How to Become a Freelancer in 2024

Becoming a freelancer allows you to take back control of your time and align your work to your lifestyle

How to Become a Freelancer in 2024
Photo by Fatos Bytyqi on Unsplash

The Covid-19 pandemic gave the world of freelancing room to expand. Many started working from the comfort of their homes and realized a new way to work - and live! That’s why there are now 1.56 billion self-employed workers in the world, according to the World Bank.

As long as you know how to enter the market, there's a whole world of opportunities out there for you.

In this article, we'll cover the steps required to start and build a successful freelancer career in 2024.

1. Define Your Niche and Service Offering

Freelance work is about monetizing your skills. In essence, you're using your skills to create a service that will solve problems for clients. So, if you're going out to become your own boss, you have to define what you're offering.

Defining Your Niche

Throughout your career, you've no doubt developed one or two skills. While it'll be tempting to put all these skills to use, one rule to being a successful freelancer is focusing on a niche.

So, if you're a digital marketing expert and web developer, don't be tempted to start a web design business and a digital marketing agency.

Choose the skill you're better at and focus your energy on that business. Then, your other skills can be used to further your freelancing career. For example, if you're going to start a web design business, your digital marketing skills will help you promote yourself online.

Understanding Your Clients

Knowing who your clients are will help you define your service offerings and if you're up for the challenge. 

Checking out how your service offerings will serve your clients helps you determine your worth and how you'll approach your freelancing career. This way, you'll understand:

  • How much you'll scale shortly
  • Where to source for clients
  • What kind of marketing ideas to use
  • And how much research do you have to conduct

Building Your Customer Personas

Understanding your customer base is different from making assumptions about who'll need your services. Instead, it's about understanding their motivations and needs.

You have to look at your ideal market's demographics such as gender, age, occupation, education level, and family structure. These details will help you identify what they need, how they'll respond to your message, and how much they'll be willing to spend.

But that's not all. You also have to evaluate your customers as real human beings with emotions, pain points, wants, hobbies, and lifestyles. 

These are details you should include in your buyer persona. The buyer persona is a complete profile on each customer.

Since you're a freelancer, you'll need this dossier since you'll be communicating with your clients on a one-on-one basis.

Even if you're dealing with businesses, you have to research intimate details about them. 

For example, if you're a digital marketing expert and want to land a SaaS startup, you have to research the decision-makers at the company, including their client base.

Know Your Target Industry

Your target industry includes your main competitors and the entire market landscape. You have to know the kind of industry you're heading into to know how you navigate things like marketing and even recruitment (in case you need to outsource). 

You can't follow the same approach you use in finance with digital marketing.

So, research the top players in your industry and find out how they do things, from engaging with clients to billing and social media engagements.

2. Create Your Portfolio

You should look at your portfolio as your CV and your clients as the recruiters that will evaluate you. 

Your portfolio is a collection of your previous works that will show clients your level of competence and the type of work you offer.

The best way to showcase your previous work and list your services is by using a personal or business website.

The website should contain all the services you offer, your previous works, and client testimonials.

If you don't have clients yet, you can start by including your previous experiences, including roles you held as an employee. Make sure you also add professional courses you've taken that are relevant to your services.

3. Know Your Worth - Develop Your Pricing Template

New freelancers often make the costly mistake of undervaluing their services. They believe that lowballing their rates will attract clients because they are still looking for their first gig.

You shouldn't be afraid to charge more than you currently earn as an employee as long as you're offering top-quality services.

That said, you must set your prices so you're prepared to send out proposals and can stand your ground.

But before you set those prices, you must answer some questions:

  • What is your experience level? While you don't want to undersell yourself, you can't charge the same as seasoned professionals in your industry.
  • Are you charging hourly? taking a commission? charging per word, or charging per project?
  • What's the going market rate? Do your due diligence to discover how much other freelancers are charging for the same service.
  • Will your prices cover the cost of resources needed for each job and your living expenses, and still leave you with profit?

Always review your prices as you continue to accumulate experience. This way, you're able to scale your business and focus on clients that meet a specific standard.

Unless you want to really expand your business and hire other professionals, there's so many clients that you can handle.

4. Find Clients

It's time for the main part of the business. You won't have a freelance career without building a clientele. Thankfully, the Internet is a great place to find clients as long as you know where to look.

Start Networking

Even before you start your freelance career, you should tell everyone, from friends and family to colleagues and acquaintances, about what you're setting out to do. 

Advertise your next steps on your social media pages to get the word out. Doing that will likely land you your first client. It could be a supportive friend, family member, or random social media follower.

Leverage Social Networks and Job Boards

LinkedIn is a resourceful platform for freelancers. You get to connect with peers and other professionals and can reach out to business owners for jobs. It's also a powerful job board where companies and professionals advertise job openings and collaboration opportunities. Being active on LinkedIn also exposes you to a large professional community open to hiring freelancers based on their activities on the site.

You can also use job sites like Indeed, Upwork, and Freelancer to search for jobs. You should note that sites like Upwork will take a commission off every job you execute.

Use Digital Marketing

It's not enough to have a website. You have to market yourself as well. To do that, go a bit into search engine optimization to boost your site's ranking on Google. 

You can create a blog for this purpose. Use the right keywords, cover interesting topics, and engage in guest posting.

Guest posting not only increases your blog's authority but also exposes your work.

You can also leverage email marketing to reach more potential customers and sell yourself.

5. Develop and Diversify Your Skills

Sticking with the skill sets with which you started the business is not a great idea. Every industry evolves with new skills facilitated by technology. You have to always upskill to grow your freelance businesses and maintain relevance.

You should also have access to the required tools and software resources, such as a time tracker and project management tool, to deliver the best services.

Every industry has different growing needs. So, always make sure you're researching the latest trends in your industry so you're the one proposing innovative services to your clients instead of playing catch-up. 

6. Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Every Client

Your clients will always be the reason you excel as a freelancer. And as it turns out, you'll spend five times more gaining new clients than retaining old ones. Also, increasing your client retention rates by 5% helps you boost profits by up to 95%.

So, ensure you maintain a healthy relationship with all your clients by supporting them after every service and being available to answer questions.

You should also offer them exclusive offers from time to time. You might want to offer discounts, but sometimes, offering an extra service as an add-on can also be effective.

Continue Building Your Brand

Once you've built your freelance business, you have to maintain and grow it by upskilling, keeping up with industry trends, marketing your brand, and maintaining a healthy relationship with your clients.