Today’s world is full of people willing to start their business. And you know what all of them have in common? They need things done. Things like logo, content, website design. Most of business owners outsource the work. This is why freelancing is a great opportunity for people willing to trade their time and skills for money.
It works like this. People who have a certain skill offer their services to the community. Somebody who needs that work hires freelancers to do it. They sign no contract, no paperwork. They have work to do, freelancer comes and gets things done. It’s that simple.
So, How do I make the money?
Well, as in life, through hard work. Online freelancing is pretty much like all other jobs. You need to do some assignments in order to get paid. The difference is, you can do this from the comfort of your home and following your own schedule.
Is it worthwhile?
I would say it is, once you succeed. In order to make a significant amount of income as a freelancer, maybe even replace your 9 to 5 job, you’d have to pretty much work 9 to 5 at home. It’s better, since you can work at your place, but it might be unstable as the amount of work that comes in is not guaranteed.
Most people freelance as a kind of side hustle, to supplement their income. You definitely shouldn’t quit your job when you land a few successful jobs. As you progress, gain experience and credibility you can slowly start considering switching your job to freelancing.
I will rather focus on freelancing as a side income source rather than full time occupation.
Should I make money freelancing?
Yes. You definitely should. If not make money, then at least try. Most people after reading an article or watching some Youtube videos think “I was looking for a trick, not work”. The reality is, there are no tricks. Unless you are incredibly lucky, to earn money you have to work. Maybe not necessarily a 9 to 5 job, but you need to put in your time and effort to see some progress.
Of course, there are somewhat ‘easier’ ways of making money as a freelancer by utilizing some tools available, but I will cover them later.
What skills can I trade for money?
Basically? Any. Anything you’re good at, whether it is logo or graphic design, web development, or just the ability to speak in english. Anything people are willing to pay for, you can sell.
How to find what’s selling?
I recommend you go to any freelancing platform like Fiverr or Upwork and browse gigs like a buyer. Check out the top selling niches, existing categories. Continue doing so till you find something you can do, could perfect it and sell.
What to watch out for?
Competition. Many niches like graphic design or content writing have extremely high competition. Those are the ones that are hard to succeed in. It’s hard, not impossible. The best thing you can do is, unfortunately, beat them in the fair fight. Be better than them. Perfect your skills in a certain area that they simply cannot compete. I know it takes a great amount of work and effort, but if you manage to be the best, it does pay.
‘Okay, but what if I’m already the best? I still get no orders.’
Well, now we come to beating the competition in orders. You just started out, people don’t know you’re better than the rest. It’s time to show them.
Unfortunately, you’ll most likely have to sell yourself cheap. Offer the same thing they do but cheaper. If 10 people trust you, your reviews will catch the eye of the next 100. I know it might seem not worth it. But we’re playing the long game here. You expect the success to come after some time, not with your first gigs. Your competition offers one logo for $5? You go ahead and offer 2. Or maybe 1 plus unlimited revisions. Just find something that will make buyers actually read your gig in spite of it having less or no reviews.
Imagine browsing through a site like Fiverr. You’re looking to get some work done. You’d obviously choose someone who has a reputation. Someone you’re likely to trust with your money. This seems like a dark scenario, but it’s the truth. Why would they choose you – the fresh guy – over somebody with experience and reviews?
That’s why you have to be creative. Think about how you can make your gig stand out. It’s most of the times done by lowering the price to ridiculous levels. Temporarily, of course. This exceptional offer might attract just enough eyes for you to get going. once you raise your authority among the community, you should raise the price to match others (so that you work for a decent coin) but still maintain the things that make people choose you over others.
What if I don’t have any skills?
Well, everybody has some skills. You can’t have no abilities. Something you were good at? Maybe you always kept on getting A’s from your school papers? Just think of something that have always come easily and start perfecting it.
‘Okay, but I still think that I have no skills’
Well then, my friend, you have 3 options.
