In between the chai breaks of your regular 9 to 5 job, have you ever wondered if you could leave all this behind, move to the hills, find your true-calling and start freelancing? Or are you someone looking to earn some extra bucks through freelancing but don’t know where to start?

If yes, we have curated this ultimate guide for freelancers just for you.

Starting a freelancing career can be daunting. There are no fixed monthly checks. While you can earn a handsome sum, there is always room for uncertainty. You would have to meet deadlines, maintain good relationships with your clients, build your brand, ensure you get paid on time and network constantly.

You wouldn’t have fixed working hours. Somedays, you would find yourself working round the clock on the last-minute changes your client wanted. And maybe, you won’t move to the hills. And there, you need a handy guide for freelancers, like this! 

However, if you have the skills and determination, you can become a pro in no time. Going gig is no mean feat, but success in this business demands consistency and time. Freelancing has enough room for everyone and great potential. 

Don’t believe us? Let’s look at some numbers. 

India is home to the second-highest number of freelancers in the world. It’s predicted that freelancers will contribute to 50 per cent of the nation’s workforce volumes, and the market size is estimated to touch USD 25 billion by 2025. 

Sixty per cent of Indian freelancers are under the age of 30 years, and the average income of freelancers across India is Rs 20 lakh per annum while 23 percent of them make over Rs 40 lakh per annum.

The battle is hot, time is money and companies are providing a fat cheque for specialists, but only a few make the count. So, read on to find how you can give yourself a head start with this guide for freelancers.

Choosing services and speciality 

First things first, you need to gain some expertise to monetize your skillset. Take time to establish yourself, enquire who can afford you, identify the current trends and see where your skill sets fit. Click To Tweet

Before you venture into the grind, as a freelancer, you have to decide with whom you can enjoy working to learn, earn and grow. Find the right clientele for your business. 

For instance, a developer will have to decide if they want to work with growing startups, take up project-based contracts or experience-based roles with enterprises. 

A generalist or a specialist?

Freelancing indeed allows you to do more things at the same time, but the question is that if a company is looking for a digital marketer to run and manage Google Ads and oversee campaigns will they hire a specialist or a jack of all trades? 

Let us say you are a developer who knows something from everything. It is going to be beneficial as your clients will recommend you to others about your ability to do everything. This would also help you survive the rainy days.

However, when the oven gets hot, it’s going to be very difficult for you to manage your specialities. Look at becoming a specialist as the bigger picture. 

So, start as a generalist but choose your field of expertise eventually. As you gain more experience, understanding the nitty-gritty of a particular subject would help you create a brand for yourself. Thus, keep your eye on the long-term goal. 

The dos of freelancing 

Start networking early

For freelancers, it is wise to learn the art of networking with people who can help you land paid projects or connect with suitable people. Make an impression, stay updated on social media, participate in conversations and make sure that you stand out.

Spend 20 minutes daily on the right platform that helps you meet new people and learn more. Maybe somebody will be interested in your portfolio. Perhaps somebody will land you on an exciting project.

Try freelancing before you leave your job 

It is always better to test the waters before you jump right into it. Think of it as a weekend gig. Build skills and start small. For example, if you are a designer, throw some cool designs for your friend’s wedding or other activities. 

If it hits, then word of mouth travels fast, and a project earned is a skill upgraded. Gather testimonials, build credibility, determine your pricing, because it all starts here. 

Create your portfolio 

As a freelancer, you are selling your services. So, a large part of it would require you to convince clients that you are their best option. It thus becomes important to put out your best work in the public. Click To Tweet

There are many websites like Behance, Dribbble, Coroflot, Adobe Portfolio, Carbonmade and many more. Choose wisely and see what fits your bill. Your portfolio is your chance to tell your story through your creativity. Leverage your previous work to justify the mentioned skills. 

If you are a writer, start a blog. If you are into social media, start a page and write about all your learnings. Start microblogging and tell the world your opinions on the latest trends. This will help you gain credibility. 

Sign a contract – always

As a beginner, this might be intriguing for some. But it is important to come to a mutual agreement before starting the work. The contract must have the details about the project, compensation, timeline, scope of work, late payment clause, jurisdiction and dispute resolution.

[Extended guide for freelancers here – Know how to create a freelancer contract in India]

The don’ts of freelancing 

Don’t say yes to every project 

Initially, you might say yes to every work that comes your way, but as you dive deeper into freelancing, it is recommended that you think about your work strategically. 

The Yes Man/Woman has to learn to say No. If you are a Python developer, then you shouldn’t sign up or entertain any JAVA oriented tasks or contracts. Simple.

