Have you ever found yourself wondering how to become a freelancer? If you are thinking about taking the leap, the numbers show you’re onto a good thing. The gig economy has grown exponentially over recent years, with more companies than ever before looking at using freelancers to source the talent they need. In fact, hiring managers predict that the amount of work undertaken by flexible talent will more than double over the next 10 years.
But where do you even begin? Lucky for you, it’s never been easier to become a freelancer. There are many different paths you can take to success. You can begin freelancing as a side-hustle to test the waters, or make it your full-time career.
To help you get started, here’s our 7 easy steps of how to become a freelancer. It covers everything you need to know to take the freelancing world by storm, so let’s get into it!
Step 1: Decide whether freelancing is right for you
First things first, you’ll need to decide whether freelancing is actually the right choice for you. Freelancing is pretty amazing, but it’s also important to consider everything involved before making the jump. On the one hand, freelancing comes with much more freedom and flexibility. However, it also brings added responsibility as you are now the boss.
As a self-employed worker, you’ll need to be ready to manage multiple projects simultaneously and to put yourself out there to maintain a steady flow of work. Before you start, ensure you fully research both the pros and the cons of freelancing so you know what you’re getting into and are prepared for everything it entails.
Step 2: Define your Services
So, you’ve done your research and have decided the freelancing life is definitely the right one for you. Welcome to the club! To turn your dreams into a reality, you’ll firstly need to transform your skills and experience into a service that clients will want to pay for. Your entire business will revolve around the unique skills you have to offer. So taking the time now to define exactly what this service is will stand you in good stead as you embark on your freelancing journey.
To do this, make a list of all the skills you’ve amassed over your career so far. Then, go through each skill and consider how they could help a prospective client and whether they would be willing to pay for them. To help with this, try putting yourself into the shoes of your ideal client. What problems do they have and how can your skills be used to help address them? The answers to these questions will become the basis of how you turn these skills into a service.
Using this, you can then create a description of your service that makes clients want YOU. For example, let’s say you’re a copywriter. Even though you may write the most incredible copy, just saying you are a copywriter alone won’t convince clients they should trust you. Remember, they’ll be coming to you with a problem they want solving. This means you need to take your skills and package them as a solution. Instead, you provide SEO optimised blogs that drives high-quality traffic and improves search rankings.
The clearer you are in what your services are and what the outcome of working with you will be, the more successful you will be in attracting clients and securing gigs.
Step 3: Decide your pricing
Now you’ve defined your services, you’ll next need to consider how much to charge. It is an important decision you’ll need to make in the path of how to become a freelancer. However, it’s also one of the trickiest for those just starting out. There’s lots of different pricing strategies you can choose from, with some of the main ways including;
- Day Rate: This is when you charge clients a standard rate for each day you have worked. It’s a great option for a range of different projects, although it will require you to track the amount of time you work for each client, so organisation is key.
- Fixed cost: You can also charge a fixed price for a project. This is agreed upon once the project scope and deliverables have been clearly defined. This option will allow you to plan ahead as you know the exact amount you’ll be receiving. However, it can provide less flexibility in comparison to charging by your day-rate.
- Retainer: This is a flat fee based on an hourly/daily rate and the prediction of the number of hours/days spent on a monthly basis. This option is normally used for long-term, ongoing projects.
To help you in your decision, start by doing some research. If you can, reach out to other freelancers and your professional network to gain a better idea the going rates in your field of expertise. This list of the key considerations to take into account when deciding a pricing strategy will also help when working out what to charge.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when deciding your pricing. However, just remember that the fees you set now aren’t permanent and can always be changed once you start. Set your pricing at what feels right and what you feel comfortable with. Ultimately, it’s up to you.
Step 4: Develop your portfolio
Now you have your services and pricing down to a T, you can start building out your portfolio. Creating a compelling portfolio is arguably one of the most integral steps of how to become a freelancer. It’s one of the most important tools at your disposal because it demonstrates your credibility by showing clients exactly what you can do, rather than telling them.
