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.

Education

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.

Experience

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.

Persistence

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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Comments

  1. says

    After doing research in the Art Degrees at the local State Universities, I came to the conclusion that the degrees in some of the arts were nothing more that degrees in freelancing. Some of the Universities had courses in subjects called “Freelancing”. They even had classes in a subject called “Internship”. (You know where they go to an organization and work for nothing)
    They pay tuition for that class.

  2. says

    I agree completely with you.

    For someone who is new to freelancing getting work/projects can be quite a challenge. Few important things for a getting a good head start in freelancing in my experience,
    Try built a profile describing the nature of work, relevant past experience (if any), certifications linked to the services you offer. If you are a writer, photographer its good to have some sample of you work which can be shown/displayed

    If there is no specific past experience that you carry, do not worry, however be realistic of the prices that you quote. You may start with something very reasonable. With experience you can quote better rates.

    Get your self registered on some good freelancing websites. I believe this is the most important as projects are spread far and wide and you stand a chance to get them from any part of the world. One such good website with abundant projects that I could probably recommend is http://www.freelanceindia.com

    Be focused, sincere and diligent work surely will come in

  3. says

    Maintaining a freelance business can be challenging without the support of some clever marketing ideas to get your brand out there…..Finally,
    Loura, Great Work!
    Thanks for posting this.

  4. Michael says

    Hi all,

    thats a very good discussion about freelancers and how they get work after they start first time into that business. I made same several experience and it was a tough time, but if people dont give up than the time is coming which it payed out. A good Freelancer Site which open a view Days before and which is http://app-lancer.com , register there didn’t cost for us anything so maybe some projects will get trough that. All the best to all others here.

  5. says

    Very informative article. More and more of those in our industry (web design) are going the freelance route. One thing I often find is that larger companies will flat out refuse to work with freelancers (unless you’ve really established your reputation). Lastly it would have been interesting if you would have touched on how freelances could use services like Odesk or elance to promote themselves.

    Again thanks for the great article.

  6. says

    It is a matter of awareness- it’s not just important in our modern times but as it has been throughout history, as soon as people start realizing how to utilize their talents and skills; possibilities shall arise.

  7. Mark Katavice says

    Thanks Laura. Its true what you say about freelancer’s life style.Can you give me any tips, that is there any way to be a freelancer for a skilled easy writer.

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