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How to be a Successful Freelancer

Updated on November 13, 2013
Freelancing may be your window of opportunity into a wide range of careers. While it can be risky, it can also be exceptionally rewarding when approached with the right attitude and energy.
Freelancing may be your window of opportunity into a wide range of careers. While it can be risky, it can also be exceptionally rewarding when approached with the right attitude and energy. | Source
My So-Called Freelance Life
My So-Called Freelance Life

A fun look at the fundamentals of building your freelancing career around your the life you love.


Why confidence is absolutely critical for freelancing success

With the onset of tough economic times, working at home has never been more appealing to the average person. Millions of people worldwide have found themselves unemployed, often through no fault of their own. In some areas, there just aren’t any jobs available, of any caliber. Some have jobs available, but at a sub-poverty level that just doesn't meet the need of an average family. Others simply want to remove themselves from the rat race, lower their personal stress levels, and have more time to devote to home and family than their corporate 9-5 will allow. Whatever the reason, many have turned to the internet to find ways to make a living while sitting at their own home computers.

Why go into freelancing?

The concept of becoming a self-employed freelancer was once met with scorn. So many pursued get-rich-quick schemes or sought their fortunes with affiliate advertising programs. Many wasted a lot of time, energy and money with nothing to show for it. However, times are quickly changing. There is an increased demand for quality content due to search engine upgrades, advertiser requirements and savvy consumers. The internet itself is now solidly recognized as a time- and money-saving tool for businesses. The demand for real full-time work is on the rise, and thousands of people have now made the internet their sole source of income.

Freelancing is not a way to make a quick buck. It's time-consuming, and may take a lot of effort to start. Once you learn the fundamentals, the sky is the limit on earnings. Many have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars freelancing, earning themselves financial and career independence. How can you meet with the same kind of success as an online freelancer? As with anything, there are a few basic building blocks for success, then the rest is up to you.

Getting started as a freelancer

Often, the most challenging part of becoming a freelancer is simply getting your foot in the door and convincing potential clients that they should give you a shot. Hiring freelancers is a time-consuming and potentially risky business for the client. They’re often entrusting you with confidential information regarding their plans for success, and they're spending their valuable time vetting and training you for their project. They need the reassurance that you will handle their project professionally so there will be no need to hire anyone else.

Study successful freelancers and how they present themselves to the world. Maybe it's their websites, social profiles, published works, bid proposals, or other ways that they make themselves known to the public. Use that information to begin building your own image in your own style. Find ways to differentiate yourself from the competition and really sell your skills.

Differentiation is critical. It's always tempting to take whatever work you can get, especially when you feel like the client is doing you a favor. If you're desperate for any work, that's what you'll get -- just any work. Decide what it is that you offer that makes you more valuable than any other freelancer. Specialize in a certain area or style. Most importantly, convince yourself that you are the best in your chosen niche. You can always branch out or experiment with other niches later, but work on selling yourself in this way first.

What is the most appealing part about becoming a freelancer?

See results

Moving from odd jobs to a career

Now you have a start, and the jobs are trickling in. Now what? A trickle of projects won’t be enough to support you and your family. It’s time to build your reputation. Ask for feedback or letters of recommendation from clients you’ve worked for, giving you something to show to future potential clients.When appropriate, solidify your relationships with your current clients. Work on expanding your role with the ones you most enjoy working with, and that offer the most competitive pay rates.

Always make sure you accompany every proposal with an accurate time frame and deliver exactly as promised. No matter how good you are, sometimes the client will require revisions of your work to fit what they have envisioned. It is imperative that you do these revisions quickly and exactly as requested. Once you have a solid foundation, don't be afraid to vary the types of jobs that you do. You may discover that you are already working in the best fit for your interests and needs, or you may find a niche that you can get a lot more excited about.

To continue to head forward and upward, you need to constantly find new ways to add value to your services. Learn in-demand skills that are often requested in projects along with the things you’re already doing, or team up with other freelancers who can fill a range of needs. Your clients learn that they can depend on you to be a one-stop source for the entire job. Everything you do will add to your portfolio and give your clients a more complete picture of what you can offer.

Look for ways you can diversify your income, such as dividing your time between one-time lump payments and recurring revenue. This helps you develop greater earning stability. Eventually, you will also want to look for ways to increase your revenue without devoting your own hours. This might mean passing leads to other freelancers for a commission, investing your money, or some other way to stabilize your finances without eating up more of your time.

I hope this hub has been helpful to you. If you haven't yet, please take a moment to review the videos -- they have great information and only take a couple of minutes. Now I'd love to hear from you. What are the greatest roadblocks to becoming a freelancer for you? What are the greatest benefits? If you're not already a freelancer, is it something you'd ever consider doing full time? I'd love to get the conversation going.

Some excellent tips for getting started with your freelance business


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    • VENZKHVAM profile image


      7 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers

      I think this is a hub worth book marking as for the one who is trying to become a freelancing writer the tips and links are of much use and many are first time for me.

      I had voted up and useful.

      With warm regards

      Dinesh Nair

    • breathing profile image


      7 years ago from Bangladesh

      Awesome have written. I voted it up.

    • zduckman profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you

    • applecsmith profile image

      Carrie Smith 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      I agree that becoming a freelance writer can be a great source of income. Thanks for the tips, as I hope to add more fuel to the fire with my budding career. Voted up and useful!

    • wychic profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mikulin 

      8 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      Agreed, it definitely takes a lot of time...especially at the beginning! When I first started I think I was getting about a 3% success rate on my freelance proposals, so I spent a LOT of time just working on them. The good thing is, it helped me get really good at proposals and gave me a good taste of what to expect if I wanted to succeed at this. For affiliate writing like this, most of the time goes into teaching yourself types of research, SEO, and internet marketing that will make each article worth it. Good luck getting going with the writing, I know for me there has never been a better job :).

    • equealla profile image


      8 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Lots of info. I will go through it all and decide. I've joined HubPages recently for the fun of it. I like it so much, I would rather do writing full time if possible. Lets see if it works!

      Like career personality tests say: Will power and dicipline. But I must add: sufficient TIME!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      interesting article, good pointed advice.

    • profile image

      Career Personality Tests 

      8 years ago

      Strong will power and self discipline.

      Freelancing really is the future, I believe that many companies will outsource jobs.


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