I’m going to be frank with you.
Freelancing with a full-time job is stressful.
I don’t recommend you do it if you don’t have thick skin.
But if you are still interested, here are a couple of tips on how to survive freelancing while having a full-time job.
Set Your Standards
For freelancing, you need to have the right mindset.
A lot of people will tell you that in the beginning, you need to lowball your offer to land clients.
And it’s true unless you have previous clients or have no work experience.
But since you already have a full-time job and presumably you want to work with clients in the same niche, you can be picky with your clients.
Now, will you land clients right away? I don’t think so. No one does.
Over time you will learn how to offer your services and how to pitch to clients. You will get your lucky break one day if you be persistent at it.
So set your standards high and don’t work on a project just because you don’t have anything else on your plate at the moment.
Know Your Trade
It’s surprising how many people think they can be Web Developers with two weekend worth of learning HTML/CSS.
You can do some email templates or make a basic website for a friend but it will be very hard to get a stranger to trust you if you don’t have experience.
This goes for every type of contract work whether you are a developer, designer or writer.
You MUST know what the hell are you doing. Or, you know, have a high-level overview of what the hell you are doing.
Build a Portfolio Website
Having a portfolio website with your personal/hobby/learning projects is better than having no website at all.
There are a ton of solutions that come in mind that can help you out here. Try Wordpress, Hugo, Jekyll, Gatsby. They are all great platforms and can help you create a beautiful website in minutes.
You should also have some public projects so your potential clients can have a taste of your skill without asking for ‘test project’.
If you are a designer have Dribble or Behance or Pinterest account.
If you are a developer have a Github profile.
If you are a writer create a Wordpress blog.
If you are a musician make a YouTube channel or make a SoundCloud account.
Here are some tips for awesome portfolio site.
It’s important to put yourself out there so people have a better idea of who you are and what you do.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
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Have Many Sources of Potential Clients
We all know of big platforms in the freelance marketplace like Upwork or Freelancer.
I had a pretty bad experience with them. Yes, you do have a lot of nice people there.
For every good client I’ve had I had also five that are out of this world bad.
Avoid these platforms and use your social media and personal networks. I use r/forhire on Reddit but you can use Facebook Groups, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.
I know a guy that got his tech support gig via damn eBay.
Although there are thousands of sources of potential clients you still can’t land one?
Show off your work EVERYWHERE. D
id you make a cool logo for a fictional company? Slap it on r/logodesign
You’ve composed a killer beat for parties? Why not post it on YouTube so everyone can enjoy it?
You’ve drawn your favorite League of Legends character? Share it on Instagram.
Social media is an endless pool of potential clients. Some of them may not even know they need your skills until you show them what you got.
Price Yourself the Right Way
No matter what, don’t charge below $15-25 an hour.
And $15-25 is ridiculously low.
I made this mistake so many times that it’s embarrassing.
Especially where the client wanted me to give an estimate of how many hours I will need for a specific project.
You are a human. You’ve got needs. You need money. Don’t undervalue yourself.
You didn’t waste your precious time perfecting your trade so someone can use you because you don’t know how to price your freelance services.
This is the price you should charge when you’re starting and building your portfolio.
Once you’ve got a couple of clients under your belt you should start charging more.
You don’t charge just for the time you are working on the project. You are pricing the time you are working on the project and the time it took you to learn the skills you need.
Never Work for Free
This one is biased and opinionated but don’t work for free.
Do they want to see what you can do?
Just point them to your portfolio website.
There should be plenty of examples of your best work.
Help Out Others
If you are flooded with work or client offers you a gig for something that you have no idea how to do (asking a web developer to do web designers job is pretty frequent) and you know a buddy freelancer that can do it, ask him if he’s interested in it.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to improve your connections. It costs you nothing.
Your client is happy. And it’s a boost to your network.
What else is there to wish for in these kinds of situations?
Who knows? Maybe someday it will be the other way around.
Take Care of Yourself
My number one rule of running a freelance business is Don’t burn out.
Burnout is real and it’s a bad thing for you. It’s the state of mind where you don’t just feel like working.
I’ve been there a couple of times.
Learn to manage your time.
Don’t go ‘Oh, I will work as much as I can’ or ‘After I come back from work, I will grab something to eat and work on this project until it’s time to sleep’. Take it easy sometimes. It’s not all about the money.
And if your mental and/or physical state gets bad (and it will if you push yourself too hard often), you won’t be able to work which means less money for you.
These are my advice for anyone who is looking to step in the world of freelancing or has already made his/her first steps.
I guarantee that by following these tips and having the right mindset you are ready to start making that dough.
It’s a journey, not a race. Take your time.
It took me almost two years of trying out new things before I landed my first serious gig.
Freelancing is trading your time for money. Value of your time = skills you have.
But at first, you had to exchange your time to get the skill you now have.
Don’t forget to keep doing that.
The more skilled you are, the more your time is valuable.
Yes, meeting deadlines is important but set aside a couple of hours per week to catch up on the latest framework everyone is talking about the last couple of months or this cool new UX tool.