What Is A Freelancer?
If you are a freelancer, by definition you are working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company. Freelancing can also pertain to work that adds value directly to consumers. In another light, every entrepreneur is a freelancer, but not every freelancer is an entrepreneur. Let’s unpack this:
- WHAT types of work constitute a freelancing approach?
- graphic design
- programming/web design
- social media management
- virtual assistance
- and the list goes on…..
- and on…..
2. WHY should I become a freelancer?
- You work when you want
- Depending on the skill you are selling — you work where you want
- You do what you want
- There is a huge demand for freelancers
- You decide how much you get paid
- You choose who you work for: consumers, businesses, or both.
- Statistics show that business owners are happier than their employee ( 9-5) counterparts.
- and the list goes on….
3. Okay, so HOW do I become a freelancer?
Firstly, you must identify what your unique skill set is.
Are you good at marketing? Graphic Design? Photography?
(If you are young and don’t know what skill set you have that is marketable, listen to this podcast.)
Secondly, you must identify who your customer is.
Are you selling your services to a business that is outsourcing their work? Or are you selling your services directly to a consumer? Or both?
When you think about this, understand that there is a growing demand for freelancers, specifically within a business to business model. Companies are consistently increasing the amount of work that they outsource. Why? It is much cheaper to outsource work than it is to higher an employee. However, this hasn’t always been the case. Advancements in technology are the main catalyst for this growing ease of outsourcing work. The gig economy is growing rapidly and working with a team of other freelancers is becoming the norm.
Thirdly, you must establish yourself as a legal entity.
There is a lot that goes into this, deciding how to legally establish yourself is highly important for your plans in the future. Whether you establish yourself as an LLC, sole proprietorship, corporation, etc. is up to, but when thinking about why you would pick one over the others, ask yourself: How big do I want to grow this business? Do I want to go beyond self-employed and also be an employer? How could this decision affect the way I pay taxes? etc.
To find out more about the legalities of different business structures click here.
Fourthly, you must decide how much you are going to sell your services for.
A great way to get started is to do your research and see what other people in your industry are charging. Beyond that, there are two distinct directions you can take:
- You can market your services at a lower than market average price — If you are just starting out, one tactic to compete with the larger fish is to undercut them. If you can provide the same results to clients that the bigger fish do at a lower price, clients are more willing to choose you. It’s more bang for their buck. However, after a certain amount of time, you will no longer want to sell your services at a low price. Why? Price is directly correlated to the perceived quality of your work. If you offer too low of prices, clients will not take you seriously.
- You can market your services above market price, showing clients you are the real deal with premium results. The result of this if you get customers is a higher pay-out as well as high credibility in the industry. The downside of this is that if you don’t have a large portfolio of work to back up the premium price, you will potentially lose a lot of customers who do not trust you. If you are planning on selling at a premium price, you must back that price up with premium results.
Fifthly, grow your portfolio.
Now it is time to get customers and get experience. Your goal is to build the largest body of work that shows your unique skill set. Your portfolio should be diverse and of high quality. As you grow your portfolio you are growing your network and slowly building a reputation in the industry. The first clients are the hardest to get, but once you get those your body of work can speak for you.
Lastly, market, market, market.
Marketing is one of those huge umbrella fields. There is a plethora of knowledge and work that goes into being a successful marketer. It is a skill set that every freelancer should grow in. Especially if you are a one-person business, strategic marketing is essential. Things to consider:
Every business has a website now. As a freelancer, this is extremely important to have. It is where people can find you and learn more about your business. Your website should be an expression of your creativity and taste. Its job is to represent your personal brand so devote a lot of time into making it look great. Things to include in your website:
- About me page — this is the place to talk about the person behind the vision — why you do what you do and why you care. Share your origin story and connect with your potential clients on an emotional level.
- Your Portfolio — show your body of work or at the very least talk about the work you have done.
- Contact me page — allow interested clients to contact you to learn more about your company, your skill set, and hopefully land you a gig.
- Home page — this is the place to share about your company. Company branding is extremely important and your company should be a representation of who you are. Things to add to your homepage include a greeting to your reader, your logo, testimonials/reviews of your work, your mission statement, etc.
SEO ( Search Engine Optimization ) — Just having a website isn’t going to cut it. You must strategically title your pages and all meta elements and so much more. Without strategic actions that allow your website to be visible to others, your potential clients will never know you exist. There is a lot and I mean a lot that goes into successful SEO, but a great way to learn more is by clicking here.
Get involved on social media. Don’t just share your work on your website, share your work on all social platforms and leverage the power of social media. Build a body of followers on social media, and those that are interested in your work can potentially be converted into paying customers.
Why am I writing this?
Entrepreneurship is near and dear to my heart and I have the greatest desire to help others step away from the 9–5 grind and do work that truly makes them excited to wake up every morning. The benefits of entrepreneurship and freelancing are tremendous and it is worth a shot for everyone take in my opinion. I am also writing this for the individuals that know they don’t want to go to college, they see it as a waste of their energy because they know that they can build a much better signal by creating a body of work as opposed to relying on a worthless third-party credential to do it for them. If you are college opt-out or drop-out, now is the time to take your life in your own hands and build something bigger than yourself and create value for others. Now is the time to do what you love and get paid to do it. If the idea of entrepreneurship is scary, well that’s because it is. It is hard, if it were easy everyone would do it. Freelancing, on the other hand, is a less daunting step into the realm of being self-employed. When you are a freelancer you don’t have to have an innovative idea, you can start a company that the market has already validated and you know you can be successful in if you put in the work. So put in the work and start living the life you’ve always wanted!
Here is a list of resources other than college that can help you learn and develop the skills that interest you:
- Lambda School ( for the programmers ) — “Lambda School is a 9 month, immersive program that gives you the tools and training you need to launch your new career — from the comfort of your own home.”
- Praxis — “The Degree is Dead. You Need Experience. We’ll help you find and build your skills, then put them to work in a startup apprenticeship.”
- Sieo — “Sieo is a hybrid agency and business builder that focuses on helping companies start and grow. We are committed to helping entrepreneurs build their dreams at any stage of their journey.”
- UnCollege ( Gap Year Program ) — “TAKE YOUR EDUCATION INTO YOUR OWN HANDS. Find resources for self-directed learning, dropping out of college, and hacking your education.”