Today I’m going to share some easy steps to become a digital freelancer in 2021-2022, based on my experience across various digital areas over the past decade. But first, let’s see what is what.
What is a (digital) freelancer?
A Freelancer is a self-employed, professional, an independent contractor that works for himself, rather than for someone else. A Digital Freelancer is this same person but which offers various digital services, that can range from mobile app development to product marketing campaigns; usually remotely, but also in-person in some cases.
Freelancing is like a practical introduction to online entrepreneurship, yet which has tremendous potential and can even become a lifestyle for you.
Why choose freelancing in 2021-2022?
With everything that’s happening today, technology wise or with the global pandemic, freelancing can be a solid stream of income, or at least a backup plan. I consider freelancing a must try for anyone that is active or would like to work as a professional in one of the various digital areas. I especially recommend it to those that offer services.
With freelancing you build for yourself, not for someone else’s company. You are in control. Freelancing is not about the clients, it’s about you. It grants you freedom, whether it’s about your projects, your schedule or the place you work at. No one tells you when to work or how to work.
After all, why work so hard if not to do what you want, when you want and how you want, right?
Be knowledgeable, Be an Insight Beast
If you don’t already have some skills related to the area you’d like to work in, getting them would be a great second step. The first step is insight, always insight. You should have a direction, meaning a clear understanding of what you’d like to do and what skills you should acquire.
Keep an open mind. Don’t just focus on your area. You should get some “side skills”, even basic ones, in areas closely related to yours. And if you’re strongly against this, at least have a basic understanding of how things work in those areas. I promise you, it will make your life easier.
For example, if you’re a Social Media Manager that relies on a Graphic Designer or a Photographer for content creation, you should acquire some Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom and even PowerPoint skills, in case you have to change or create something quickly on your own.
If you build websites with a CMS like WordPress, also be familiar with Wix and Shopify, don’t just know Woocommerce. Learn HTML, CSS, JS, and PHP so when you have something that you can’t adjust visually, you can get it done in an instant with code.
If mobile app development is your passion, don’t just focus on one platform like Android, get that Swift going too. Or at least use cross platform deployment tools. I don’t even have to mention familiarizing yourself with Google Play Console, or App Store Connect, right? Right?
You get the idea. Being knowledgeable will sell you fast, frequently and for a higher price.
So, how to actually start?
Start as early as possible. Whether or not you already have mastered some skills, if you can deliver a product or service that has traction, you don’t have time to waste.
At the beginning, focus on your portfolio, rather than your income, yet don’t work for free when you start out. You can work for “free” later, once you can afford it, but for a greater benefit.
Have on online portfolio that’s accessible. It can be your own website, and/ or on various platforms ranging from Instagram and Pinterest, to Behance and Dribble. Add everything to your portfolio, especially when you start out. Don’t wait till you do something “perfect”, it’s never going to happen. If it does happen, your standards should get some update. That being said, don’t underdeliver. Finish things in a way that brings you (and the client of course) satisfaction.
Do short term projects, so you can deliver quality and quantity in a shorter time.
Say “no” to projects that would not bring you pleasure. Say “yes” to projects that excite you, even if you are not confident about pulling it off. You’ll figure it out later.
Where to find clients?
I start with passive channels. Under passive channels I mean those where the clients find you an contact you because they’ve seen your product or read your article that shows them your knowledge.
They’re most likely online. Everyone’s online in one form or another. Build your online presence though your portfolio and activities on various platforms. Don’t settle only for social media. Go to Reddit, Behance, Quora, Medium and other platforms that can become your passive channels for finding work. Or better said, for work finding you.
As for the active channels, figure out where your potential clients are. They can be on platforms like Freelancer, Upwork and Fiverr. Find all the other ones that fit what you do and play the game.
Don’t forget about the “real world”. Tell everyone what you do, your relatives, friends, teachers, colleagues, classmates, can redirect people to you. Or they themselves might be in need of you.
Something important regarding clients, don’t immediately say “yes”. Have conversations with clients across a few days and figure out whether or not the specific client is someone you would like to work with, to avoid unpleasantries. A client with whom you can’t communicate with before you start the project, is going to make your life miserable during the work. There are so many potential clients that are open minded and show respect, you don’t need difficult ones, trust me.
That's a wrap
I hope you find this article helpful and be sure to to come back for more. Insight Beast focuses on digital entrepreneurship and we give you the actual stuff.