Pick A NICHE
If you want to build a career as a freelancer, it makes sense to specialize in a specific skill. For example, if your goal is to start freelancing, you might feel ready to take ANY paid work on Fiverr or Upwork you can get your hands on. But as you get deeper into your freelancing career, you'll need to start being more strategic about the types of work you do and the clients you take on.
Choose your services carefully
When you start as a freelancer, it's essential to identify the specific skills and services you want to offer. If you're going to become a sought-after, highly paid Ruby on Rails developer, you shouldn't accept contract offers for customizing WordPress themes or designing the user experience for an upcoming app. Instead, focus your efforts on developing your portfolio in the direction you want to move.
Define who your clients are
Before you can go out and start looking for clients, you'll need to develop a clear picture of who you're going to work best with. Do you want to build websites for small business owners (or larger ones) and make a name for yourself blogging as a professional blogger?
Work as a copywriter, pitch in on new feature development for high-growth technology startups, or take on longer-term contracts with enterprise-sized companies. Or maybe you want to work specifically for brands and clients with values that align with yours?
To define precisely who your ideal freelance clients should be (and how to start finding them), ask yourself these questions:
What type of business has the problems I'm solving with my services?
Can the business I want to work with afford to hire me?
What demographic trends can I identify about the decision-makers in the types of businesses I'm targeting? Think age, gender, geographic location, frequent websites, and personal interests.
create a portfolio
One of the best ways to demonstrate your technical skills is by having a fantastic portfolio site that showcases your expertise and relevant past experiences. If you want to be taken seriously as a new freelancer, you'll need a website that includes your contact information so that potential clients can easily find you.
Start freelancing before you quit your job
I recommend starting your freelance business while keeping your day job (or working part-time) rather than immediately pursuing self-employment. Besides creating a high-quality portfolio website, building your brand, and adding to your portfolio naturally takes a reasonable amount of time, it's wise to have a few steady freelance clients on your roster before axing your sole source of income. I recommend growing your side income to at least 50–75% of your total current income before leaving your full-time job, depending on how risk tolerant you are.
level up your skills
The best way to justify higher hourly rates? Make sure you have impressive skills that are in high demand. Practice using your new skills by building the types of projects that you want to be paid to work on for others eventually.
Build your credibility
There are many ways to build credibility within your industry. You can write an ebook, create an online course and line up speaking engagements to start increasing your visibility within your niche. Or you can build up your portfolio on freelance platforms and freelance gig websites by working for a slightly lower hourly rate to start and increasing it as you gain more experience.
Determine your pricing
When starting as a freelancer, it can be challenging to decide how much to charge for your services. But if you set your rates too low, clients might not value your work as much, and they may be less likely to want to work with you again in the future.
As a freelancer, you need to be able to make a sustainable, comfortable living. Most clients won't hesitate to pay higher rates for a freelancer that gives them an incredible first impression and sells them the ability to deliver high-quality results.
Increase your network
Using your existing networks to find freelance opportunities and clients is a great way to land higher quality and better-paying freelance work. If you have a mutual connection with someone at the company you want to work with, ask them if they'd be willing to send an introduction on your behalf.