The Ultimate Guide On How To Become An Online Freelancer
The world of online freelancing is so diverse that you would be surprised what services you can sell over the Internet. In fact, there are very few qualifications and skills that “cannot” be sold over the Internet. Are you a qualified plasterer? Then start your own plastering academy with online lessons, or sell your expertise to wannabe DIY viewers. Is your only skill that of housework? If so, then sell videos of your top tips to your clients or have your own podcast with hundreds of listeners.
Gain A Skill And/or Qualification That You Can Use
You cannot be a freelancer in anything; it just doesn’t work like that. You need a skill or a qualification. There are no “general” freelancers, except for illegal aliens, but that is probably not the sort of thing you are looking for. Your options are “Skill”, “Qualification” or “A Bit Of Both.”
Skill Freelance Jobs
These are the online jobs you can acquire if you have a skill in something. For example, there are people that order art over the Internet by and the artist creates it for them and sends it over. There is a fair amount of this in the cartoonist industry where a company will send over requirements to a cartoonist and he or she posts work back as per the agreed deadline.
To be an artist or a cartoonist, you do not need a qualification, but you do need a skill. If you do not have a qualification that you can sell over the Internet, then relying on a skill may be the way to go.
Qualification Freelance Jobs
There are quite a few qualification-related services you can sell over the Internet. For example, you may be thinking, “Gee, what can I do with a qualification in dog grooming over the Internet?” but there are plenty of things. You could become an online consultant and call yourself an expert or guru, you could start a web series on how to trim pooches, you could even start your own teaching program and sell lessons to the public.
A Bit Of Both Ski
There are some online services you can give that need a qualification, but you can get away with doing it without a qualification. For example, if you are a good programmer, nobody will care if you have a qualification. The same goes for graphic design, web design and security testing (hacking). If you have a qualification in the subject, you may find it easier to get work, but it is possible to get work without it.
Do Not Quit Your Day Job
For the love of Christmas, do not quit your day job. The fact is that your freelance venture is probably not going to work. Most freelancers have to get a real job within two years because they are so terribly in debt. Let’s not beat about the bush here, being a freelancer is viciously difficult and you have almost no safety net. Most freelancers have some sort of personality disorder because you need one to stay in business.
Becoming a freelancer means laying a lot of foundation. It is a little like starting a shop, you have to do a lot of setting up and do a lot of planning before you start. Before you become a full-time freelancer, you need to lay your foundation. That is why you cannot quit your job yet, you need to subsidize your business until you are up, running and turning a serious profit.
Making Sales Means Everything
As you are starting, things are going to look great. You may get some work, or some encouragement, or lots of interest. It is seductive and may make you likely to quit your day job and start being a freelancer full-time. You need to make sales. It needs to be your top priority. Forget what people have told you about online reputation or marketing, your first and only priority needs to be making sales.
Why Are Sales So Important?
The reason they are so important, especially early, is because making sales is the hardest part of being a freelancer. You may have a budget of millions and you may have set yourself up to produce a product that is 99% better than your competition, but it won’t matter if you cannot sell your services.
Quit Your Job When…
There are three stipulations. The first is that you should be making too many sales to the point where you have too much work. The amount of work you are able to gain via your service selling should produce enough profit to keep you going independently. Your selling point needs to be honed, efficient and effective.
The second stipulation is that your production process is polished and efficient. You have to be more efficient and streamlined than bigger companies because they have room for error–but you do not. Efficiency is one of the biggest keys to freelancer success with the exception of the ability to make sales.
The third stipulation is a little unfair, but it is that you should be making as much money as you do when working your day job. This stipulation is a little unfair because you are spending less time on your freelance career, and you may be earning a larger wage in your job than you are able with your freelance career. Nevertheless, your mindset should be that you are trying to earn as much as possible as a freelancer. If you are able to get all your freelance work done and still work a day job, then you do not yet have enough clients to justify quitting your day job.
Creating Your Website
Building and creating a website is easy, but it is very daunting. You will have to use a content management system and online hosting. Do not pay a web designer or another person to do your website stuff for you. You need to learn it yourself. You are a freelancer now, which means you will have to do all of this by yourself. If you have a friend or family member with a website, then try to get them to teach you how to do it.
