What Does It Take to Become a Freelancer?

It’s no secret that more and more people are adopting a freelance lifestyle.

For some, freelancing is a matter of preference. They are attracted to the flexible life style that freelancers enjoy. Others are forced into freelancing out of desperation after they lose a more traditional job.

If you’re reading this post, you may even be wondering whether freelancing is right for you.

But what does it really take to become a freelancer?

We’ve already discussed the start-up costs for freelancing. But it takes more than spending money to get started as a freelancer. In this post, we’ll take a look at what else you need to become a freelancer. If you’re thinking about freelancing or new to freelancing, this is for you.


There is currently no such thing as a major in freelancing at most colleges and universities.

However, you can major in a discipline that lends itself to freelancing such as:

  • Business
  • Communications
  • Graphic Design
  • Information Technology
  • Journalism
  • Programming
  • Writing

Having a degree in your field can be beneficial to a freelancer since it immediately sets you apart from other freelancers in the same field who do not have a degree. But there are many successful freelancers who lack a degree.

So, while a degree is nice to have if you’re going to freelance, you can make it as a freelancer without a degree.


Work experience in your field is a definite advantage for a freelancer. In fact, many freelancers strike out on their own only after working in their area of expertise for someone else for several years.

Freelancers who already have experience are highly sought after since their skills have been proven in an actual work environment. In some freelancing fields, they also have an advantage because they can use their completed projects to build a portfolio.

If you already have work experience in your field and are planning on freelancing, be sure to get references and testimonies from former employers and colleagues.

Regardless of the amount of experience a potential freelancer has, he or she must also have marketeable knowledge or skills.

Some freelancers do start freelancing right out of school without ever working for anyone else. This can work well if the freelancer’s formal training includes an area that is sought after, but often an inexperienced freelancer struggles to get started.

Sales Ability

Most potential freelancers don’t realize it, but freelancing involves a huge amount of selling.

Every time that a potential client contacts you or you contact a potential client, you must sell him or her on why they need your services. This is where many would-be freelancers give up. Not everyone is able or willing to sell.

There is a stereotype some have that freelancers are not people-oriented. This is probably based on the fact that many freelancers work from home. However, a freelancer needs to be comfortable enough in their dealings with people that they can persuade others to use their services.

If you hate sales, you may have trouble as a freelancer.

Web Presence

As a freelancer, a web presence is crucial. Clients have to be able to find you before they can hire you.

For a typical freelancer, having a web presence means:

  • A blog or website
  • An online portfolio
  • Social media participation

In general, the more professional information a prospect can find out about you, the better. However, freelancers do need to be careful about their online reputation.

Also, online portfolios and blogs should be kept up to date with recent and relevant materials. If you fail to keep these updated, it will look like you don’t understand current trends.


Freelancing is not a quick fix. It can take weeks, or even months, to establish a successful freelancing business.

Even after a freelancer is getting regular work and ongoing projects, they are likely to experience work slowdowns from time to time. This is the infamous freelancing feast or famine cycle.

A freelancer needs to be able to stick with it and not quit when things get tough.

Your Turn

I’ve shared what I think it takes to become a freelancer. Now it’s your turn.

Feel free to add your own thoughts on what it takes to become a freelancer.

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