Where do I begin?
Well, I definitely have to start out by saying that this is sort of the 20-something-traveler guide to becoming a freelancer. It’s for people who think: “I have no skills that I can use on-line” but want to find a way to work and travel abroad.
Obviously, if you’re a graphic designer or programmer, finding work on-line is super easy for you. You might even be able to convince your in-house employer to let you go remote. For me, that just wasn’t the case.
I was thrown into having to work as a freelancer without any idea what I wanted to do. I was living in Thailand at the time, fell in love and thought “I just HAVE to find a way to stay”. So, I did.
Lets jump right into it
1. Choose ONE site. Check out the available freelancing sites. Probably Upwork or Freelancer. I say pick one because as it may seem like having a profile on both would do you good, I did this and it sucks for a few reasons. 1) You have to learn 3 different platforms 2) You have to build OUTSTANDING profiles on each one 3) Building an outstanding profile means you have to get jobs and reviews on each one 4) If you get jobs on each one then you’ll have to check messages and sign in to all of these different sites all the time (super annoying). So, just pick one you like and stick with it.
2. Build a Profile. 100%. Not 90%. 100%. Yes, it is annoying to wait to be verified and all that stuff, but you gotta do it. It’s worth it because it shows clients that you’re serious. You didn’t just create this profile out of curiosity. You created it because you’re ready to work. To build your profile you need to: 1) Create a writing sample. Just choose a topic you like and write about 500 words on it. Even if you’re not interested in becoming a writer, employers want proof of your english language proficiency. 2) Write compelling and friendly profile taglines and statements. 3) Upload a nice picture of yourself. It doesn’t have to be professional, but you shouldn’t look pissed off, have a beer in your hand or be in a bathing suit on the beach. 4) Showcase work you’ve done. If you don’t have any projects to show at the beginning, that’s okay, but make sure you post them after. Not only will this help you get jobs in the future, but your clients will appreciate you posting the work you did for them on your profile!
3. Keep an Open Mind. Okay, if you already have a particular skill that you can find work for online (graphic designer, writer, web designer, etc) then you can just search jobs in that field. For the rest of us, we need to figure out where we fit, what we like and what works in the long term. 1) Turn in proposals in different fields. Make sure you can actually do them well because you’ll be getting reviewed on your work. 2) Don’t worry if the job is for a small amount of money. Maybe it wont support you for the week but no matter how much money you get for the job, the review at the end is worth its weight in gold. Once you make a name for yourself, you can charge a bit more.
When I first started out I did a ton of weird things… data entry (ugh), transcriptions (boring), small writing jobs, etc, etc. After a couple months and a few good reviews I started figuring out what I liked to do which was blog writing, Social Media Management and virtual assisting. I now have many clients who I wouldn’t give up for the world! Some I’ve held for over a year.
4. Learn the tricks of the trade. Once you’ve established what you want your freelance career to be, you’ve got to become a professional. Read up, learn new skills, study study study, watch videos, talk to friends of yours who are in your same field. If you can, take an online class.
5. Proposals, Proposals. Even if you are working jobs, you’ve got to keep on turning in proposals. If you want to support yourself on-line, you’ve always got to have work coming in. If you wait until you have finished a job to find new work, you might be going a week or 2 weeks without cash flow. That’s no good! So, always turn in new proposals every week. You never know what you could stumble upon!
6. Ask for a Raise. At some point, you will find steady work and if you keep turning in proposals and find higher paying jobs… ask for a raise in your current steady job. What could it hurt? You already found another higher paying job. So, why not see if your current employer would rather keep you on. In some cases, you can keep both steady jobs at the same time and build yourself out a great full-time online job.
How much time will it take to become a full-time freelancer? That all depends on you. You’ve got to be persistent. You’ve got to build your skills as you go. You’ve got to really want it.
Still have questions? Feel free to ask me in the comments below. I’m happy to help!
Safe travels ❤