As John, our Head of Talent here at Jam Pan, says; would you hire a wedding singer if you’ve never heard them sing? It can be the deciding factor in a clients’ decision to choose you, so it’s worth investing the time now in creating an amazing portfolio before you start looking for new projects. That being said, what should your portfolio actually contain?
Fundamentally, your portfolio should showcase your best work related to each of the services you offer. There’s many different types of format you can utilise to demonstrate this. For example, if you’re a project manager, you may choose to include case studies that explain your approach, what you did and the results you brought for your clients. However, if you’re an animator, you instead might include video examples which demonstrates your animation skills. (Remember to always check with your clients before incorporating any of their project materials in your portfolio!)
However, when you’re starting out, it can be hard to know where to begin when creating your portfolio. If you don’t have any client work you can show, don’t worry! Instead, you can start by building your own examples. Create your own briefs and then develop the solution to demonstrate what exactly you can do.
Step 5: Create your business
Once you’ve got everything lined up to begin your freelancing journey, you’ll now need to make things a bit more official. As part of this, a key decision is whether to establish yourself as a sole trader or a limited company.
One option of how to become a freelancer is to be a sole trader. This option is undoubtedly easier to set up and to run compared to a limited company. In fact, 59% of the UK private sector business population were registered as sole traders at the start of 2019. A sole trader is a self-employed person and means that you run your own business as an individual. You have a control over your business and means you get to keep all your post-tax profits. As a sole trader, there’s also no requirement to pay any registration fees with Companies House (although you will still need to register as self-employed).
Obviously, less paperwork to complete is a definite plus, and it is also quicker to set up compared to a limited company. However, it’s important to bear in mind that, as a sole trader, your personal assets are not distinguishable from your business accounts. Basically, this means you are liable for any losses your business makes and your personal possessions are at risk if things do go wrong.
To get started, you’ll need your National Insurance number and will have to register with HMRC for self-assessment. For more information, check out this guide on how to get set-up as well your responsibilities as a sole trader.
In comparison, a limited company keeps your finances and liabilities separate from your personal assets. Unlike a sole trader, you are not your business. It’s considered its own entity, meaning that the business directors/owners aren’t personally or directly culpable for debts or liabilities of the business.
Keep in mind that this is more complicated to set up than a sole trader and brings greater responsibilities and more paperwork. For more information on this, check out our handy step-by-step guide on how to set up a limited company.
Step 6: Find Clients
Now you’re set up, you’re in a great position to start finding your very first clients! During the journey of how to become a freelancer, it isn’t enough to just be great at what you do to get work. You’ll need to take a proactive role in finding clients and getting yourself in front of those who matter.
One way of doing this is by making the most of your existing networks. Let everyone, from friends, family and former colleagues, know that you are going solo. Not only is it great practise to perfect your pitching skills, but it will help get the word out there. Tell them what you do and see if they know anyone who needs the services you are offering.
Social media will also become your new best friend when making the move into gig work. Ensure you are easily findable and that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and showcases your experience. Utilising the same platforms as your dream clients is also a great way to begin to build connections and get yourself on their radar. You don’t need to be pushy while doing this, try interacting with their posts and showing support for what they’re doing to get your name out there and demonstrate your expertise. Joining relevant networking groups will help you get to know your fellow freelancers. Not only can they provide you with valuable support and advise on how to become a freelancer, they may also help recommend you to others clients.
Using online platforms like Jam Pan can also be a great option when starting out as a gig worker. Freelancing websites make it easy to help connect with clients who are looking for your services. They’ll do all the leg work for you, letting you focus on doing really incredible work.
Step 7: Enjoy it!
Going freelance may feel daunting at first, but doing your research beforehand can make this transition a lot easier. Then, by following the simple steps of how to become a freelancer outlined in this blog, you’ll be well on your way to success!
Be confident in yourself and what you have to offer. And don’t be afraid to reach out to your connections for support. Becoming a freelancer is one of the most empowering things you can do, so make sure you embrace this journey and enjoy the new-found freedom it brings – you deserve it!
Need help turning your freelance dream into a reality? If you need further guidance on how to become a freelancer and everything it entails, get in touch. We’d love to help you take the next step in your career.