50 Freelance Beginner Tips to Help You Grow

If you’re just starting your freelancing business, this article is for you! You’ll find 50 freelance beginner tips to help you grow. You’ll find tips broken down into the following categories, so feel free to navigate to the section you need most and start there!

Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

Oh – and before I forget, here is my disclosure:

This post has affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Freelance Beginner Tips for Getting Started

The tips in this section will help you pinpoint your business idea and get your business off the ground.

Decide What Services to Offer

The term “freelancer” applies to a wide range of professions, from graphic design and web development to virtual assistants and copywriters. Decide what industry you’re best suited for and brainstorm what services you’d like to offer within that field.

For example, if you want to become a freelance writer, you might decide to specialize in blog posts. Or perhaps you want to become a virtual assistant and help clients with project management.

You have tons of choices, so pick something that you enjoy.

And remember, this list doesn’t have to be permanent. You can always pivot later. So go with what feels right and get started.

Tell Your Network About Your New Business

Putting yourself out there is scary, but it’s important. Take a few moments and create a post on your social media accounts announcing your new business.

Explain what you’re going to offer and who you serve. Chances are someone in your network knows of someone who could use a little help in this area. It could lead to your first client.

But even if it doesn’t, it’s still a helpful exercise. Some of your biggest cheerleaders are in your existing network. And if they start sharing your content, it’ll help get your business in front of the right people.

Open a Business Bank Account

When you try to use your personal bank account to run your business, things get blurry rather quickly. Open a new account to prove that you’re running a legitimate business (and not just trying to get tax write-offs for a hobby).

You may have to seed it with some money from your personal account at first. But the goal is to keep your expenses low and turn a profit as quickly as possible.

Start Your Business Legally

I’m not a lawyer. So I’m not even going to pretend to know what you need to do in your location. But I do know that every location has its own requirements for how to legally open a business.

Do your due diligence and research what’s necessary. You may need to file for a business license or pay a fee. The Small Business Administration is a great place to start looking.

Apply for an EIN

Your social security number is personal data that can be used for so many illegal acts, so you don’t want to be sharing it online with your clients. To protect yourself, and help establish yourself as a real business, apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS.

It only takes a few minutes, so check this one off your to-do list today!

Tip: Write down your EIN and keep it in a safe (& secure) location so you can easily refer to it when needed.

Freelance Beginner Tips on Making Time for Your Business

Do you currently have time in your schedule to freelance? If not, these tips can help you clear your schedule and find a way to make it happen.

Say No to Some Commitments

There are only so many hours in a day. If you want to add a freelance business into the mix, you’ll need to make room for it. That means saying no to some commitments and activities.

As you evaluate your schedule, look at each item and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this important to me?
  • Is this necessary?
  • Do I enjoy doing this?
  • Can I find a less time-consuming way to do this?
  • Is there anyone else who could do this?

This exercise can help you prioritize your commitments and see which ones could be dropped. It can also help you to see if there’s a better season of life for starting your business.

For example, maybe you already committed to coaching your daughter’s softball team for the season. If so, you’ll have more time when the games end and that might be a better time to focus on your business.

Be flexible and creative when trying to carve out time.

Put Your Chores on Auto-Pilot

No, there’s no way to actually automate all the chores in your home. You’ll still need to do the work (unless you hire someone else or get your family involved.) But you can decide in advance when you’re going to do each chore.

Once you no longer have to think about it, you’ll free up mental space for your freelance business. You’ll also save yourself from decision fatigue AND your house will stay cleaner.

Here’s a post detailing how I keep my home (mostly) clean as a freelancing, homeschooling mom to 11:

How to Keep Your House Clean as a WAHM

Tip: As a part of putting things on auto-pilot, it helps to have some time-saving tools. I love how much faster I can get dinner on the table with an InstantPot and CrockPot. And I use my planner every day!

Take Advantage of Small Pockets of Time

It’s amazing how much you can get done in 15 minutes of focused time. Yet, often we’re quick to brush off these small chunks of time and play on our phones instead.

Our brains often tell us, “it’s only a few minutes. It’s not enough to do anything,” and we listen. So instead of being productive, we let those 15 minutes go by.

Take time now to plan for those small chunks of time. Make a list of what you can do in 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Then the next time you have a little space in your day, do something from your list.

Before long, you’ll look back and realize how far you’ve come.

