Are you looking to quit your job and make money freelancing online? Maybe you just want to start a side hustle taking some gigs in addition to your regular job. We may be biased, but deciding to start freelancing is a great decision! Read on to figure out how you can make money freelancing in 2020 and beyond.
Freelancing can be a great way to supplement your primary income and it has been growing in popularity astronomically. If you intend to get a lot of clients consistently, then you must figure out ways to stand out from other freelancers. In order to do so, try the below tips:
1) Identify Who You Want to Freelance For
Identifying who you want to work for is called creating a persona. Before thinking too much about how to get freelance work, make a customer persona. Consider what your ideal client would look like. Do this by putting a name and a face behind the type of client you would like to work with. Understand what their needs would be, why they need you, and how you can help them. Knowing these points will make it clearer to what you have to do to get their business.
Before searching for every client out there, it is extremely important to specify your ideal client. By having the persona of the type of client you want to work for, you will be able to narrow down your job search. For example, if your ideal client is a new business owner who needs a responsive e-commerce website, you can search for e-commerce website development gigs.
While creating your customer persona, you should keep in mind that the customer persona should go well with what you do and what skills you possess. If you are an expert web developer, you need to create customer personas of clients who might need web development services. There is no point in creating generic customer personas that fits all sorts of skills.
Doing proper customer segmentation will also help you to price each client accordingly. From reviewing the different versions of personas, you will be able to determine an estimated budget each client might have for their projects. This will prevent you from undercutting your price, when the client is okay with paying a higher price. Over time, you should increase the number of client personas so that you can expand your freelancing business. Working as a freelancer gets easier this way.
2) Choose a Specific Industry
Although this is not necessary, you should get very specific about your ideal client, which includes their industry. Competition with freelancing is increasing, it is those freelancers who specialize in a specific industry have a chance of showing better value to the prospects in those industries. By having a niche that is clear in the services you offer and the industry you offer those services to, you can be more effective at getting the jobs you want.
Rather than applying to any job that requires marketing as a skill set, try focusing on a more detailed skill you have, such as email marketing for the automotive industry. This way you will increase your chances of getting hired in jobs that require this specific skill. When someone will post a job for email marketing for the automotive industry, they will give your proposal more attention.
Many freelancers think it is better to target a broader niche, as there will be more clients to prospect. This is true, but at the same time the competition is stiffer for broader niches. Most freelancers target broad niches thinking the same thing, saturating the market at the end of the day. If you target more specific, narrowed niches, you’ll be able to increase your chances to win jobs because of easier competition.
Especially, if you are a beginner, targeting broader niches might hold your freelancing potential back. You’ll have to compete against experienced freelancers in such niches and clients will rarely want to hire you over people who have ratings and feedback on their freelancing profiles. That’s why beginners should go for narrowed down niches. Once you have received some good ratings, you may try more competitive industries.
3) Get Better with Technology
We understand there can be a challenging learning curve, but being adaptable to newer technology is always a valuable skill no matter what services you offer. This may be a scary thought to some, but something you can’t avoid today. If you don’t bother about getting better with technology, you will fall behind your competitors. Nowadays clients expect any freelancer they work with to be able to handle basic technology.
By getting better with technology doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to become an absolute pro. If you know how to do the basic tasks well, most clients will be fine unless they need a specialized task to be done.
You should be able to use MS Office Suite with ease, install and use browser plugins, handle basic photo editing platforms like Canva, understand social media trends, take care of project management tools like Trello or Basecamp, and post content on WordPress sites. Trust me, so many freelancers around the world are adept at these skills. Prospecting clients will hire them over you if you are unable to do simple tasks with technology.
You can learn most of these tech skills by yourself. You’ll just have to use the applications for a few days. If something seems too complex, Google is always there to help. If you want to learn advanced techniques, platforms like Udemy have free and paid courses. In a nutshell, you simply can’t ignore the importance of getting better with technology for a successful freelancing career.
4) Freelancing Beyond Referrals
If you want to make money freelancing in 2020, you can’t solely rely on referrals. Unless you have several years of freelancing under your belt and are constantly being referred business by clients and other freelancers in your network, you have to market yourself.
It is extremely difficult to start a freelancing career relying on referrals.
To start a simple routine, reach out to 10 new people per day. Whether you do this on LinkedIn, Facebook, Upwork, etc. you want to expand your network to those that fit your persona described in step 1.
Other than referral, there are multiple methods to market your freelancing business. As a beginner, your first choice should be looking for jobs in freelancing job boards like Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, Freelancer.com, and Guru. These are job platforms open for all kinds of freelancers. There are some other freelancer job boards for freelancers with certain skill sets. If you are a coder, Getacoder would be perfect for you. For designers, 99designs is a great place to start. These platforms are best for getting freelance jobs online for beginners.
