How to Become a Freelancer: The Sassy 20-Step Guide

How to Become a Freelancer

So, you want to become a freelancer? Ah, the glamorous life of setting your own hours, working in pajamas, and inevitably becoming best friends with your postman because he’s the only human contact you’ll have for days on end. Well, pull up a chair, because I’m about to reveal the secret sauce of jumping into the ever-so-spectacular world of freelancing.

Step 1: Delude Yourself

Before anything else, start by romanticizing freelancing. Imagine you’re on a beach in Bali with your laptop, sipping a mojito. Reality check: you’re probably in your basement, with a cold cup of coffee, but hey, a dream’s a dream, right?

Step 2: Master the Art of Procrastination

A key skill every freelancer should hone is procrastination. There’s a tricky balance to maintain – procrastinating just enough to panic, but not so much that you miss the deadline. Once you’ve binged every possible series on Netflix and rearranged your sock drawer three times, it’s time to start working – five minutes before the deadline.

Step 3: Acquire Clients (Or, You Know, Don’t)

Most freelancers will tell you to network, create an impressive portfolio, or optimize your LinkedIn profile. But let’s face it: the best way is to stalk potential clients in supermarket aisles and whisper, “Need a graphic designer?” as they try to choose between cereals. Okay, maybe don’t actually do this. But be persistent. And annoying. Just like a mosquito, but with marketable skills.

Step 4: Say Yes to EVERYTHING!

Remember, in freelancing, boundaries are for the weak. Accept every project, no matter how little it pays or how soul-sucking it sounds. Sleep is overrated anyway. Soon, you’ll be an expert at making 25-hour workdays out of the meager 24 you were given.

Step 5: Get Used to Being Paid… Eventually

Ah, the joys of inconsistent income. While your friends are showcasing their steady paychecks, you’ll become an expert at playing the “Will they pay me this week?” guessing game. It’s like gambling, but with your rent money.

Step 6: Self-Doubt Sessions

This is essential. Every few days (or hours), it’s crucial to question all your life choices leading up to this moment. Stare into the abyss of your coffee cup and wonder if you’re any good. Then remember step 1 and snap out of it.

Step 7: Keep an “Inspiring” Work Environment

By this, I mean a desk littered with empty coffee mugs, Post-it notes with cryptic reminders like “DO THE THING,” and a chair that’s probably bad for your posture. Throw in a cat that walks over your keyboard at the worst possible times, and you’re golden.

Step 8: Tax Season = Panic Season

You thought you were earning decent money until the tax season strikes. Now’s the perfect time to rummage through the year’s worth of receipts you’ve stored in that “special” shoebox. If you’ve not cried over a tax form, are you even freelancing?

Step 9: Overcome Your Fear of Phone Calls

Every freelancer’s nightmare is that moment when a client says, “Let’s jump on a call.” But fear not! Embrace the awkward silences. Take solace in the fact that they can’t see your face turn fifty shades of red. Pro-tip: Keep a script. Or a paper bag for hyperventilation. Whichever.

Step 10: Embrace the Freelancer Uniform

Perfect your freelancer attire: pajamas by day, pajamas by night. Throw on a blazer for video calls (upper-half only, of course). Accessorize with unkempt hair and a look of sheer determination (or is that despair?).

Are you still with me? Good! Let’s move forward then and delve into advanced techniques, like how to fend off “exposure” as payment offers and the art of nodding knowingly when clients use jargon you’ve never heard before.

Step 11: The “Exposure” Currency

Ah, every freelancer’s favorite word: “exposure.” Soon, you’ll meet clients who offer this instead of actual money. Fun fact: Exposure bucks can’t be used to buy groceries. Who knew? But fear not! Simply respond with, “My landlord doesn’t accept exposure, but I’ll be sure to ask!”

Step 12: Master the Nod and Smile

When in meetings and a client uses phrases like “synergize the deliverables” or “leverage the bandwidth,” just nod knowingly. Inside, you might be thinking of pizza, but outside, you’re the epitome of professionalism, even if you have no clue what they’re going on about.

Step 13: Defining ‘Weekends’

Remember weekends? Those two days where people relax? As a freelancer, weekends are mythical creatures – much like unicorns or clients who pay on time. Embrace the joy of working at odd hours. 3 AM on a Sunday? Prime productivity time!

Step 14: Develop Thick Skin

Rejection is part of the game. So, when a client says, “It’s not what we were looking for,” or “Can you do it again but better?”, take a deep breath. Then scream into a pillow, eat some ice cream, and get back to it.

Step 15: Make Friends with Coffee

Or tea. Or any caffeine source. It’s not just a drink; it’s your new life partner. It’s there for you during late-night edits and early-morning meetings. Some say water is essential for survival. Freelancers know it’s actually coffee.

