Kick-starting a successful freelance career: a step-by-step guide

Kick-starting a successful freelance career: a step-by-step guide

Thursday May 12, 2016,

4 min Read

With the increased usage of smartphones and Internet, freelancing has not only become a popular, but also a preferred way to work. Owing to the comfort, freedom and money that comes with it, freelance jobs are being increasingly preferred by the youth in the age group of 20-30 years in the country. As quoted by a Mumbai-based website freelancer, “I earn more than most of my MNC friends. I have complete freedom from bosses, from eight-hour-work rules and traffic. Why would I even dream of switching?” Sounds exciting, right?

Yes, freelancing is quite liberating. Yet, it is difficult and often scary. It’s definitely NOT easy! But a good start can make the journey smooth. Here is a simple guide to start your freelance career in the right way and make it work for you.


Decide on your skill set

Don’t limit yourself to a niche category. Discover your secondary skills and explore new areas to work. But DO NOT try to do everything. Chart out a reasonable skill set. A single genre might not be taken too seriously by a company/client.

Make a portfolio

It could be something as simple as a Facebook page, a blog or a Behance profile. Just make sure your skill set is showcased in the best possible way. It is not difficult to make an impactful portfolio for yourself and to get noticed.

Choose your path

First decide what you want out of this freelancing career – money, experience or contacts. Once that is decided, start pitching for work. But before you start doing that, it’s important to be clear about how you plan to execute the work. So decide the following beforehand:

  1. The number of days, and the number of hours in those days, you can allot for the job
  2. Type of clients you would want to work with
  3. Number of clients you can handle at a time
  4. Your preferred mode of communication with the clients

Your charges per workSince you are only starting off, it’s better to be practical about the charges. It is suggested to do some basic research about the freelance charges in your industry before deciding on what to quote to your clients.

Pitching to clients

Now that you are clear on how to go about it, start pitching. Potential clients can be found everywhere - use Google or social media to find them. Based on the work you offer, try pitching to as many prospective clients as possible. The farther your reach, the more are your chances of getting work faster. But DO NOT SPAM PEOPLE.

Pre-work communication

Sooner or later, you will hear back from at least one of the umpteen clients that you have tried to reach. This is when you need to close the deal. When sending your initial quote based on their requirements, it will be a good idea to send your ‘service terms’ along with it. This should include:

  1. Your payment terms: deposits and payment timelines
  2. Copyright for the work completed
  3. Mutual rights and responsibilities

Also, it is advisable to never do any work for free, even if you are keen on doing the work. Your readiness to compromise on payment will send out a wrong message to the clients.

Another important point to remember here is, if you think freelancing will free you from bosses, you couldn’t be more wrong. As a freelancer, your clients are your bosses! So choose them wisely.

Be serious and confident

Freelancing is almost like running a single-person business or to use a legal term, it is sole entrepreneurship. If you don’t take your business seriously, there are chances of an untimely collapse of the venture. Approach each client seriously. Be prepared to face criticism and for failures. Persist till your industry starts trusting your work blindly.

But once you have earned the trust, freelancing would seem like the best career option. So freelance aspirants, get started now!