For prospecting clients through freelancer job boards, first you’ll have to create an attractive profile. An attractive profile stands for a catchy introduction of yourself, demonstration of what you do, your previous experience, certifications, portfolio, and detailed descriptions of the services you provide. Most of the freelancer job boards will show you a percentage to let you know how complete your profile is. Make sure your profile is 100% complete.
After creating an attractive profile, you have to apply to jobs. This is very critical, because without a good job proposal, clients will not even notice you. Here’s a helpful guide for applying for jobs in Upwork.
As a beginner, you might not be able to charge a lot to your initial clients in job boards. However, that does not mean that you should massively undercut yourself from the industry standard. While discussing the job with the prospecting clients, make sure both of you are on the same page about the budget. You’ll be able to charge more once you have some testimonials under your belt.
Social media is another great but underrated tool for finding freelance jobs. Social media platforms, especially Facebook, have groups for freelancers. Be sure to get added in these groups. More often than not other freelancers need a helping hand in their projects. Watch out for those, and be sure to apply when a fellow freelancer needs something that fits your skills. And freelancers understand the value of time and effort of other freelancers, so they are generous in terms of payment. This is not only a brilliant method to expand your networking horizon, but also to earn some extra cash and testimonials.
5) Develop Content Online
Freelancing for beginners is tough, and you have to make a foundation first. For those that are serious about getting traffic online for their freelance business, start creating content on your own website or your social media accounts. Establish a routine for blogging and creating other content such as YouTube videos. Once you start doing this, you will start to establish more of a presence in your niche and prospects will start to discover you through organic search.
Understand though, that this takes some time. It is typical for at least two to three months to go by before you see the results of organic traffic created from your online content. At times, it takes months to get attention from the online audience.
At the initial stage you should try creating a few informative, long blog posts per month, which will act as your site’s pillar content. The content should be suitable for the audience of your potential clients. You need to do this to make your potential clients understand that you are okay with giving free value and able to offer them with more in depth help.
I personally initiate a lot of freelance contracts through the content I post on my website. I posted informative articles about business development and marketing tips. Not only these articles offered genuine help to my client base, but also I was able to demonstrate my depth of understanding. The content on my website helped me to show samples of my work to clients I reached out. In addition, some clients contacted me to ask for help after getting my contact info from my website. This means, creating content online gives you a great opportunity to land inbound prospects.
6) Create a Portfolio Site
When you want a client to get convinced to the extent where they don’t mind hiring you, it is mandatory to demonstrate the technical skills you need for the project in question. The best way to do it is to have a stellar portfolio site. This site has only one objective, to showcase your previous works, and remarks from the clients who hired you. Even if you don’t have any previous clients, still a portfolio website works just fine. Add your professional certificates if you have any, and anything else that proves your expertise.
Especially, if you don’t have job experience, a portfolio website is a must. You won’t be getting clients from word of mouth, so impressing prospects with your skills is the only way. (Read more about that here: How to Get Hired in With No Experience.)
The website needs to be designed in a way which educates and convinces your clients that not only you have the technical skills, but also you can present them well. Take your time, and if necessary, invest some money into the design and SEO of the website.
Don’t forget to promote your portfolio site through your social media accounts! Add the site link to your profile info, and share with your friends list whenever you post something new.
7) Determine Your Pricing
I have seen so many instances where new freelancers massively undercut themselves in hope of getting their first client. This is not the best way to deal with it by any means. Sure, you are not going to earn as much as experienced freelancers who have worked with a lot of clients before. But that does not mean you would want to work for peanuts.
Let me tell you something. Clients do have an idea about the industry and they know how a fair price might look like. If you significantly undercut yourself, chances are higher that your proposals will be ignored. Clients believe that they get what they pay for. If your rates are way too low, they will simply think that you are unskilled and that’s why you are offering to work for such a low price.
Pricing depends a lot on first impression. Try your best to create a great first impression, and take it from there. If you can create a positive impression, the client would not mind hiring you for a good price even if you didn’t work for other clients before. And setting up a fair price is one of the key elements of creating a good impression.
Before setting up a price, do some research and get an idea how much money other freelancers in your industry are making. Then set up a price according to the industry standard. At the initial stage, you may charge a little bit less than the market standard, but that should not be too low. Once you have developed a relationship with the client, it becomes much easier to increase your rates. Here’s a helpful guide.
8) Use Your Networks Wisely
For getting high paying freelance work, using your network wisely is a very effective way. And more importantly, it’s not that difficult as well. Be it your friends, co-workers, or social media contacts, letting them know about your freelance services will increase your chances of closing clients. Probably someone from your known circle does not need your services, but they might have a friend or colleague who does.
9) Learn from the Experts
Freelancer Masterclass is dedicated to helping freelancers just like yourself to understand how to work as a freelancer and get a consistent flow of clients doing the work you love. To find out more about the different options we have available to all types of freelancers, check out our Masterclass.