8 things every freelancer needs before they start

8 min read
Ahmed Elnemr

For certain industries and sectors, being a freelancer can be liberating and lucrative. Especially because you get to work freely from anywhere, you don’t have specific working hours and you make money at the same time. Whether you are a web developer, application programmer, graphic designer, content creator, a digital marketing expert or you have any other skills you can offer as an online service, working as a freelancer may be just right for you. This article explains eight important things that you need to know to get started as a freelancer and includes the most popular freelancing websites you can sign up for today.

8 pointers to start your journey as a freelancer

In order to be a successful freelancer and to start receiving a generous amount of jobs, you’ll need some pointers and tips to be dynamic and functional. The question now is: What do you need to start your journey as a freelancer? We’ve compiled 8 pointers to help you get a kick start.

1. Create a Business Model Canvas

The idea was developed by the Swiss economic theorist Alexander Osterwalder and the computer scientist Yves Pigneur in 2005, and it has been gaining popularity ever since.

BMC it is a mean to clearly present your business idea on a piece of paper in order to visualize your business model, detect weaknesses and test whether it will work or not. As a freelancer this visual method will help you realize important insights about the clients you serve, the value propositions offered, and how you can make money.

The business model diagram is divided into nine main components:

  1. Value Proposition
  2. Customer Segments
  3. Channels
  4. Customer Relationship
  5. Revenue Stream
  6. Key Resources
  7. Key Activities
  8. Cost structure
  9. Key Partners

You can read more about this subject and download the business model canvas through this website and try it yourself!

2. Learn marketing, sales and negotiation skills

You need to have marketing skills to showcase your services. Your negotiation skills are very crucial too, as they will help you discuss and arrange the best agreement for both parties. Your skills will help you prepare for interviews and research the size and history of the client's business.

In order to ace your interviews and negotiate the best deals, you need to be fully prepared.  Below are some pointers that you need to prepare before your encounter with a client:

  • Research the client
  • Have a clear understanding of the job required
  • When it comes to finances you need to determine the highest and lowest rates you can accept
  • After the meeting take notes of what was said and document the agreement that you’ve reached.

Always remember to keep these notes so you can go back to them whenever you need to.

positive sign freelancer

3. Learn different technical skills

Let’s assume that there is a client who wants to create a website or a mobile application for his business, and he doesn’t prefer to deal with more than one person to do the job. So, you need to either expertise in different technical skills to fulfill the whole project on your own or you can form a team to help you. This means that you need to network and communicate with programmers from different fields.

No matter what your skills are as a freelancer, my advice to you is to never stop learning. Just because you’re an expert in certain programming languages and tools, it doesn’t mean that you stop right where you are. You need to get used to self-development and diversifying your skills and remember that the learning possibilities are endless.

With that said, you also need to know your limits and capabilities for any given project. Trying to do everything on your own on a big project may eventually lead to you burning out, missing deadlines or delivering a not up to par end product. That’s why it’s also important to slowly but surely build a network of likewise working individuals with different capabilities and skills that you can pass off or share parts of a project when it’s necessary.

Related: The key skills for success that every entrepreneur needs

4. Market yourself and document your previous works

One of the most important things you need to do is to market yourself through different platforms and channels. For starters, you can purchase your own domain name and direct it to a host and launch your website. In addition to showcasing your portfolio and previous work, you can also add a blog to your website and a section for previous customers to write their testimonials about you. Moreover, you can add an email subscription section to get your audience to sign up and you can start sending them regular newsletters with your latest work and news. Finally, you can start a YouTube channel to show your services, create educational and inspirational videos and don’t forget to link it to your personal website.

There is an important note: If you don’t have previous works, you should create your own projects and put together a portfolio. You should also make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date, because many of the companies looking for a freelancer look at their LinkedIn profile first.

5. Offer free samples and demos

Another form of marketing is occasionally offering free demos on your website to attract customers to try out your services which will help you attract more customers and widen your exposure.

As for your existing customers, always try to leave a good impression. Be polite on your correspondence, finish your tasks on time, deliver what you promise and be professional.  This way you’ll have a good chance to either work with them again, or they could recommend you to others.

6. Don't set low rates to win customers over

One of the most common mistakes made by new freelancers is to set low rates per hour or per task; hoping that this might actually attract more clients. As a matter of fact, this is not true as your rate should reflect the quality of your work and your experience.

When you’re setting your rate, set a suitable price for yourself based on the quality and experience level of the services that you provide. Other criteria are the number of hours you work, your expenses and the technical support you offer.

7. Not all opportunities are appropriate

If you receive more than one attractive offer at the same time, be careful not to fall into the trap of accepting all offers at the same time. This will only lead to you overloading yourself and you’ll feel overwhelmed by the amount of work, and you might gradually lose your good reputation. This will also affect and compromise the quality of your work and will eventually lead to delays and not meeting the deadlines and you will lose the creative aspect of your business because of lack of time.

As a freelancer, if you receive more than one project at a time; you’ll need to asses the requirement of each project, compare your skills to the requirements and then decide if you can accept them or will it overwhelm you. You can use apps like Trello which will help you plan, track and set deadlines for your projects.

8. Learn from your mistakes

You may begin to work on a certain project and then realize that the work you did wasn’t done properly. At that point, you need to stop and reassess your work and figure out what went wrong. This will help you realize your mistakes so you wouldn’t repeat them in the future.

So, ask yourself: Am I communicating properly with my clients? Am I getting paid a fair amount for the work I do? Am I signing a contract with the clients? Am I asking for a down payment before I start working? Am I using my time properly? Am I meeting all the deadlines?

You need to assess your weak points and turn them to lessons to be learnt and opportunities to offer a better service for your clients.

Where should you look?

To get started, here are the best websites to start your journey as a freelancer, where you can create an account and start looking for tasks and projects. The most popular freelancing websites to start are:

  • Freelancer.com: Over 31 million users.
  • Upwork: More than 17 million users.
  • Fiverr: Over 7 million users.

In this article we have mentioned eight important points to get you started as a freelancer. For more information and inspiration, you can also read the following guide that explains everything related to freelancing.