I make my freelancing listing get attention?

Some platforms now contain a section where you can add video. This is a great idea for introducing yourself and beginning the relationship with anyone who stumbles across your listing. Always include professional imagery, details of previous experience and write with a friendly but professional tone. Some people choose to include examples of their work as photos on their listing, allowing prospective clients to see clearly that you have experience in your niche. 

Make your listing concise and to the point. Forego obvious points such as “my article will be spellchecked” and instead include sentences that clearly explain what you do differently and better than the competition. 

Freelancing can be a lucrative and rewarding profession, if you put in the work. Follow this advice and you’re sure to be booked up and turning down gigs in no time. The best piece of advice I can give you is to always communicate with your clients. If you are going to be late with a project, no matter the reason, communicate this openly. Keep your customers in the loop when you receive and begin working on the project. Thank them when you submit it, and ask if they would like anything else. 

As you build up a portfolio of work and a returning client base, you will be able to increase your rates depending on demand. After just one-month freelance writing, I have 4x my rates, and am still booked up! You’ll be surprised how receptive people are to high-quality freelancers, so keep providing high quality work and you’re sure to be booked full!

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