What Is Freelancing All About? The Ultimate Guide to Freelancing Basics

Freelancing has become increasingly popular among busy parents, digital nomads, and people looking for extra income. It’s a great way to make money on your own terms. But what is freelancing all about? Keep reading to learn the basics.

Freelancing can be a good option if you’re looking for a way to make money from home. However, it’s not for everyone. Keep reading to see if it’s a good fit for you.

What Is Freelancing?

Freelancing is when you work for yourself as an independent contractor rather than an employee of a company. This means instead of getting a W2 for tax purposes, you report your income on a 1099.

As a freelancer, you’re responsible for finding your clients, negotiating your terms, and invoicing to get paid. You’ll also have to pay taxes (including self-employment tax).

Freelancing can be done in practically any field, including writing, graphic design, web development, and social media management. You can be a remote freelancer and work from your home or do in-person work where you meet with different clients on-site.

What Makes Freelancing Different from a Regular Job?

While jobs and freelancing both require you get work done for others, they’re not the same. As a freelancer, you can set your own hours and choose which projects you accept. You can turn down work if it doesn’t feel like a good fit.

There’s also no income cap for freelancers. You can make as much or as little money as you like, depending on how many clients you have and how hard you work.

However, since you’re not an employee, you won’t receive a regular paycheck every other Friday or have a time card to punch. Instead, you’ll have to invoice your clients to get paid.

You also won’t have employee benefits like health insurance or a company 401(k) plan. Instead, you’ll be responsible for your insurance coverage and must self-fund a retirement plan if you choose.

Freelancing Pros & Cons

While freelancing has been a fantastic choice for me (you can read my story here…), it’s not for everyone. Before you can know what freelancing is all about, you must consider the pros and cons of it.

The advantages include:

  • Flexible schedule
  • Work from anywhere
  • Pick and choose your clients and projects
  • No boss micromanaging you
  • Potentially higher earning potential
  • You can add new skills and expand your business
  • Can (often) work when your kids are present

But freelancing isn’t all sunshine and roses. Here are some downsides to think about:

  • Having to market yourself to find clients
  • Needing to handle your own taxes and paperwork
  • Having to juggle multiple clients at once
  • Limited job security since gigs can dry up

Only you can decide if the pros outweigh the cons.

For me, they do. But you’re different. So make sure to look at the big picture before diving into freelance work.

Common Misconceptions About Freelancing

In the years I’ve been freelancing, I’ve come across several misconceptions about this type of work. Here are a few of them:

It’s an easy way to make quick money

Oh, you can make money freelancing. But it’s not always quick or easy. It requires work, dedication, and perseverance. Building a successful freelance career takes time and effort so make sure your expectations are on point.

It’s risky

Freelancing can be risky, but so can a traditional job. At least with freelancing, you don’t have all your eggs tied up in one basket. Or at least, you shouldn’t.

To minimize risk and create sustainability, consider

  • Creating multiple income streams with various clients and services
  • Setting up contracts
  • Checking for red flags before sharing personal information
  • Using verified payment processors
  • Opening a separate business bank account

You must constantly hustle

Many people think that freelancers have to work around the clock to be successful. But that’s simply not true.

While you do need to be dedicated and put in the effort, freelancing offers you the opportunity for better work-life balance. By setting boundaries, managing your time wisely, and prioritizing self-care, you can avoid mental burnout and build a profitable freelance business.

Types of Freelancing

As mentioned above, freelancing covers a wide range of industries. Here are some common freelance positions:

For a list of 20 ways to make money freelancing, you can download my free Types of Freelancing PDF here:

As you read over the options, see which ones sound like a good match for your skills and talents. Ideally, you want to start by offering freelance services that build on your current knowledge and experience. That way, you don’t have as much of a learning curve.

But no matter what you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy. No one wants to freelance in a field they hate.

Skills Required for Freelancing

Freelancing requires a unique set of skills and qualities. Here are some of the most essential:

  • Self-discipline: You won’t have a boss breathing over your shoulder, reminding you to finish your work. You must do it on your own.
  • Effective communication: Even if you’re working alone in your home, freelancing still requires interactions with others – from clients to collaborators.
  • Organizational skills: When you’re tracking multiple deadlines for ongoing projects and trying to keep each clients’ processes straight, you’ve got to have some level of organization. Otherwise you’ll drive yourself (and your clients) crazy.
  • Flexibility: No matter how many plans and contingencies you develop, life happens. Things won’t go as planned. And you have two choices – adapt or quit. If you can embrace the flexibility, you’ll be much better off.

Of course, you’ll also need skills in the services you provide. But since those are so varied, it’d be impossible to list them all here.

Tips for Finding Clients

You know what services you’re going to offer. But who in the world are you supposed to offer them to? How do you get your first clients?

Many people recommend starting out with freelance job platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. But, I don’t think that’s a great idea. Instead, I recommend finding your own clients from the beginning.

Here are four ways to do that:

  • Use a job board like the one on ProBlogger (it’s where I found my first gig!)
  • Check the “gigs” section on Craigslist in major cities (like LA or New York)
  • Contact local businesses without a solid online presence
  • Check social media for brands you’d love to work with – many post opportunities there

Eventually, you can create your own freelance website to generate your own leads. But you don’t have to start it right now. You can absolutely get started without one.

If you’re wondering how to find gigs on a job board, I made a quick video explaining what I do:

Create a Freelance Portfolio

Even if you don’t have experience yet, it’s important to show that you can do the work required for the gig you’re trying to land. Your freelance portoflio can do that.

It can be as simple as a Google doc with links to work you’ve done, or as elaborate as a fancy website. Here’s my current freelance writing portfolio. I tried to keep it simple!

Your portfolio should:

  • Showcase your capabilities and expertise
  • Share your best work samples
  • Be updated regularly

Getting Started as a Freelancer

Now that you have a better idea about what freelancing is all about, it’s time to get started. Here are a few tips to help you move in the right direction:

  • Start small: You don’t have to take on big projects right away or sign year-long contracts. Get your feet wet with smaller, one-off gigs.
  • Market yourself aggressively: Without marketing, you won’t get clients. So put yourself out there. Talk about what you’re doing on social media and pitch to clients regularly.
  • Network with others: Other freelancers are your colleagues – not your competitors. Get to know them and connect online (or in person if possible!)
  • Set your rates: Do some market research and make sure they’re fair. As a beginner, you might charge a little less initially – but don’t stay there!
  • Communicate along the way: Never forget the importance of communication. Communicate with your clients regularly to build better relationships and ensure you understand their expectations.
  • Don’t quit: You’ll be tempted to throw in the towel when things get tough. But I encourage you not to do that. You really can build a freelance business and make money from home.

What Is Freelancing All About?

Freelancing is all about working for yourself. It’s about building a career that supports flexibility and freedom. And while it’s an amazing choice for some people, it’s not for everyone.

If you need a little help getting your freelance business up and running, let me know. I love coaching other busy moms who are trying to make money from home as a freelancer. Learn more about my coaching services here.

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