15 Basic Sure-Fire Tips for Beginner Freelancers

Listen to the article:

Hey freelancer! Maybe you’re just starting out doing side work, or you’re considering taking the plunge. Either way, this article will guide you through the beginning stages of freelancing. 

Hey, I’m Seth. I’m a freelancer with 7+ years of experience in digital marketing. I help you earn more and work less. Check out some helpful guides to assist with your workflow.

Do you need a website SEO audit? I can do a complete overview for you and help increase impressions, engagement, and conversions.

Want some 1-on-1 freelance coaching? Schedule a free call. Don’t forget to follow on Instagram: @SethTheFreelancer.

Now, let’s get to the list:

1. Don’t quit your main job! 

When just starting out, you’ll need a consistent income to sustain you as you work your freelance gigs. Quitting your main job may cause you to ditch the whole freelance thing and set you on a path back to finding a consistent income. And hey, what’s the harm of having extra cash in your pocket?

A 19-Point Checklist When Starting Remote Freelancing

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2. Build mental toughness… 

Freelancing is tough. Finding clients, adding to a portfolio, and working late nights and weekends when your friends are out having a good time. It takes grit to do freelance work. Be prepared to have some thick skin. 

3. …And don’t give up!

On the flip side, freelancing can be really rewarding. The paid invoices, a built network, and cool clients are all part of the fun. Stick with it and you will find contract work to be rewarding. 

4. Create a portfolio (and website!)

When you’re just starting out, you’ll need to prove to the world what you’re made of. Create a portfolio to showcase your work. It’s best to create your own website, so you have complete control of your layout. Popular options are WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix. I highly recommend WordPress since it’s highly customizable and better for SEO. 

5. Be willing to work for cheap (or free) to build your portfolio 

You won’t (and shouldn’t) work for free for long, but just enough to put something in your portfolio. 

6. Write up a contract

Congratulations! You’ve had your first conversation with a client, and they need a contract that outlines your agreement. Include these items in your write-up:

  • Contact details for the freelancer and client
  • Scope: What will be completed
  • Pricing and rates
  • Payment schedule and options
  • Deadlines and timeline
  • Ownership/copyright

Here’s one you can copy:

A Contract & Scope Template for Freelancers (Copiable Google Doc!)

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7. Try freelancing platforms…but don’t rely on them

You’ve heard it…”Upwork is the way to go!” I disagree. The platform hasn’t done much for me. Plus you have to pay to give a proposal. That sounds backward to me! 

Now, all this doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.com to get work. But I will say that you’ll have a better chance of getting work if you find your own clients. 

35 Unique Ways to Land Clients as a Freelancer (Not Upwork!)

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8. Send the cold email pitch

There’s value to sending cold emails. It’s how I landed my first two clients! Here’s an example of how to get someone’s attention:

“I found XYZ.com, and I like your digital marketing services. Do you need website content for your new pages? I’m a professional SEO writer in the US with 100+ published pages on the web. I partner with agencies and take the headache out of researching and writing. Let me know, and I will send info and samples.”

Don’t forget to follow up in a few days if you don’t hear from them. And then, after a few days…

9. Do the scary call pitch

Too many people are scared of the old-fashioned phone call. You’ll be a pro after the third call. You’ll start to hone in on your effective pitch after the fifth pitch and may land your next client on the seventh. 

10. Set the right freelance price for hired services 

Depending on your freelance expertise, you may charge as little as $20 or as much as $100 or more. The range is truly fluid. You’ll have to decide the price point that’s right for you. But a good rule of thumb for those starting out should be in the $30 range. 

11. Join an online freelancer community (Slack) 

Join a freelancer community (I started one on Slack) to ask questions and get to know other freelancers. 

12. Be prepared for taxes (if you make more than $600 in the US)

Watch out for the nearly 30% of the taxable income you need to pay back to the country (in the US). This was shocking to me when I first started out. Here it is broken down:

$10,000 x 30% = $3,000 that you owe for taxes

BUT you can write off many things on your taxes, including your workspace, mileage, and business expenses. Take advantage of this!

13. Set your work schedule 

When are your working hours? 7am-3pm? 9am-5pm? 12pm-8pm? Whenever your work hours, make sure it’s when you’re the most productive, and creative! 

14. Be grace-filled with yourself

You may not get where you want to be overnight, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop! Keep pressing on until you reach the goals you want to achieve.

15. Grow your business! 

What’s it going to take to take your business to the next level? How will you get there?  Set the things in line for you to set yourself on the right track.

Check out some guides to help you get there. Need some 1-on-1 coaching? Schedule a free call and let’s do it together.

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