How to Freelance

Think you’re ready for freelancing? You’re certainly not alone. Every day, new Internet websites are springing up, devoted to telling you how to sell your writing, your website design, your public relations skills – and almost any other creative abilities for which there is a demand.

Freelance Many Skills

Every day, customers are on the prowl for someone to provide freelance talent. The list of freelanced work includes:

This is just the beginning. As companies are cutting personnel and benefits, more and more people are thinking about freelancing their skills. They like the idea of being their own boss, vacationing when they want to – or just taking the kids to the park when the urge strikes. Working from your home office, just you and your computer, sounds very appealing, but like any small business start-up, it has its downside. Let’s take a look at what you’re going to need to enter the world of freelancing.

Freelancing Essentials

As a would-be freelancer, you need to sit down and make a list of what you’ll need to get a freelancing career underway.

  • Write down the pros and cons of trading in your day job for freelancing. Only you can decide if you should try it on a part time basis or dive in fulltime. Each person’s skills, resources and living situation are different. Give this decision a lot of thought, with input from people you trust and respect.
  • Determine exactly what skills you’re going to market. If you’re a writer, will you limit yourself to writing articles for web content, or will you also market yourself as a speechwriter and copywriter? Once you’re made your decision, your website and marketing materials must reflect just those talents.
  • Determine how you will reach your market. More and more, networking sites such as LinkedIn have become places to exchange information about finding markets and customers for specific freelance skills.
  • While you’re building an online portfolio of your best work, make sure you’ve got adequate income to provide for your living expenses. It can take several months to well over a year to build a sufficient reputation to get by on freelancing contracts alone.
  • Prepare to spend a lot of your time combing through websites, blogs and networking sites in order to refine your marketing strategy. The plus is that the more you search, the more savvy you will become about pricing, marketing and demand.

Sometimes it’s challenging to know where to begin looking for a freelance job on the Internet. If you’re a beginner at freelance writing, look at sites like Helium.com and eHow.com. These sites encourage beginners (or those who just want to brush up on their skills). You can write, critique others’ efforts, and network with fellow beginning freelancers.

Bidding sites like Elance are a great way to snag contracts for writing, website design, and graphic art. Many other sites offer bidding only for specific skills, such as Get a Freelancer. This site is for website designers from all over the globe. Search engines and social network sites provide modes of searching out markets for freelancers in other areas of work. Bidding sites allow you to build credentials for your work on the projects that you win. Paying a slight commission to participate in bidding is a small price to pay for gaining a good reputation as a freelancer.

Additional Steps for Beginning Freelancers

As you begin your part-time freelancing, you’ll want to take additional steps to insure your success.

  • Start getting the word out locally concerning your new venture. Besides letting friends and family know, set aside a small budget for local advertising. Consider placing a small add in the phonebook, have brochures and business cards printed, and look for opportunities to give talks about the freelance world (and your own specialty).
  • Some freelancing skills are more Internet-friendly than others. If you are freelancing in the area of lawn and landscaping services, you’ll need to do more local advertising than a web content writer. But a website is a must for all freelancers.
  • During the time that you are freelancing on a part-time basis, keep putting money away. This will pay your bills while you’re making the transition from part-time to fulltime freelancer.
  • Have a creative space set up, either at home or in leased quarters.
  • If accounting is not your forte, think about hiring a bookkeeper for one or two days a week. Hire an attorney to work out a standard contract for you, and to advise you about selecting a business format (e.g. sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.)

As you make your way into the world of freelancing, stop and think how life will change for you if you go into freelancing fulltime. Undoubtedly, you will have periods of “feast or famine,” and you’ll leave behind the security of a 9-to-5 job. On the other hand, you’ll be running your own show, doing work that you love, and free at last from that cramped cubicle. Ultimately, it’s your call. Just remember that you never really know how well you can do something until you give it a try.

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