Choose projects that interest you and never take a lot on your plate. As a freelancer, meeting deadlines and delivering quality must be of prime importance. 

Don’t overstretch your working hours

While you have the freedom to choose your ideal work timings, don’t overwork yourself. You are not entitled to answer clients outside the usual office hours. 

To ensure productivity, it is crucial to draw healthy lines between your work and your personal life. Give yourself a necessary break and don’t overwhelm yourself with work.

Don’t work for free

Know the value of the services and set a minimum price to it. Avoid giving away free lengthy samples. Sample work should be to know if you have prior knowledge on the subject and not a full-fledged project. 

Show your portfolio or attach links to similar work you have done in the past. While almost every client will ask you for your samples, try to avoid the ones that seem suspicious. 

Don’t trust everyone, sometimes even yourself

Trust yourself for the skills you have but don’t trust yourself for knowing everything. Ask the client’s expectations for the project. Understand the work in-depth, and keep your questions ready. 

Get to know the client well before you start working with them. A little research won’t hurt. It is also completely fine to part your professional ways with an old client. 

A guide for freelancers to get started

Now that we know what it takes to be a freelancer, how to get started? Finding the first gig can be a tricky task. However, with the right strategy, anyone can crack the code to get regular clients. Here are some ways you can find work online – 

Internships or part-time jobs

This is a good place to start. Getting part-time roles or internships would help you move ahead from being called a “beginner”.

You will gain the necessary experience, learn the skills and can use this to get more work. Initially, it can be difficult as you might not have a lot of acquaintances in the industry. So, you can start working with someone you know.

If they find the work to be good, they will refer you to someone else. And that’s how you will grow your network.

Freelancing websites

You can start by finding work on websites like Upwork or Fiverr. All you need to do is to create a profile and get started.

These websites will help you list your services and connect you with the right people who need them. The best part? You can get clients from all over the world.

Social media

Leverage your social media to create a brand for yourself. LinkedIn can be a great platform to get work.

Connect with prospective clients and put your work out there. Collect testimonials and references from old clients. Use social media as a medium to communicate with a larger audience. This will act as a support to your work.

If your work is noticeable, clients will reach out to you themselves. Moreover, building a personal brand will also help you establish yourself in the freelancing industry.

Cold-emails

Don’t just wait for the right opportunity, reach out for it. Pitch yourself to prospective clients. Tell them your offerings and how it would benefit them.

You might not get a response, or you might land yourself a great gig. Either way, it is a great shot to take. You can also reach out to them on professional sites like LinkedIn.  

Ensure you’re getting paid on time with Razorpay 

As a freelancer, payments can be a bit of a hassle. Creating invoices, sending payment reminders to clients, accepting payments from international clients—all of this can require a lot of your time and energy. And how can we miss proposing a solution to this in our guide for freelancers? 

We, at Razorpay, understand the trouble. Razorpay, with its unique freelancer-friendly products, will help you accept payments effortlessly. There are no setup charges, no annual maintenance fee and free of cost post-live support. 

Here’s how you can save yourself from the payments stress – 

  • All about payments, at one place – View the pending and disputed payments, send reminders to your clients, download reports, track payments and gain valuable insights about the performance of your business — all of it from your Razorpay dashboard.
  • Create GST invoices – Create GST-compliant invoices with Razorpay and share them across any platforms. You can also choose to accept partial payments via these invoices. 
  • Accept payments via various channels – You can accept payments through WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Email or even text. Just enter in the name of the customer and the amount due and send the generated  Razorpay Payment Link to the person who needs to pay you. 
  • Accept payment with a click – With Razorpay Payment Button, you can simply copy a line of code and add a customized button to accept re-directionless payment within a few minutes. Accept donations for a cause with just a click!
  • Build a brand with custom payment pages – Don’t have your website ready? With Razorpay Payment Pages, you can easily create a storefront for your online store in less than 5 minutes. 

Be sure you know what tax rate you’re subject to for your services as a Freelancer. Get GST inclusive and exclusive prices for your services with a GST calculator

Conclusion

As a freelancer, you become the brand, and the clients you serve in your domain become your portfolio. So, in the beginning, it can be a spaghetti situation, but eventually, you will learn to clean up your kitchen with the essential tools.

While the predictions for the future are good, freelancing has its own set of challenges. However, with adequate knowledge and experience, anyone can overcome these. Hopefully, this guide for freelancers can help you succeed in your journey.

What challenges have you faced as a freelancer? Let us know in the comments.

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Struggles to find words that rhyme, usually found brewing coffee and reading books in the meantime.

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