Here are some ideas for what to include in your list:

5-Minute Freelancing Tasks

  • Follow an influencer in your niche on a social media platform and engage with a couple of their posts
  • Take a quick “behind the scenes” photo and share to Instagram
  • Outline a post
  • Write down 3-5 ideas for content
  • Create an invoice
  • Clear out your inbox of junk emails
  • Read an email so you can think about your response as you go through your day
  • Create a Pin to market yourself
  • Write down your top three priorities for the day

10-Minute Freelancing Tasks

  • Create a short “live” video with 3 quick tips for your ideal clients
  • Respond to an email
  • Do some research reading for a post
  • Review your website or social media analytics to see what’s working
  • Write an intro paragraph to a post
  • Brainstorm product ideas
  • Create a longer post for Facebook or another social media platform
  • Respond to comments on social media to build engagement
  • Add new backlinks to an existing piece of content
  • Research a new affiliate opportunity

15-Minute Freelancing Tasks

  • Draft a few sections of a blog post
  • Read a post aloud to edit it
  • Upload a post to WordPress and format it properly
  • Speed write a chapter for an upcoming book (just write, don’t edit)
  • Send a pitch (or two if you work quickly)
  • Plan out a content calendar
  • Write and schedule a few posts on social media
  • Map out a sales funnel
  • Create a plan for your day
  • Read a chapter from a business book
  • Do a lesson in a freelancing course

Of course, this list is focused more on a freelance writing business, since that’s what I do. But you can easily adapt it for your business.

Stop Overthinking

How much time have you spent thinking about starting a business? Or researching how to start a business? Or reading blog posts about starting a business?

How much could you have accomplished if you would have taken action instead of doing all that thinking?

Stop overthinking and get to work! Take those first steps, no matter how small they are and keep moving forward. It’s the only way you’ll start a successful business.

Tip: If you struggle in this area, read Jon Acuff’s book Soundtracks. It’s full of helpful advice to help you stop overthinking.

Analyze Your Schedule

When does it make sense for you to work? Getting up earlier isn’t a great solution if you’re not a morning person. Likewise, if you’re yawning by 9 pm, staying up later probably won’t work for you.

Since you’re unique, you must devise a work schedule that works for you instead of against you.

Try to find 2-3 blocks of time you can spend on your business. Here are a few suggestions:

  • In the morning, before my other commitments
  • During my lunch break
  • During the kids’ quiet time
  • While on the bus during a commute
  • While dinner is in the oven
  • When the kids go to sleep
  • Late at night, when everything else is done

If you look closely at your schedule, you’re sure to find a couple of periods you could devote to your business, at least a few days a week.

Tips on Staying Organized as a Beginner Freelancer

If you aren’t organized, you’ll have difficulty running (and growing) your business.

Find a Scheduling Tool That Works for You

Whether you use an online calendar, an Excel spreadsheet, a planner, or a piece of paper, you need to have a way to track your deadlines and break things down into smaller chunks.

The key is to find something that works for you. No matter how good a tool is, you won’t use it consistently if it doesn’t work for you. So don’t force yourself to use an app if you’re a pen-and-paper person.

Avoid Digital Clutter

How’s your Google Drive or Dropbox looking? Are you putting things in folders that make sense to you? Or are you just saving everything in one spot?

Digital clutter leads to overwhelm. To avoid this, review your files every week, purging ones that are no longer needed, and carefully organize the rest.

Set up a system that works for you, such as having a file for each client or each type of project you’re working on. However you do it, make sure it makes sense in case you need to find something again later.

Regularly Prioritize Tasks

If you spend too much time on low-priority tasks, you’ll quickly run out of time and not move the needle on your business.

Take a few moments each day to review your tasks and prioritize the most important ones. This will help ensure you’re focusing on the right activities.

Don’t Let Emails Pile Up

Inboxes can become a maddening place if they’re not dealt with frequently. So review your new messages at least twice a day. Do one of five things with each one:

  • Delete immediately
  • Read and delete
  • Read and move to a file for reference later
  • Read and take action
  • Read and save it in a specific file for taking action with later

And remember, there’s no shame in unsubscribing from a list you no longer follow. So if you constantly delete emails from the same company, it’s probably time to hit the unsubscribe button. You can always join the list again later.

Controlling your inbox will make you less likely to miss important client emails.

