Is freelancing easy? is a question I come across often on the Internet and the answer is yes, provided you give yourself time and more importantly have a level head. Freelancing like any other career demands a certain degree of patience, professionalism and sincere efforts if you want to stand a chance of making something decent out of it in the long term.
If you are looking for quick money or lack patience and conviction, freelancing is not meant for you. Having said that, lets understand and address the question is freelancing easy?
When I started my freelancing career, there was no one to guide me, but I still made my way through hurdles, obstacles and I can definitely say, yes freelancing is easy if you make it an integral part of your life. what’s important though is to be realistic about setting the right goals and finding means of reaching them.
I find ‘rush hour’ attitude as a common pattern in today’s generation of aspiring freelancers and most of them fade out in 3 months or at the most 6 months, but fail to realize what made them quit sooner!
If you happen to be one of them, or want to stay away from that crowd, you need to ask these questions before signing up on freelancing platforms such as freelancer.com
- Do I have enough skills to get started with freelancing?
- Are my communication skills decent enough to write quality proposals?
- Do I learn basics to begin with or do I plunge into freelancing world and learn as I go along?
- Do I need a mentor that can guide me through the initial process or can I be on my own?
- Do I need to do any certifications to improve my chances of being hired by clients?
- Do I need to pursue freelancing as a part time or full time career?
- Can I make enough money to sustain my level of enthusiasm?
- Is my family going to be supportive with my decision?
- Do I need to continue with my studies whilst doing freelancing?
Once you find answers to these questions, its time you made a honest assessment of how you need to get started. If you have time on hand and the patience to learn everything by yourself without getting guidance, you can give it a try and see how your freelancing career shapes up. Set some short term goals and see if you are able to meet them.
Given the award ratio stats on a website such as freelancer.com where top freelancers place 21 bids before getting a paid client, you can determine how you must approach your bidding and find relevant projects to apply.
There are quite a few freelancers that started tasting success in early stages, but this has got to do with a combination of factors such as their previous track record, relevance of projects applied, their communication skills, their ability to connect with prospect clients and most important of all having an optimized profile.
However, majority of aspiring and new freelancers struggle to get response, let alone projects from customers due to the ranking criteria which gives more visibility and exposure to top freelancers. To add, customers prefer hiring someone that has a decent to proven track record, does it mean you stand no chance?
Its a difficult question to answer whether aspiring freelancers can penetrate competition, so what I suggest is you breakdown your efforts into 3 stages
Stage 1 is 1 month of orientation and during this phase, you spend time on watching videos, reading articles such as these and referring to help, faq section on freelancing websites. Make your notes, work on each of those points and do your homework before you start identifying relevant projects.
Stage 2 is when you actually start bidding on freelancing projects and this is the most crucial phase when you need to give it your best and be as aggressive as you can be applying for maximum number of projects.
Stay connected and be quick to respond in case a prospect client gets in touch because if you are late to respond, that lead might go to some other freelancer because customers don’t wait for long to hear back from shortlisted freelancers.
Assuming you got your first paid client, its time to focus on execution, communication, updates, quality assurance and prompt delivery to ensure you meet, if not exceed your customer’s expectations. If at all possible, start bidding on smaller projects that don’t take long so it becomes easier for you to complete the project at a quick turn around and get that much needed 1st review for your freelancing profile.
To add, there are some freelancers who give it their all and sign up on multiple freelancing marketplaces to give themselves a better chance of getting some leads. If you have time and good at multi tasking, this might be a good idea and I will be posting a list of freelancing websites where you can sign up and pick cost efficient membership plans to get started with your freelancing career.
If you don’t want to go through bidding and want to find a client sooner, it might be a good idea to get in touch with one of your local clients and request him/her to post a project on the marketplace so it becomes easier for you to get your foot in the door. As you are expecting a favor, this may or may not click, but the idea is not bad if you have some connections.
Assuming you are new to freelancing without any prior experience or previous clientele to fall upon, you might want to find an experienced mentor that can guide you through the entire process and make your life easier by giving you initial projects that will boost your freelancing profile.
If you are about to create your profile, here are some indicators that you need to consider in order to create an optimized freelancing profile:
- Uploading a professional display picture of yourself
- Avoiding use of representation photos such as logos, clip-art
- Writing a clear title indicating what your specializations are
- Ensuring your description is relevant, to the point and proofread by someone other than yourself
- Identifying and signing up with relevant categories and skills
- Setting the right hourly price, preferably with a lower base price that can be increased as you go along
- Identifying relevant and genuine projects to bid on
- Making sure you focus on the 3 most important factors which are Consistency, Continuity and Communication
- Do I need to continue with my studies whilst doing freelancing?
To add, it would be a good practice if you gathered and observed existing freelancing profiles that are doing well in the market and prepare your notes and see if some of those points can be implemented for your freelancing career. In case you tried all possible options and nothing is clicking through, its time you sign up with a freelancing mentorship program that will help you to be driven, guided through and supported from the time you start to the time you get and are able to manage your own clients.