5 Essential Steps for Building a Successful Freelancing Career


What's better than being your own boss? Nothing, really. You get to take on work that you actually enjoy, keep all the profits for yourself, and choose your own work schedule. It's a dream come true. This dream, however, can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don't know what you're doing. It's a big decision to become a freelancer. You're responsible for every aspect of your work including finances and client relations. Are you thinking about becoming a freelancer?

Here are 5 essential steps for building successful freelancing career:

1. Market your skill To become a freelancer, it's not enough to simply offer a skill. You have to also market your skill. When you're a freelancer, you are your brand, and branding can make or break your freelancing career. What sets you apart from other freelancers? You might be a great writer, but the freelance market is filled with a million other great writers as well. Find a way to distinguish yourself from the competition, and market the hell out of your skill.

2. Build successful business relationships with clients One of the hardest thing about freelance work is finding clients--especially long-term clients. Normally, if a client needs support for a long-term (or ongoing) project, then the client would just hire someone to officially join their team. This means that you need to operate based on the assumption that every client is a short-term client with potential for becoming a long-term client. Treat every client with respect, deliver great work, and foster an excellent business relationship with every client. This will help build the foundation for returning or long-term business relationships.

3. Establish your payment schedule and methods Freelancing is not without its risks, and one of the biggest risks is not receiving payment for delivered work. Protect yourself by having your client sign a standard contract, which outlines a general timeline of your payment schedule, deliverables, and accepted payment methods. For payment methods, consider using a reputable payment processor such as PayPal. It's easy to use, and it's free to open a PayPal account. You can link your bank account to your PayPal account, and you can even send out invoices through PayPal. If you'd rather not deal with contracts, then you should utilize freelance job market services such as upwork, fiverr, taskrabbit, and etc. These services allow you to sell your services, and they'll handle the payment process for you. Just keep in mind that they may assess commission fees.

4. Manage Your Work Schedule When you work for an employer, the employer tends to set your work schedule for you. As a freelancer, you set your own work schedule. This is both a blessing and a curse. Effective time management can be challenging especially if you're a new full-time freelancer or if you're balancing freelancing with working a regular full-time or part-time job. Manage your time effectively by setting a work schedule, and sticking with it. Be a self-starter, hold yourself accountable, and strive to be productive during your work hours. Time is money, and this is especially true for freelancers.

5. Learn to Take Breaks On the other end of the time-management spectrum is the risk of overworking yourself. When you're starting out as a freelancer, you're full of energy and ambition, and you may be motivated to constantly work, work, and work. You may be eating less, sleeping less, and staying wired to your phone or email all the time. This isn't healthy nor is it a fulfilling way to work or live. Allow yourself to take breaks, and schedule time off for yourself. Being a freelancer doesn't mean that you no longer have days off. Freelancing means that you get to control how you work and when you work.

Freelance work can be tough, but it's truly rewarding as well. There's nothing better than doing great work that you love and getting paid for it--all on your own terms.

Are you a freelancer? What do you think is the most important rule that all freelancers should live by?