How should I start doing freelancing? What are the main principles of how to become a freelancer? Sites like Upwork, etc. seem like they have too many applicants and you never hear after submitting proposals. First off, you are correct.
Upwork, Freelancer – Hire & Find Jobs, Guru, etc. all have a crazy amount of competition on there, but here’s the thing, it’s the internet and you will always have a lot of competition. I don’t care if you’re building an affiliate website or becoming a freelance engineer, you will always be competing against somebody else. That’s why it’s always best to find ways you can stand out, instead of hiding from the competition.
With that said, to give you a little background on why I’m even saying this – a few years ago I started as a freelance copywriter, and when I did, I literally had zero experience (or education) to back me up. On paper, clients had no reason to hire me, and that scared me at first – because I didn’t see how I would stand out in a crowd of experienced freelancers. But after taking a few courses and realizing it was possible, I started to use these tactics.
And within 3 weeks of doing so, I could start landing clients at $45/hr – not going any lower than that since.
Did this for a while and loved the results, but wanted to see if these principles could work for any skill – so I started creating new profiles and testing out different skills (which ended up getting me in trouble). But after doing this for many months and landing jobs (for myself, or other freelancers) in all 12 categories, I can assure you, these principles work – and here’s how you can use them to start your journey to those principles of how to become a freelancer.
Principle #1 – Always have a niche
This is hands down the hardest thing for new freelancers to understand, but if you start off as a “generalist”. Then you will always have trouble standing out. By generalist, I mean somebody who picks a certain skill (i.e. website developer) then offers it to everybody, and that works after you get some experience under your belt, but again – if you’re new.
Then you really want to target a certain niche. The reason this works well because clients love “relevancy”, and to give you an example of this. Let’s say you were the owner of a gym who was looking for somebody to help with a new Facebook Ad campaign. You know you can’t do this by yourself, so you go to Upwork, the world’s largest online workplace and post a job for this.
24 hours later you have 25 applicants ready to help, and after you scroll through the list of applicants, you see 24 Facebook Ad specialist and 1 Facebook Ad Specialist for the Fitness industry. Which one are you going to choose?
I don’t know about you, but I’d probably go with option #2. And that’s why it’s important to have a niche in the beginning.
Last as for finding your niche. The easiest method I’ve found is targeting a certain industry. This is far from the only method, just one that seems to be easiest for new freelancers to understand, and to give you a few examples of this, here you go:
- Copywriter for Tax Firms
- WordPress Developer for Dental Firms
- SEO Copywriter for Law Firms…
Etc, etc, etc.
Okay, now onto second principle how to become a freelancer:
Principle #2 – Have a profile that talks to the reader, not at them
I don’t know who messed this up for everybody else, but for some god-forsaken reason. People think they need to write Upwork profiles like a pretentious asshole. This usually looks something along the lines of:
“Sean Meyer is a professional copywriter that”. And I get it, I used to do that too, but I can assure you, that’s the last thing you want to do because it bores clients to death and scares them away. When you write a profile that talks to them – while also showing how you can benefit them. Then you’ll stand out right away.
To give you an example of this, here’s my best profile:
Principle #3 – Never go for the sale right away
Okay, so the first two principles of how to become a freelancer are very important and would help you stand out in themselves. But just to make sure we give you the entire package, let’s go over proposals now. So as somebody who also hires on Upwork, I can assure you – most freelancers submit terrible proposals as well. The main reason for this is because they go for the sale right away.
Instead of creating a decompression zone and learning more about the project, most clients think they need to sell right away, and even though that might work sometimes, it’s the last thing you want to do. Instead, the goal of every cover letter should get them to respond, because if there are 24 other freelancers out there going for the sale right away – and one that’s asking them a question (that hopefully gets them to reply).
Then you’ll stand out right away and can do all your “selling” after they message you back. As for what type of question you should use just ask them something that’s not too invasive, but at the same time, gets them to do a “knee-jerk” response.
Some common examples of this are:
- So what industry do you primarily work with?
- Do you know how many times you’ll be posting a blog every week?
- If you don’t mind, could you send me a link to your landing page? I’d love to check it out…
And to show you a cover letter that generated over $1K for me, here you go:
So, this was three of the main principles of how to become a freelancer. Hope that helps…