Block Out Time for Personal Projects

It’s easy to get lost in client work — after all, that’s how you make money. But if you don’t spend any time working on your business, you won’t grow as quickly.

So treat yourself like a client and block out a few weekly hours to spend on personal projects. This could be anything from writing an eBook to refreshing your website.

Doing this can help you recharge your batteries and feel like you have more breathing room.

Freelance Beginner Tips on Paperwork & Invoicing

When you’re a freelancer, you typically don’t get paid every other Friday automatically. You also don’t have a time card to punch.

Instead, you must send invoices to your clients and maintain your business books. These tips can help you with that.

Clarify Invoicing Procedures Before Working with Clients

The last thing you want to do is submit a bunch of work for a client only to realize you have no idea when or how to invoice them. To avoid this situation, always clarify invoicing before you begin working.

In addition, take time to get the procedures in writing. That way, you have something to fall back on if the client doesn’t pay.

Pick Invoicing Software and Stick with It

If your client doesn’t have a specific way to invoice (some require a specific form or invoicing through PayPal, for instance), pick a program to use. And then stick with it.

When I first started, I used Microsoft Word to generate each invoice. While it worked, it was tedious. And hard to use for reporting purposes. I had to track my income throughout the month manually.

So about six months after I started, I switched to Wave Apps. And I’ve been using it ever since. I’m getting ready to send invoice #400 in a few days!

With Wave, I can personalize my invoices, collect payments, and quickly get a year-to-date picture of how my business is doing. I highly recommend this program! And did I mention that it’s free?

Track Your Income and Expenses

As business owners, freelancers can write off certain business expenses. But you can’t take advantage of that unless you keep track of your spending (and hang onto the receipt.)

So develop a system for tracking your income and expenses each month. Learn to create a simple PNL statement to see how your business is doing.

If you want an Excel spreadsheet for this, you can purchase the one I use here for only $2.49.

Remember to Save for Taxes

When you’re self-employed, you don’t have an employer covering your FICA taxes each month. That means you have to pay them.

Remember to save part of each invoice for your taxes. An accountant can help you determine how much based on your unique financial situation.

Stay on Top of Your Paperwork

If you’re recording your paperwork regularly, it won’t take too long. But if you let it pile up for months, it’ll take you hours and a lot of heartache to go through it all.

So put “paperwork” or “bookkeeping” on your calendar and spend a little time each week taking care of it.

Beginner Freelancing Tips on Life-Work Balance

If you’re not careful, your business can quickly consume your life. These tips can help you achieve a better life-work balance.

Set Boundaries

You don’t have to be at your client’s beck and call. Set boundaries with clients and make it clear when you’re available and when you’re not. This will help prevent burnout as your business grows.

Take Time for Yourself

Remember to take time for yourself. Schedule breaks, vacations, and nights off so you don’t get overwhelmed by work. Even if it’s just an hour or two every week, carve out time to relax and recharge.

Remember to take care of your physical health too. Ensure you get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and exercise regularly. Since you’re likely sitting at a desk while working, use an Apple Watch or Fitbit to help you remember to get up and move.

This will help keep you energized and productive.

Take Breaks

Sitting down and plowing through one task after another is a recipe for burnout. The longer you sit and focus, the worse your productivity becomes.

It’s essential to take breaks regularly. Try to get in a five- or ten-minute break every hour. Go stretch, drink water, spend a little time with your kids, or otherwise clear your brain from work so you can come back refreshed.

Breaks really do boost your productivity!

Get Enough Sleep

It’s easy to stay up late working on a project or checking email. But your work will suffer if you don’t get enough sleep.

Try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. This will help keep you alert and productive during the day.

Realize that Perfect Balance Is Unachievable

Balance is a misnomer. It makes you think of life like a balance scale, where true balance is possible. Unfortunately, life isn’t quite like that.

Instead, I like to think of it as a juggling act. You can keep two or three balls going, but one will always be higher than the others. There’ll be seasons when you pour yourself into your business. Then there’ll be other times when your family or personal time get more attention.

This is normal. Remember not to leave one ball in the air for too long. You must keep them moving to accomodate changes that come your way.

Tips on Finding Clients as a Beginning Freelancer

When you’re self-employed, you’ve got to find clients. These freelance beginner tips can help you find your first paying clients.

For more tips in this area, check out Gina Horkey’s awesome freelance courses!