- Get one. Learn something new. Maybe take drawing classes. Acquire new skills that will make you money in the long run. I did warn you it’s not going to be easy, but it’s surely the best thing you can do to create some freelance opportunities for yourself.
- Become a middleman. There are tons of freelancing platforms. Sing up to few. Then post a gig. It can be whatever you like. Let’s take logo design once again for example. Post a gig that you’ll make a logo for 10 bucks. When somebody places an order simply go to another (or even the same platform) and buy a logo for 5 bucks. You’ve just earned $5.
Of course it’s easier said than done. You have to keep track of many things. Mind the delivery dates. It’s good if the guy you outsource the work from offers revisions, it’s great, you can offer them too. Maybe you can fix some details you find need fixing. Just read a little about the legal site of such activity. It’s a bit slick but nonetheless still an option.
- Use tools. You are not a photoshop master? Go use Canva.com – it’s free and gets the job done. Sure, it won’t come near as good as photoshop but you can still land a gig with it. Maybe make a Youtube thumbnail or some wedding invitations. Just research more tools that can help you with your freelancing career. You can check some of them out here. (soon)
How do I start?
There are basically 3 ways of freelancing:
1. Set up your own website
This one is for more experienced freelancers, or hard working people who take the case seriously. You’ll need to find a domain and hosting. Build up your portfolio, build up your brand. Publish articles. Just make people aware that you’re legitimate. Seem like a pro, and soon enough you’ll become one.
This way is suitable for people who are willing to take massive action, and start doing freelance work full time, and as a main source of income. It probably does work when you don’t work full time on it but let’s be honest. People building their own freelance brands? They are huge. They are professional.
You have to put all your heart, time and effort into it if you want to succeed in such a way. It’s the hardest, most time consuming and the most risky way of freelancing but it pays the best.
I have not tried it and therefore cannot share any experience, but I’m sure that’s the most professional and therefore profitable way of freelancing.
2. Cold Pitching
Cold pitching is basically sending targeted emails to potential buyers, offering your service or partnership to them.
You find those people by any means available. For instance, go to YouTube and find some channels that you’d like to offer your services, go to ‘About’ section and some of them have an email address for ‘Business Inquiries’. If you are looking for someone to hire you as a content writer on their blog, simply go to their blog and check if they have some form of contact publicly available.
When I was doing this strategy I found YouTube channels about making money online, since it’s what I enjoy watching. I contected them and offered transcription services, so that they could subtitle their videos. This is a great example of cold pitching, since I proposed a service that could be beneficial for their business.
And that is crucial. They need to have a reason to buy your service. If it’s something of little to no value, why would they care? In my case, I told my potential clients this would broaden their audience since there are people who might have hearing issues or still need to read because they are still learning english, etc.
The thing here is to make them aware that your service could end up in them making more money, and they won’t have a problem with paying you a fraction for that.
In order to reach out to someone and not be considered a spammer (or a scammer) you need to personalize your email.
Don’t go with:
Hey there, I like your videos, can I sell you the service?
Instead, write something along those lines:
Hey Mike, I hope you’re doing great. I saw one of your videos lately on (…) I think it’s really good. I thought that you might be interested in my service, since (…)
This is just a short outline, but yet, note how the second email is presonalized, and recalls a video of theirs. This shows you’re a real deal and not just a copy & paste spammer.
The thing here is to contact them in a way that they see your email as an opportunity, not as a spam. Don’t write long ebooks about your service. Just briefly describe it, ask them whether they’re interested and encourage them to contact you for further details.
It is harder than it seems, as there is much to be done wrongly. You have to know how to hit them for this to work. I encourage you to read more about it, if that’s what you’re after.
Pitchig is a broad topic, and there’s much more to be learned than just a simple example, so that’s why I’ve put together this guide. (soon)
3. Freelancing platforms
There are plenty of those. First things that come to my mind are Fiverr, Upwork, PeoplePerHour and Freelancer.com. Those are platforms that connect 2 groups: Buyers and Freelancers. Freelancers offer their work either by posting gigs, or sending their proposals to freelance job offers and buyers come there to get the job done.