Step 16: Juggle Multiple Hats (Literally and Figuratively)

One minute you’re a writer, the next an accountant, then a project manager, and sometimes a therapist for your clients. Why pay for a circus when you’re living in one?

Step 17: Celebrate Small Wins

Got out of bed before noon? Win. Managed to wear something other than pajamas? Huge win. Got paid on time? Throw a mini party (with one, because social distancing from a regular job is still a thing).

Step 18: Master Polite Ways to Chase Payments

Craft poetic reminders like, “Just floating this gentle nudge into your inbox” or “Remember that tiny detail of the invoice I sent?”. It’s an art. Picasso would be proud.

Step 19: Join Freelancer Support Groups

Also known as online forums or Twitter threads where everyone is equally confused, sleep-deprived, and oddly optimistic. Nothing says camaraderie like collectively wondering where your next paycheck is coming from.

Step 20: Always Remember Your Why

In between the caffeine highs and chasing payments, remember why you started freelancing. Whether it’s for freedom, passion, or just an aversion to office politics, let this be the lighthouse in the occasionally foggy world of freelancing.

In conclusion, freelancing isn’t just a job; it’s a lifestyle. One where unpredictability is the only predictable thing. But with enough humor, coffee, and sheer stubbornness, you can not only survive but thrive. Cheers to the wild ride, and may your exposure be always convertible to cash.

Pro Tips for Those Who are Serious About Diving into the Freelance World:

  • Niche Down. It’s tempting to offer a broad range of services, but finding a niche can set you apart from the competition. Specializing allows you to charge more for your expertise and can make you more attractive to a specific set of clients.
  • Set Clear Boundaries. Establish work hours and communicate them with clients. It’s important to prevent burnout and to ensure you have personal time. Respect your own boundaries, and clients will too.
  • Continual Learning. The freelance world is ever-evolving. Dedicate time to upskilling, whether it’s new software in your field, marketing strategies, or communication techniques.
  • Financial Planning. Unlike a salaried job, freelancing income can be irregular. Set a budget, save for lean times, and always set aside money for taxes.
  • Professional Presentation. Invest in creating a professional portfolio or website. First impressions count, and having a polished online presence can make all the difference in attracting high-quality clients.
  • Network. Join industry-specific groups, attend conferences or webinars, and engage on platforms like LinkedIn. Referrals and word-of-mouth are powerful in the freelance community.
  • Communication is Key. Clear, timely, and professional communication can differentiate you from others. Regularly update clients on progress, and always be open if challenges arise.
  • Contract Clarity. Always have a clear contract outlining deliverables, timelines, revisions, and payment terms. This protects both you and the client and prevents misunderstandings.
  • Develop a Routine. While the beauty of freelancing is flexibility, having a routine can increase productivity. Set regular work hours, take breaks, and ensure you have time off.
  • Seek Feedback. After completing a project, ask clients for feedback. Positive testimonials can be used for marketing, while constructive criticism can guide improvement.

Starting a freelance career is no small feat, and while it comes with its unique challenges, the autonomy, flexibility, and potential for growth make it a rewarding journey for many. Equip yourself with these tips, and you’re set for a more structured and successful freelance adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Becoming a Freelancer

1. Is freelancing just a fancy term for unemployment?

Not quite. While some might call it “funemployment,” it’s more like being the CEO, CFO, and intern of your own one-person conglomerate. Flexibility meets never-ending work hours!

2. Do I get to work in pajamas all day?

Absolutely! But be warned: There’s a direct correlation between days spent in pajamas and forgetting how buttons work.

3. What’s the best part of freelancing?

Being your own boss. Also, the worst part? Yup, you guessed it. Being your own boss.

4. Can I start freelancing without experience?

Sure! Just like you can swim without knowing how, but a life jacket (or some previous skills) might help to avoid sinking.

5. Will I get rich quickly as a freelancer?

Oh, absolutely! Just as soon as you figure out how to convert “exposure” into rent and groceries.

6. How do I know how much to charge?

It’s a delicate balance between “I think I’m worth this much” and “I really want instant noodles for dinner… again.”

7. What’s the best way to find my first client?

Stand on your balcony and shout your skills to the world. If that doesn’t work, there’s always networking, word of mouth, and online platforms.

8. Is freelancing the future?

Totally! Just like flying cars and calorie-free chocolate. But in all seriousness, with the rise of remote work and the gig economy, freelancing is becoming a more viable career option for many.

9. Can I take vacations whenever I want?

Of course! Just remember to pack your laptop, because “vacation” is just another location to meet deadlines.

10. Will I get famous as a freelancer?

With the right clients and projects, you’ll be the talk of your living room in no time!