Starting out freelancing

The world is changing and the nature of work is changing. More and more people are choosing to freelance and get away from the 9 to 5 (which is often 8 to 6) and the associated rat race. We only have one life and we should get out there and live it.

Recently I have given some friends advice on getting in to freelancing. If you are looking to do something on the side or looking to build a location independent income stream, then here are a few pointers, based on my personal experience.

The principles

  1. There is no magic bullet or get rich quick. Making money freelancing takes time and effort to get reviews and a reputation, just like any other kind of work.
  2. There are so many snake oil salesmen on the internet… stay away. Don’t get in to schemes and don’t join anything that makes you pay to be part of it. Also, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Freelancing is different and the first thing that you need to do is dip your toes in the water. Get on a freelancing platform like Airtasker, Upwork etc and just start doing whatever people will let you do. Do it to the best of your ability at all times and get a good reputation. Hopefully once you have a good reputation and a portfolio, you can start to be more selective about your clients and the jobs that you take.
  4. Do what you enjoy, not just what will get you enough money to get by. When you are at home all day by yourself or you have to motivate yourself to stop staring at the view and get some work done, you want that work to be something that you enjoy.
  5. Make sure you have plenty of time to deliver what you say you will do and make it awesome. Communicate well with the clients – they really appreciate that. Don’t be afraid to clarify things.¬†Build trust with clients and be available and responsive.
  6. Start with small jobs that are fixed price and have short durations to get your reputation going.
  7. Find a way to stand out from the crowd, through offering extras, communicating well or doing something different.
  8. You will come across opportunities that seem unrelated. Each job you do will teach you something – sometimes you can only connect the dots later when you look back.
  9. There is a lot of money out there on the internet, you just need to find your niche to capture a small bit of it.
  10. Just start – don’t wait until you learn a new skill or until you have a portfolio. Just start taking on small jobs.

Creating a profile

Upwork is now limiting applications for freelancers in certain categories. If your profile is too general, you might be rejected. The easiest way to find a niche to start out in is to look at the jobs that are posted. When there is a job post for something that is only an hour old and there are 200 proposals, you stand little chance of getting the gig. Look at the type of jobs that you want to apply for and craft your profile from there.

Upwork is like real life. Your profile and your cover letter when you are applying for a job are like a resume and cover letter when applying for an offline job. The intention is to get an interview, where you can talk about the task, how your skills fit with the task and how you get on with the hirer.

Once you have been approved and have done a few jobs, you can evolve your profile based on what outcome you are looking for. If all goes well, you land up with long term clients!

Creating legitimacy

If you have an existing skill that you want to utilise online, gather examples of your work and make sure that you can make them available to prospective clients. Link your profile to your LinkedIn profile or your social media.

Just start

Whilst some people know exactly what they want to do, I didn’t. When I first started freelancing on Upwork and Airtasker, I bid low prices for various types of jobs. Some I enjoyed and succeeded at and some were a struggle. Each job that I took I put in 100% effort and made sure that the client was happy. This led to good reviews and more clients.

Get Help

If you are a friend of mine, just get in touch and I am happy to provide help and advice. If we haven’t had the pleasure of being acquainted, please feel free to get in touch to arrange a coaching session. I would love feedback and questions so please contact me on Facebook or at