Network and Build Relationships

Networking is crucial to finding work as a freelancer. Connect with people online, join Facebook Groups related to your industry, attend conferences and workshops, and join professional organizations in your field.

You never know who can give you an introduction or help you land your first gig, so keep putting yourself out there.

Create a Professional Portfolio

How do you show potential clients that you have what it takes to get the job done well? With your portfolio, of course!

This showcases your work and includes specific examples that clients can review. It gives them a better sense of your style and voice and highlights your experience.

Create one on your website, a freelance portfolio site, or even in a basic Google doc that you can share. Remember to keep it updated as you develop more samples. Only include the best-of-the-best in it.

Give Job Boards a Try

I found my first paying client on the ProBlogger job board. I’ve found others on there since then

Look for sites like this in your industry and send pitches to the ones you’re interested in. Keep your pitch short and sweet, and include the following information:

  • Where you found the gig
  • Why you’re a good fit
  • A link to your portfolio
  • Any requested information (always read the whole thing and follow the directions!)

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Many companies post work on social media platforms, so follow your dream clients on social media like Instagram and Twitter. Engage with their posts, comment thoughtfully, and share relevant content yourself.

The more you build relationships with potential clients online, the better your chances of landing a great gig!

While you’re on social media, get in the habit of checking relevant hashtags regularly. Look for #freelancerwanted, #hiring, and niche-specific hashtags.

Ask for Referrals

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from friends or family members who might know someone in need of your services.

You never know who could put you in touch with the perfect client or even turn into one themself.

Beginner Freelancer Tips on Pricing Strategies

Wondering how to set your rates as a freelancer? Give these tips a read-through!

Don’t Work for Free

Even when you’re just starting, your work is valuable. It’s worth something. So barter or charge less than you usually would if you aren’t comfortable charging your full rate yet. But don’t work for free!

Research Rates

Research the market rate for freelance work in your region and adjust accordingly. That way, you can determine a fair rate that will both make you money and leave clients satisfied with the services they receive.

Don’t Charge by the Hour

You aren’t an employee – don’t limit yourself to hourly wages. Instead, create a custom quote that is billed by the project or word. Here’s why:

  • Hourly wages punish you for getting better – there’s no incentive to work faster
  • You don’t have to account for your time
  • Tracking your hours is a pain, especially if you’re working from home with kids and dealing with some interruptions
  • Hourly wages typically attract lower-hanging clients
  • Most clients have a cap in mind about how much they’ll pay hourly

At first, you might lose money if you aren’t careful about building your quotes. But as you gain experience, you’ll better understand how long something will take you. And you can use an hourly wage in your mind to set a project-based rate.

Retainer Clients Can Help You Have More Predictable Income

A retainer is an agreement between you and a clien where they pay you a certain amount each month (or on another schedule) for a set of services. This gives you a more prictable income and makes it easier to play out your budget.

Be Clear on the Scope

Scope creep is real. It’s when a client keeps adding more and more work to your job without increasing your price.

Setting clear expectations on the scope of your work and agreeing to it upfront will help you avoid any disagreements or misunderstandings in the future.

Tips on Marketing Yourself as a Beginner Freelancer

You can’t just launch your business and expect clients to flock to you. Instead, you’ve got to market yourself regularly. Use these tips to drum up more business and get your company top-of-mind.

Make Marketing a Priority

Even when you have work, keep marketing. Otherwise, you’ll face the dreaded freelance famine when everything dries up at once. Put aside time every week – even if it’s just an hour – to check out job boards, reach out to past clients, and build relationships with potential leads.

Build a Freelancing Website

While you don’t need a website to launch your business, it is an effective marketing tool once you have generated the money to pay for it. A website lets you showcase your portfolio and services and build an email list for potential leads.

Tip: Make sure your website is designed with your clients in mind. This post features 15 freelance writing websites and details what yours should include.

Connect with Other Freelancers

Stop viewing other freelancers as your competitors and start thinking about them as your coworkers.

Connecting with other freelancers can help you find new clients, get advice on pricing or contracts, and even build relationships that may lead to business down the line.

Consider joining a freelancer directory to find other professionals in your field.

Utilize SEO in Your Marketing

What services are your ideal clients searching for? Are they using specific keywords? If so, be sure to include those keywords in your website, blog posts, and social media content.

Doing so will help increase the visibility of your business when potential clients are searching online.

