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How to Become a Freelancer for Beginners with Upwork in 2024

by Hồng Yến

Freelancing provides a fantastic opportunity to control how you work. As a freelancer, you have the freedom to work anywhere and anytime. These appealing privileges are leading to the growth of the freelancing industry. In fact, over a third of the U.S. workforce is currently freelancing at some level, according to a recent freelancing study by Upwork.

But how do you start freelancing? If you’re looking to take the first step to become a freelancer but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss seven steps to become a freelancer in 2024.

  • Define your service & offering
  • Find your target audience
  • Develop a pricing structure
  • Create your portfolio with past jobs
  • Write a great proposal
  • Create a relationship with your client
  • Continue developing your skills

Customers are seeking successful freelancers to solve their problems across virtually every industry, job, and skill set. Regardless of your profession, customers are looking for a freelancer like you to solve their problems. Here are some of the most popular freelance jobs in 2024:

  • Software developer
  • Writer
  • Digital marketer
  • Web/mobile developer
  • Graphic designer

Millions of businesses use Upwork’s work marketplace to find talented freelancers based on over 5,000 skills and 100+ categories of work. Over 10,000 freelance opportunities are posted on Upwork each day.

Becoming a freelancer in 7 easy steps

Why do you aspire to be a freelancer? Is it for an extra source of income, to broaden your work experience, or to replace your full-time job?

Freelancing provides the liberty to choose. There are numerous ways for freelancers to succeed in 2023. You can start freelancing during your free time or consider it as a full-time profession. No matter how you approach it, the following seven steps will help you overcome common challenges faced by new freelancers.

  1. Define Your Service & Offering The initial step to freelancing is transforming your skills into a service. This requires understanding how your abilities can assist potential clients. Imagine being in your ideal client’s position. What issues are they facing, and how can your skills help resolve them?

Remember, clients are seeking solutions to their problems. To be a successful freelancer, you need to comprehend the client’s situation and tailor your service to address their problem. The answers to these questions will form the basis of how you package your skills as a service. Now, it’s time to devise a concise description of the service that will help you market your freelance service to businesses. Try to succinctly explain what you can do, how you do it, and for what kind of business/client. Don’t worry about pricing yet; we’ll address that in later steps.

  1. Identify Your Target Audience Once you have a freelance service to offer, the next step is to identify your target audience. Begin by determining the type of clients that would benefit from your service. Do these clients share a common problem and characteristics? Are they in a specific industry?

As a new freelancer, simply being proficient at what you do isn’t enough to attract clients automatically. It’s vital to position yourself where potential clients can learn about your services. You’ll need to proactively seek out potential clients. For most freelancers, there are three primary methods to acquire clients:

  • Freelance job posting platforms
  • Leveraging existing connections and networking
  • Marketing, advertising, and outreach

Upwork là một thị trường việc làm giúp những người làm việc tự do và khách hàng kết nối và tham gia vào các dự án công việc có ý nghĩa. Trên Upwork, khách hàng đang tích cực đăng các dự án có sẵn trên nhiều danh mục và trả mức giá cao nhất cho tác phẩm có chất lượng. Bạn có thể tìm kiếm ở đây để tìm các dự án phù hợp với kỹ năng của bạn.

  1. Establish Your Pricing Structure Once you have clearly defined your service and target market, it’s time to set your price. The goal is to maximize the amount you’re paid without losing potential jobs. So, start by considering your competitors in the market. How much are they charging for similar freelance services?

In reality, there’s no perfect formula for pricing your freelance services. Many variables can influence the amount a client is willing to pay:

  • Experience
  • Industry
  • Project duration
  • Deliverables
  • Project complexity
  • Client’s geographical location
  • Urgency

Fortunately, platforms like Upwork provide useful resources to help you price your freelance services. For more information, consider the two main pricing models that freelancers use: hourly pricing and project-based (fixed) pricing.

Don’t let uncertainty about your pricing structure stop you from getting started. Your prices aren’t set in stone. You can change them in the future. Start with a price that you feel comfortable with and try not to overthink it.

  1. Create Your Portfolio with Past Work Creating an appealing portfolio is an indispensable step to becoming a successful freelancer. As a freelancer, your portfolio affirms the quality of your work by showcasing your past achievements and projects. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate—not just tell—clients what you’re capable of and your professional value.

Your portfolio should highlight your best work related to your service offering. Each section in your portfolio should paint a clear picture of your contributions and how that project benefited the client. An effective portfolio might include case studies, testimonials, data-driven results, images, charts, work samples, and models. It’s important to get permission from your past clients before incorporating their project documents into your portfolio.

  1. Write a Great Proposal To ensure a successful start as a freelancer, your first project should align closely with your experience and skills. When you find a project that you’re confident you can deliver excellently, it’s time to submit a proposal.

A fitting proposal can make the difference between securing the job or not, so it’s important to have a proposal that suits you.

On platforms like Upwork, submitting a project proposal is straightforward and simple. Using websites or platforms other than Upwork, you can still use this proposal structure to demonstrate your value to potential clients. For best practices, refer to freelance writer Andreea-Lucia Mihalache’s article on building a successful proposal. In summary, a fitting proposal will strongly highlight your capabilities. It needs to outline the company’s needs, how you can help, as well as provide your credentials and verification information. Lastly, maintaining professionalism and friendliness is important, so strive to use professional language to help you stand out.

Creating templates can help you organize your proposal, but the most successful freelancers will tailor it to suit the client and specific project. Spending extra time and effort upfront demonstrates your sincerity, enthusiasm, and professionalism.

  1. Build Relationships with Your Clients As a freelancer, your clients are your business. While this may seem obvious, it’s important to develop positive working relationships with your clients. Successful freelancers establish relationships with clients rather than viewing the job as a one-and-done task. Building long-term partnerships can lead to repeat business and new client referrals. Here are some key points to keep in mind when building relationships with your clients:
  • Deliver Excellent Work: High-quality work is necessary for client satisfaction. You need to provide value and solve the client’s problem to have a chance at building a long-term relationship with the client.
  • Communicate with Clients: Effective communication with clients will create a stronger business relationship and encourage clients to continue working with you for future projects.
  • Build Trust through Consistency: By consistently completing work on time and delivering accurate deliverables, you can build trust and prove that clients can rely on you in the future.
  • Seek Opportunities to Provide More Value: By being proactive, identifying new solutions, and taking on additional responsibilities, you demonstrate your potential value to clients and open up new ways to work together.

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