Working freelance sounds great in theory. Being your own boss, choosing your own hours, and working from home: what’s not to love?
However, working from home as a freelancer is not always as easy as it sounds. You may be intimidated by the prospect of even starting, or have already begun freelancing and not be making as much money as you want. There is an art to making money as a freelancer, and some of the most effective tips and tricks are not common knowledge.
The good news is that there are some quick and easy freelancing hacks you can use to instantly boost your self-employed career. Here are nine ways to get started making money working from home as a freelancer.
Get organized and set a schedule
One of the most difficult things about working from home is staying motivated and on task. Without a boss or a line manager keeping you on track, it can be easy to get distracted by household chores or simply lounge around in your pajamas all day. Before you know it, the sun has set and you haven’t done any work at all.
To be successful, you need to treat your freelance work as a real job. Get up at a reasonable time each morning, shower, get dressed as if you were going out to an office, and sit down at your desk with a plan for the day. Make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish and give yourself deadlines. Work for set hours each day, and take regular breaks — overwork will only lead to burnout!
Sometimes it’s not about what you know, but who you know. Other freelancers will have all sorts of useful tips and tricks to share, from how to set your rates, to where to find the best clients, to time-saving techniques and sites. Don’t struggle along on your own — reach out and find freelancer friends.
When you work from home, it’s harder to meet people from your industry — but not impossible. Get involved with online communities related to your field, and attend relevant conferences and meetups. Ask to be introduced to other freelancers. You never know who you’ll meet and what opportunities will come up.
Choose your niche wisely
Most freelancers work within a niche that they’ve identified works for them. Niches are a specialized segment of the market which are often lesser-known but can be very lucrative thanks to demand outstripping supply. For example, there are many freelancers blogging about TV and movies, but not so many writing blogs about repairing TVs. With a niche, you’ll find it much easier to leave your mark and command higher rates from clients.
However, not all niches are equal. If you want to make the most of a niche, choose your market with care. According to UpWork, some of the most lucrative industries for freelancers are mobile application and virtual reality development, search engine optimization (SEO), and packaging design.
As a freelancer, you will begin as an unknown quantity to your clients. Before they work with you, they will not be sure what to expect. However, you can reassure potential clients that your skills are up to par with some credibility building.
There are various ways you can build up credibility. If you already have clients you work or have worked with, try asking them for some testimonials for your website or portfolio. If you’re new to freelancing, or if the nature of what you do is confidential, you can show the quality of what you do by offering a sample. This could come in the form of an eBook or downloadable guide offering advice and tips, an online course, or tutorials. If clients can see that you know what you’re doing, work will follow.
Don’t underprice yourself
When starting out or in dire need of new work, many freelancers make the mistake of setting low prices to try and attract more clients. While this strategy may seem like a good way to find more work, it will ultimately hurt more than help you.
The first danger with underpricing yourself is that you will find yourself working extremely long hours to try and earn the amount of income you require to make a living, eventually leading to burnout. However, there is another danger that may come as a surprise to those just starting their work-from-home freelance journey.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, instances where one business is able to gain a strong foothold in the market by relying on low prices alone are rare. When quality clients — who will treat you and your work with respect, pay on time, and engage your services again — see very low prices, they see it as a warning sign that your work will not be up to standard. Instead, underpricing yourself often leaves you with predatory, unreliable, and dishonest clients that can seriously stall a freelancing career.
Keep your costs low
The benefit of working from home is that you have no costly commute, office outfit expenses, or cafe lunch bills to worry about. You can save a lot of money by simply staying home. However, there are other costs you can rack up while freelancing from home without even realizing it.
To counter this, keep a monthly budget planner tracking your work expenses. Include things like your Internet and electricity bills in this, along with any software you use for your job. If you notice that you’re spending a lot of money on one thing in particular, think of ways you can reduce those costs.
Depending on your industry, you may be able to take courses or earn certifications to showcase your skills to clients. With certifications like this, you can justify setting a higher rate for what you do.
For example, freelance web designers have access to an array of certifications confirming their skills, such as Google’s Mobile Web Specialist and Adobe’s Certified Expert (ACE) qualifications. These certifications prove that the designer in question is skilled enough to pass a rigorous exam testing their abilities, proving their worth.
These certifications and courses often cost money, but the price is generally relatively low, and is typically one-off, meaning that once you’ve earned it you can display it on your website or portfolio for as long as you like.
Perfect your elevator pitch
As a freelancer, you will typically be reaching out first to many clients. Once you’ve built a solid foundation, clients will often approach you first — but in the beginning, expect to be doing a lot of pitching.
Your elevator pitch should be short, snappy, and quickly explain to potential clients how you can help them. The average attention span is eight seconds — you don’t have time to waste on trivial details. Keep your pitch straight to the point, and focus on what actually matters to your client: how you can help them. Once they’re hooked, you can wow them with your portfolio, your testimonials, and your certifications, but first impressions count, so make sure you’ve perfected yours.
Do what you love
Freelancing from home means that you have to motivate yourself — and there is no better motivation than enjoying what you do.
It’s inevitable that you won’t be able to love what you do all the time. All work comes with downsides, and there will be days when you just want to stay in bed and sleep until the afternoon. However, the joy of freelancing is being able to choose what you do, so choose something that you actually enjoy and feel passionate about. If you enjoy your work, you’ll produce better quality results and you’ll want to do it more often, leading to better rates, more clients, and, very quickly, more income.
Working from home as a freelancer is a career that many people dream of, but not everybody makes it work. But for those who do make freelance work their main source of income, the hard work is worth it. In fact, 51% of freelancers say that no amount of money could persuade them to switch back to a traditional job.
However, with these nine tips and tricks, you can quickly start working your way up the ranks to better clients and more income. Once you’re on a roll, you might be surprised at how quickly things begin to take off – so don’t waste time, get started!