Niche Down and Build Authority in that Field

While it’s tempting to try and offer a variety of services, narrowing your focus can have many benefits. It will help you become an expert in that area and make it easier to market yourself when potential clients are looking for someone with your specific skill set.

To build authority in your niche, start a blog and create content that will help you attract the right clients. This could include writing articles, creating videos, or creating an online course related to your services. You could also write an eBook to show off your knowledge and expertise.

Beginner Freelancing Tips on Working from Home with Kids

Working from home with kids is challenging but not impossible. As a freelancing mom of 11 (who also homeschools), I developed a few tricks for getting more done when the kids are home. Let’s look at those now.

Premake Your Decisions

As much as possible, make decisions in advance. This helps you streamline your day, avoid saying yes to something you’d normally say no to, and reduces decision fatigue. So what can you decide in advance?

  • When you’re going to work
  • Whether or not screens are allowed while you work
  • What your kids should do if you have a client call
  • What’s for dinner (and lunch, and breakfast)
  • Which chores get done when

Basically, if it’s a decision you have to make multiple times in a day or throughout the week, decide in advance. A few minutes of pre-planning will help you tremendously.

Make a List of Approved Activities

When you’re busy working, it’s not a great time to decide if your child can paint, play outside, or eat some candy. You’re not thinking clearly, as your work distracts you. And kids pick up on this quickly! Then they start asking about all sorts of things.

To help give your kids some independence during this time but still ensure they’re doing things you’d approve of, create a list of 25-50 things they can do while you work.

Ideally, this list will be age appropriate and customized for your child. To get you started, review these articles:

Spend Meaningful Time with Your Kids

You can’t rush your kids from one activity to another and expect your relationship with them to flourish. Instead, make time for meaningful contact with them. Put the phone away, shut down your computer, and do something together.

I make it a point to have family playtime every day, where we do something together. Then each night I spend about 30 minutes 1:1 with one kiddo. This works for us. Find what works for you.

Make Sure Your Kids Know What You Do

If you suddenly start spending more time on your phone or computer, your kids might not realize you’re working. They might assume you’re checking out and ignoring them more than usual.

To help prevent them from feeling resentful, make sure you explain your new business. Tell them about it and celebrate your wins together.

For help, read this post: How to Get Your Family Onboard with Your Business

Ask Your Kids To Help

What can your kids do to help? A lot! Here are some suggestions:

  • Entertain younger siblings while you work
  • Help cook or clean more
  • Proofread your posts (or read them aloud to you so you can make changes)
  • Help with your books
  • Take photos
  • Tackle some beginning graphic design
  • Video editing
  • Social media tasks

Think about your child’s talents and abilities and go from there. Work together as a team and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish!

5 Mom Bloggers Share How Their Kids Help Them Blog

Freelancing Beginner Tips for Staying Motivated

Freelancing isn’t easy. And some days, you might be tempted to quit. When that happens, these freelance beginner tips can help!

Have a Why

Start with understanding why you’re doing this freelance thing in the first place. What’s the bigger purpose?

It could be financial freedom, staying home with your family, or simply having more time for yourself.

Remind yourself of your why every day, which will help you stay motivated. Write it down and put it somewhere so you can see it regularly.

Set Business Goals

Long-term business goals will help keep you focused on what needs to be done. These could include getting your first ten clients, increasing your rates by a certain percentage, or launching a new website.

Once you set a goal, break it down into bite-sized chunks to help you accomplish them.

Celebrate Your Wins

Whenever you achieve something – no matter how small – celebrate it! Acknowledge your successes and be proud of yourself.

Create a Regular Work Space

It’s no fun to work if you’ve got to track down all your things beforehand. Have a dedicated workspace in your home where you keep everything. Then, keep it organized and clutter-free. Buy a couple of cute things for it, or hang up pictures or motivational quotes.

Having your own space can make it easier to sit down and finish some work.

Take Predictable Time Off

I’m not too fond of working weekends. Or on holidays. These regular breaks from work help keep me from burning out.

It’s important to have regular, predictable off-time from your business. Step away from things for a while, and you’ll be amazed at how much more motivated you are to return.

Put These Freelancing Beginner Tips to Work for You

You can do this freelancing thing! And these beginner freelancing tips can help make your goals ar reality. So pick one or two to get started with and go from there. Small changes over time really do lead to great things.

You’ve got this!

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