How to Become a Freelancer: The Complete Guide

Be your own boss. Set your own schedule. Make lots of money and retire early to your private island.

Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?

It’s what draws so many people to become a freelancer (Okay, so maybe the private island part is a bit of a stretch). Just quit your day job and make your own money-except it’s not that easy.

Fortunately, we’ve got the guide to teach you how.

So whether you’re trying to make a little extra money on the side, or are looking to break free of the 9-5 grind and go freelance full-time, here’s how to become a freelancer.

What Is a Freelancer?

A freelancer is someone who can choose who they work for and when. They can set their rates for their services.

Usually, a freelancer has no single, permanent client. However, over time relationships with clients can be formed, leading to the potential for recurring work.

Some examples of freelancing jobs include bookkeeping, virtual assistant, software developer, and graphic designer.

Why Would You Want to Be a Freelancer?

Freelancing isn’t for everyone. But if you decide to go the freelancing route, there are a few benefits.

Freelancing offers flexible hours, the ability to set your own rates, and may allow you to work from anywhere, including your home. Choosing who you want (or don’t want) to work for is also a huge benefit.

How to Become a Freelancer

Now you may be wondering, “That sounds great, but how do I make it happen?”

Everyone’s path to freelancing is going to look different, but in general, every path shares some similar steps.

1. Decide if Freelancing Is Right For You

Freelancing is not some mythical job that’s perfect for everyone. You need to determine what your skills are and what services you will offer your clients. You may need a business plan.

Being your own boss sounds great until you have to force yourself to be disciplined and work. As a freelancer, you only work when you’re paid. Sick leave and paid vacation aren’t a thing.

If you’re still up to the challenge, it’s time to move on to the next step.

2. Start Small

You don’t have to quit your day job right away and go full-time into freelancing. That’s a quick way to get frustrated and burnt out. Instead, start small and try freelancing only on weekends or evenings.

Give it a few months to see how you like it and how profitable you are. At that point, you can then consider going full-time into freelancing, or keep the same hours you have been keeping.

3. Find Your Platforms and Build Your Portfolio

Many freelancers choose to use one or more freelancing platforms for their job searches. Freelancing websites are popular choices because they aggregate freelancing jobs into one place, instead of having you search regular job sites and sift through job listings.

Once you decide on what platforms you will use, you will have to sign up and build your profile. Each site will be different, but you may be required to upload a picture of yourself, samples of work, and create a biography of who you are and what you offer.

Another option is to have clients come to you. You could build your own website and host your portfolio there. Having clients come to you may not produce work as immediately as freelancing websites, but it can allow you to cut out the middleman (and the fees they take), as well as build a long-term, ongoing relationship with clients.

4. Determine Your Pricing

You need to decide on what you are going to price each service you are offering.

For example, if you’re a graphic designer, how much will you charge for a logo? And how many revisions are allowed? What will each revision cost the client?

This is just one example, but determining your pricing is important regardless of what industry you work in. As a freelancer, you are your own employer, so you have to pay your own taxes (federal, state, and local).

Many people understand that freelancers pay their taxes, but that’s not all: they also pay into Social Security and Medicare. Employers typically deduct these funds each pay, but as a freelancer, it will be your responsibility.

As a self-employed individual, you will pay 12.4% and 2.9% for Social Security and Medicare. This is the combined employee and employer tax. You will want to take this additional tax into consideration when setting your rates.

5. Focus On Your Work

Once you start getting clients, it’s time to focus on delivering them the best possible experience. The most important part of freelancing is building and maintaining your relationships with clients. It’s a great way to get continuing work and possibly find additional work through word-of-mouth marketing.

Staying organized will be a constant requirement when freelancing. If you’re not organized with one client, you are going to struggle when handling multiple clients and projects.

Learning project management as a freelancer is an invaluable skill. The sooner you learn it, the better off your freelancing career will be.

Become the Best Freelancer You Can Be

That’s how to become a freelancer. It sounds easy, but that’s not always the case. Freelancing isn’t right for everyone, but it can be a rewarding side hustle or even a full-time career for the right person.

If you like this article be sure to check out more articles in our business section to help you become the best freelancer you can be.