Freelancing on such platforms is the easiest way for beginners (pitching is also easy, but you have to know how to do it properly)
I’ve chosen to briefly describe 4 of them, the first ones that came to my mind, and the ones I was trying my best at.
Good for intermediate as well as advanced freelancers. It is gig based. It means there is no job offering, buyers can only buy listed gigs. This platform is great, as it is one of, if not the most popular freelancing platform out there. Therefore, many people trust it and many people use it – that makes it incredibly competitive.
It is pretty easy to sign up for Fiverr, There is no application process, you just create an account. Using it is completely free, no signup fees, however Fiverr charges 20% fee of your earnings (if somebody buys your $5 gig you earn $4). Money can be withdrawn to your PayPal or bank account. There is also Fiverr Revenue Card option which allows you to spend the earned money on Fiverr.
If you’re buying anything on Fiverr there is a $1 fee on purchases up to $20, above $20 it’s 5% of the total amount.
Fiverr can give beginners a hard time, so if you’re new to freelancing you might consider something less popular.
If you wish to learn more about fiverr along with my opinion and experience, go ahead and read this article here.
It is also one of the biggest freelancing platforms out there. However, it’s only offer-based. This means people post jobs there seeking freelancers for certain work. Then you – the freelancer – send your offer doing your best to get chosen from the pool of candidates (other people who have submitted their offers).
Once you create a profile, you fill it with details about your skills, attributes and capabilities. Them Upwork matches you with ideal jobs and you can post your offers. You can also browse through all jobs.
Upwork is also free to sign up. There is a 20% earnings fee. However, if you land multiple jobs with the same client, and the total billing is over $500 the fee is reduced to 10% (and 5% over $10,000). It encourages Freelancers to work with the same client and build trust.
Withdrawal is possible through PayPal, Payoneer and bank transfer. (more info: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211060918-Manage-How-You-Get-Paid )
Freelancer.com is similar to Upwork. It’s also offer based. However, it only allows its users to bid for 8 projects (job offers) a month unless they upgrade to a paid plan.
Fees here are quite complicated, however you don’t pay anything up front (unless you upgrade your membership), only the earnings fee. Generally, it’s 10% or $5 (greater of those two) on projects, and 20% on services. I know it sounds confusing, so go ahead and read about it here: https://www.freelancer.com/feesandcharges/
Earnings can be withdrawn through PayPal, Skrill, Freelancer debit card or direct deposit to your bank account (with some limitations). Minimum withdrawal is $30, and the first one is delayed 15 days for security reasons.
This one is beginner friendly. It’s a UK based company that’s not as popular as previous sites. It allows you to both post gigs and send your offers to job listings. It’s a great place to start your freelance journey. PPH offers 15 proposal credits a month, which don’t stack up. You can always buy more, and those do stack up (if you bought 5 and didn’t use them, the free ones reset to 15 on the beginning of the month, plus you keep your bought 5 = 20 credits)
Signup is Free, only cost is the 20% fee on earnings, same as with Fiverr. However, if the lifetime earnings with a specific client are over $700 (£500) the fee is reduced to 10%. I encourage you to read about PPH fees here: https://support.peopleperhour.com/hc/en-us/articles/205217197-PPH-Fees
Withdrawal methods are PayPal, Payoneer and bank transfer.
A small note to all of the above:
Make sure that your profile info (name) matches Paypal or Bank account since it might cause problems. Just don’t use your cousin’s PayPal okay?
After we’ve gone through technical stuff, it’s time to summarise. Once you have figured out what it is you are good at and willing to sell, I recommend signing up to all of the given platforms.
It takes 4x the amount of time to complete 4 profiles but it quadruples your chances of landing a successful job. Just make sure to fill your profile details thoroughly, so that potential clients can see your credibility.
You know, someone said that money lies on the street, you just need to grab it. I think it’s about time for you to do so.
I wish you all the best on your freelance journey.