Five Ways to Start a Freelance Business Right Now

starting-lineHave you been meaning to start freelancing on a part-time or full-time, but keep putting it off because you think that starting a freelance business is too much work?

While it’s true that freelancing can be a lot of work, the good news is that you don’t have to do everything all at once. If you have a full-time job or do not need full-time freelancing income right away, you can ease into freelancing a little bit at a time–we’ll show you how to get started.

(Even if you do need a full-time freelancing income, you need to start somewhere. This post can help you find that starting place.)

This post describes five easy steps that you can take right away that will put you closer to your freelancing dream. You can choose to start your freelancing business with just one, or all, of these steps.

Easy Steps to Start Your Freelancing Business

Many experts will advise you to plan the start of your freelancing career carefully. You’ve probably read some of those articles. We’ve even published a few of those articles here on Freelance Folder. In general, they offer a lot of good advice.

While we are definitely not against planning and being careful, at some point you need to stop planning and start doing. You need to jump in to the freelancing pool and get your feet wet. That’s what this post is for.

Are you ready to start freelancing? If so, then it’s time to move up to the starting line and get ready to go.

Here are five easy action items that will jumpstart your freelancing business:

  1. Develop an online presence as a freelancer. You can’t get work as a freelancer if no one knows that you are available for projects. One of the best ways to let people know that you freelance is through your blog or portfolio site. If you don’t have a website already, it’s time to set one up.
  2. Add freelancing availability to your social media profile. For many freelancers, one of their best sources of clients is the people they already know. If you keep in touch with friends, family, former classmates, or colleagues through social media then you need to make sure that your social media profile includes the fact that you are willing to take on freelance work. Also, many organizations now use social media to recruit freelancers for projects.
  3. Build a professional profile on a bidding site. While bidding sites may not always offer the best opportunities, if you understand how they work it is possible to land some good jobs there. Remember, many successful freelancers got their start by first finding work on a bidding site. When your profile is complete, don’t forget to bid on some projects.
  4. Find freelance job opportunities online and apply for them. You can use online tools such as iGoogle to search for and find online job postings. The more projects that you apply for, the more likely it is that you will be selected for a project. (Repeat this step of searching for and applying for jobs online frequently.)
  5. Offer to do something for free. While typically working for free is not a very good idea, when you are just starting out as a freelancer taking on a project that you can use for your portfolio and as a sample of your work is not always a bad thing. Also, getting involved in a project (even a gratis one) can help get you into the mindset of a freelancer and give you the momentum you need to keep going.

In addition to the suggestions that we’ve made in this post, you might wish to know some more details about getting started as a freelancer. Remember, the steps that you just took got you started. To succeed it’s also important to continue to learn and apply that knowledge to your freelancing business.

How Did You Get Started as a Freelancer?

We’ve listed some initial steps that you can take to start your freelancing business.

What steps did you take to get started as a freelancer? Share your experiences in the comments.

Image by robertdx


  1. says

    Those are five very important points to get into freelancing business.

    But with respect to point #3, I am still reluctant, because I feel they are low paying projects which require hours of work from your end. When it comes to point #5, I agree to that completely. I myself started in the freelancing world by doing Volunteer website designing for NPOs. That was my first step towards point #1, portfolio site development.

  2. says

    Thanks everyone! Remember, regarding point 3 — that’s just a suggestion for where you might want to start. It’s not necessarily where you should end up. It can be a quick way to get a gig, though.

    John — Thanks for your eagle eye! :-) I fixed it.

  3. says

    Thanks for the article. I’m in a tricky situation of umming and arrring about whether to do the freelance thing full time. I’ve applied for part time jobs but to no avail. I’m not really in a position to give up my regular income. I think you make some good points that I should build what I can in the brackground and do some smaller projects over the evenings and weekend if possible for a reduced fee or indeed free to build experience and a portfolio. Good stuff. You’ve really sharpened my thinking.

  4. says

    Great suggestions here, Laura! I’m a big proponent of starting part-time if you currently have a full-time job and need that paycheck (which includes most of us). I moonlighted for 27 months before I had the steady income, clients and savings I felt I needed to quit my day job. It was HARD work juggling my regular job and my part-time biz…but it was worth it! I gave my 2 weeks’ notice with full confidence.

    You’re right — taking action on your plan is incredibly important. You also need to realize that your goal may not materialize exactly as you envisioned it. That’s OK. Just keep working towards that goal. And make sure to take time every month to step back and see what’s working in your business-building efforts…and what’s not. Then, adjust as necessary. Too many of us (and I was guilty myself) work so hard on the day-to-day tasks that we lose sight of the bigger picture and fail to make those critical mid-course corrections.

  5. says

    Thanks Ed!

    You’ve got some really good advice. Flexibility is very important for freelancers, so is not quitting when things don’t go as you anticipated…

    So many would-be freelancers are stuck at the starting line, afraid or not knowing how to take that first step. Hopefully, this post can help them make their first move as a freelancer.

  6. says

    I think I’m going to begin freelance writing again using some of the job boards.