Here is what you need to know about building a website. There are three elements to making a website. You need the software to build the website, you need a website name, and you need hosting.
Website Building Software
Do not worry too much about this because it is everywhere. The most commonly used software is called WordPress, but there is also Blogger, Joomla, Magento, Yola and many more. They are drag-and-drop programs that you use on your computer to make websites. The process is far easier than it sounds, but you will need to take the time to learn all about them and how to use them. They are called website builders or content management systems.
Buying A Website name
Every website has its own domain name. The domain name is what you type into the address bar. We call it the website domain name, even though the website itself may have a different name. You need to buy a domain name and name your website.
For example, if you are selling accountancy services, you may call your website domain: www.CountingBeans.com and you may call your website: Jenny’s Accountancy Service
There is a website with a domain name that is just www.DIY.com, but the website itself is called B&Q after the business that runs the website.
You do have to buy a domain name, and you will not have it forever. Most people have it for around two years, and then it is renewed again and again. You are usually sent a reminder before it expires. They are usually cheap, but if you want a fancy one such as www.diy.com, then it will cost you thousands.
Buying Hosting Services
You have your domain name, and you have your content management system. Now you need hosting. Think of it as rental space for your online business. You may rent space in a real-life shop. You give your shop a name, and you build shelves and such. A similar thing happens with a website, when you buy hosting, it is like buying rental space. You put up your domain name and buy hosting space and bandwidth.
It sounds tricky, but it gets easier once you are in it. Hosting space is online storage space. Your website takes up memory space, and your hosting holds it all. The more memory your website takes up (more pages, more pictures, etc.), then the more hosting space you need.
Bandwidth is a not something a freelancer needs to bother too much about. Most hosting plans offer sufficient bandwidth. It only becomes an issue if your website is media heavy, or you are expecting thousands of viewers in a short space of time.
A Hosting Package
If you Google something such as “build a website,” you will see lots of companies that offer everything in one package. They will offer you the chance to buy a website name, to buy hosting space, and to use their own website builder with one package. This may sound ideal for new starters, but they are usually expensive (after all is paid for), and they are usually very limited and will not allow you to do things that other companies will.
The same is true for companies that offer you a website for free, there is always a catch, and it is usually that you have to start paying after a year, and their fees are silly.
What you need to do is go onto YouTube and watch videos on how to set up a WordPress website, and how to set up a Magento website, and so forth. Watch different videos because each will promote different companies and so have their own bias.
Advertising Your Website
You are an online freelancer, so you need to advertise your website. It is not as difficult as it sounds. Look into how to use Google Adwords. It is an advertising system that allows you to place adverts online and you only pay if people click on them. You can watch a series of online videos from Google, and watch videos on YouTube, and they will teach you how to use Google Adwords. Set your price-per-click to a fairly low amount, and you can catch the straggling viewers. These are the viewers that were looking at the time when your competitors took their eyes off the ball. Look into ways on how to lower the amount you pay for affiliate advertising with Google Adwords too.
You can also promote your website on social media too. It is free advertising and it if fairly easy. Try to aim for your target audience, which probably means using Google+ to find suitable groups. Try to create content that they will genuinely find interesting. For example, if you are a graphic designer that sells to new businesses, then show your most dramatic, shocking, scary or sexy stuff on Google+ to get people’s interest.
How To Find New Clients
It really depends on what type of freelance business you are running. One of the easiest ways is to solicit people directly. Go to their websites or social media profiles and ask them if they would like to consider your services, or if they would be kind enough to take a look at your website. Another classic move is to copy your competitors. They are great clients through signing up to certain directories or being listed on certain websites, so all you have to do is copy them.
Less Aggravation Is Worth Money
As a final note to all freelancers out there. You may like the idea of getting a high rate, but if the client is a pain or aggravating, then cut the client loose. It is better to have ten easy-going clients than it is to have two or three high maintenance. You may enjoy talking to clients at first, but after a while, it is going to bother you. Aggravating clients will make you dread opening your emails or sms messages because you know they will have made contact to sure up yet another detail.