I am doing freelancing for last 8 years. It’s a long time. My career started when I was still a graduate student. In my final year at the university, I had two choices. First one is to take freelancing as a profession and stop continuing my grad studies. Or, continue my studies and take a break from my freelancing.
I did the second, I took a break from my freelancing.
After graduation, I could have taken a 9 to 5 job like others did in my class. Instead, I choose to come back to my old profession again. I started to build up connections again. If you are on the freelance profession you must know the value of connection.
I am here by choice and I took freelance or independent profession at my own will. This was no accident.
So, those of you who are interested in coming here, I advise them to think and plan properly before jumping in. Most of you fail to make a career in freelancing or blogging because you came here not by choice, but an accident.
You failed at something and you came here to learn to freelance because you thought this will be easy!
WRONG! you are very wrong. This is one of the most competitive job markets in the world. You will not make a living if you do not have the ability. In here no bribery works. You must stand on your own reputation.
I told this story to most newcomers when they come to seek help to me. This will make them strong and I also tell them about the failure attempts I made in this journey.
Now come to the point. If I had to give my best 3 suggestion to newcomers to this profession what will they be?
To be honest, I think there are far better suggestions and guides than what I have listed here. These are only a reflection of my experiences.
01. Communication Skill is the First Priority (Networking)
Communication skill is the 1st important thing a new freelancer should focus on. When you are trying to start a career in the online market, you are actually trying in an international market.
The online market is borderless, people talks different languages here. To get hired and reply to the messages, you need to learn the language of the market.
That language is “English”. If you do not know English well, chances of your getting hired online will get lower. Even some jobs will demand you to know other languages like French, Russian, Spanish etc.
I always advise people to learn English well before applying for jobs on a freelance marketplace. Here is a post I wrote back in the time when I started blogging:
Even at that time when I was still learning the basics, I knew that you must be good in communicative English.
Learning English is the first step, then you have to learn how to use it. That’s where networking comes. You can register for forums like Digital Point, WebMaster World, Black hat world, Warrior Forum etc. to group up with the people in the same market.
The best place to get hired and do networking is LinkedIn. LinkedIn provides the most versatile platform to network with fellow programmers, writers, and job hunters.
Several large companies hire through LinkedIn.
You have to learn, how to apply for a job correctly as I mentioned in the above post. A client always prefers the person who read the job posting carefully and writes the application correctly.
If you ask successful freelancers, 80% of them will confirm this fact that their English speaking, writing, and listening skill is better than most. They land most jobs because they spend enough time on networking. Their networking skill is better than you, also their network is vast.
Fact to be amazed:
It is also to remember that there are more jobs outside of freelance marketplace than posted in the Freelance sites.
Check out this blog: Tips for Online Job Hunting
02. Building Up New Skills and Improving the Old Ones
Freelancing profession depends solely on selling your skill set to the online market. You have some skills and someone needs your time and skill, then they hire you.
If you do not own any skill, you are not going to sell anything. Because you have no products to sell.
This is the reason I always say that you must learn a sell-able skill before want to jump in the market.
So, I assume you have one or several skills now you are working as a freelancer. But what next?
That means you can’t stay with only one single skill. You have to learn several.
I learned my coding from W3schools.
I am a blogger and improved my blogging over the time. This skill is increased through lots of reading and writing practice.
A previous client of mine taught me a lot about front-end designing. I worked with that company for 2 years.
03. Focus on Doing What You Love and Manage Your Time Properly
You can’t be skilled at everything and not every job is lovable too.
I do know coding and can go a long way with PHP, MySQL, basic jQuery etc. but I do not love coding that much. If I have to choose between Web Developing and Online Marketing, I will choose the second one.
This is because I love blogging and Online Marketing gives me the ability to blog more than I can in developing. So after a few years spending in the developing career, I have now switched to blogging and Online Marketing again.
I felt I can do better in this field. I am now focusing on the jobs I love most. This will sure give me more flexibility and love for the things I do.
I can develop my own sites, I can write and I know how to do marketing. Also, I am still learning new things every day. Does this ring a bell to you?
Yes, I have developed the skills to become a team leader.
I am now developing my own affiliate sites, creating content for them and doing SEO for them.
NAH! I do not do all of them myself. I have a team to do that. Most of the content I write myself and some of them are outsourced.
I develop the plan and I tell them what to do for SEO and Online Marketing, I lead the team.
I follow these to manage my time properly. Without managing the time I can’t complete a project properly. If you want to do all the things by yourself, you are not going to do it correctly.
Every week I spend some time to learn new things and improve my skills, for networking and saying hello to my clients and readers.
I will suggest new freelancers to take a break from work after each 2-3 months and develop a new skill for one month. This will add up to your profile.
If you do not take the break, after some years you will see that your earning is dropping.
Develop new skills, manage your time properly and someday you will be able to hire people for your own business.
All the best, Happy Freelancing!