    I previously landed a few jobs, paid well and was a great experience. I’d love to have a couple jobs under my belt before launching my portfolio site, this way I could list freelance writing as an extra :)

    I don’t want to wait too long either, it’s very easy to put off getting started but at least I’d have stuff to do in the meantime.

  7. says

    hi great info keep up the good work here is something that put to work in what I do from day to day! There are several ways to market your network marketing business. Some of the most frequently chosen methods to market online are through online forums, blogging and article writing. Often, the reason why people choose network marketing is because finances are limited

  8. says

    Wonderful post laura. Number 1 is soooo important. When we are dealing with our Clinets, We really push them to start being more social with their customers and having an On-line presence.

    Good Job

  9. says

    Thanks for this list Laura!

    I started freelancing while I still have my day job. Then after a month, when I am getting referrals and return clients, I quit my job and went full time. It was one of the most amazing things that has happened to me.

  10. says

    Starting you own business has a lot of pitfalls and many start ups fail because they are overwhelmed by back ofice hassles, such as billing, collecting, bookkeeping and taxes. I have recently become a client of BOTH USA, a company that provides complete back office suppoer for self-employed professionals and freelancers. I can not begin to tell you what relief (and extra time) this has given me. I love doing what I do ( I am a freelance marketing consultant), BOTH handles everything else.

  11. says

    At the beginning of this year I have made the transition to full-time freelancing. However, I have not seen any business and I have been seriously marketing myself. I feel that it will come soon enough. I have work that I have done in the past and I am open to any jobs that come my way. I have made partnerships with people in my industry. Should I have more exposure online to gain more leads? I have used Craigslist in the past but all the jobs I got from that have just been a hassle. It seems people who want design done go on there and are under the impression that freelancers want to work for free. Just because we are self-employed does not mean that we arent entitled to profit. Maybe someone has a good suggestion of something I am missing?

  12. says

    Thanks to everyone who is sharing their story about how they started as a freelancer. Best wishes to all of you.

    I hope that others who are considering freelancing will find this thread helpful/inspiring.

  13. says

    Hi Ryan!

    Craigslist isn’t always the best place to look for leads, although there are a few good jobs there. Your best bet is looking in many different places. Have you tried the iGoogle search yet? Also, you may try tweeting your availability. Depending on who is following you (use a hashmark # to get a wider audience) you may get some nibbles.

    Best wishes.

  14. Sucheta says

    Hey Thanks Laura for putting up the to the point list.
    I started freelancing with point #3. While waiting for projects to come in worked up on point #1 then gradually moved on with my social networking friends into freelancing.

  15. says

    Brilliant post!
    I really had a hard time having a day job and staying up late dedicating long hours to my little freelance operation.

    But what really worked for me was getting prepared during those torturing months and saving money just in case it got rough when starting out.

    But it was all worth it: now I’m doing what I love, I’ve recovered a great deal of my mental health and more importantly I’m always in a good mood spending more time with my wife and kids.

    Thanks for sharing

  16. says

    Great article as usual I just disagree with the bidding websites. I can’t be reliant on an income where my work is undervalued and I have to try and compete against other freelancers on such a vicious marketplace.

  17. says

    Thanks Laura for this useful post plus the comments. Am sure this will help beginners. Am a beginner myself. I started as a free intern of a highly successful internet entrepreneur. Now am working as his paid intern and am so grateful for all the help he has been giving me.


  18. says

    Thanks for this, it’s always good to be reminded of these points. As of next week my full time working job will turn part-time in order to accommodate my freelance work. I was able to test the waters in Sept last year because a friend who was a member of a local town yahoo group, recommended my services and as a result I received lots of enquiries through this. I then emailed local web agencies to see if they wanted any freelancers, and a few showed interest. So since then I have worked on my own site and trying to spread the word, I’m also doing a free site for a local charity. I’m hoping this will give me the local publicity that I need. Fingers crossed it all goes well!

  19. says

    I begin my freelancing career at the end of March and I have an agreement with the design agency I currently work for to freelance for a few days a month for a set amount.

    Hopefully, this safety net of money will allow me a bit of leeway with finding clients so I don’t go mad while I go cold turkey!

    Wish me luck!

  20. says

    I started freelance web development on the side while in college, 15 years ago, and have never really quit doing it on the side. I’ve had day jobs all along. Now I’m finally going full time freelance, and I have 15 years worth of clients, relationships, experience, and wisdom. It’s fantastically refreshing to read through lists of reasons NOT to freelance and NOT find myself there. It feels like a very smooth transition when the work and clients are already there.

  21. says

    What i read about freelancing tought me a lot i think i might stand a chance if i try it out,though i dont have enough information on how and who to challange,please keep me posted.

  22. says

    One thing is the fact one of the most widespread incentives for utilizing your card is a cash-back or even rebate supply. Generally, you’re going to get 1-5% back upon various acquisitions. Depending on the card, you may get 1% back on most acquisitions, and 5% again on expenses made going to convenience stores, gasoline stations, grocery stores and ‘member merchants’.


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