Starting a freelance job can be a thrilling and freeing decision. If you've carefully weighed the advantages and disadvantages discussed in my earlier article, Should You Quit Your Job and Start Freelancing? Considerations and Advice, and you're ready to make the leap, it's imperative to have a reliable action plan in place.

Let me give you a step-by-step walkthrough of what to do after deciding to start freelancing.

Define Your Freelancing Niche

Determine your niche or area of expertise before starting a freelance career. Choose the services you'll provide and the clientele you want to cater to. This clarity will help you establish a strong foundation for your freelancing business. The great thing about freelancing is that you can offer services for almost anything you are good at. 

To give you an idea, here are some of the jobs I did before I started freelancing full-time and how they helped me in landing clients:

Technical Support Specialist for a US Company:

I worked with a BPO company that helped me improve my typing speed, communication skills, and multitasking abilities. This experience was invaluable in handling multiple tools simultaneously and being an effective communicator.

Online English Teacher, Trainer, and Recruiter in a Japanese Company:

While working as a part-time ESL teacher, I noticed that some students would book my class solely to ask for help with proofreading their reports or presentations. This realization made me see that I could also offer proofreading services.

Additionally, my role as a trainer and recruiter opened doors for me to become a screener/recruiter for a North American company.

Throughout these roles, I also became proficient in using spreadsheets. There are so many jobs online that you can apply for that just need you to be good at using spreadsheets.

Colorist (Intern):

In 2014, I interned as a colorist in a post-production company, where I observed and learned from professionals. This experience gave me the confidence to offer photo editing services to food companies outside of the Philippines and edit product photos for various online sellers around the globe.

Graphic Designer and Web Designer:

With my college education in IT specializing in Digital Arts, combined with my passion for creating art, offering graphic and web design services to clients came naturally to me.

Because of my previous job experiences and the skills I acquired from them, I was able to impress potential clients and demonstrate the diverse range of services I could offer as a freelancer. Each role played a significant role in shaping my skills, expanding my expertise, and ultimately helping me land clients in different areas of my freelancing career.

Create A Professional Online Presence

To draw customers and create confidence, it is necessary to develop a professional online presence. Create a website for your portfolio that highlights your abilities, prior work, and client endorsements. Use websites like LinkedIn, UpWork, or Behance to promote your expertise and establish connections with possible customers.

Set Financial Goal And Create A Budget

Financial uncertainty is a part of freelancing, particularly in the beginning. To control your spending and guarantee an easy transition, set clear financial goals and make a budget. When choosing your rates and budget, take into account things like healthcare, retirement savings, taxes, and future company expenses.

Sidenote: In May 2023, I was hospitalized for the first time in my life because of a serious medical condition. I was in and out of the hospital for three weeks. I was told I could die. Lucky for me, I have health insurance! So please, please, before you dive into freelancing, make sure you have health insurance. Accidents can happen and it’s better to be safe and insured than to be in debt because of a medical condition you could never imagine you could get.

Network And Market Yourself

Any freelancer's success depends heavily on networking. Participate in industry gatherings, sign up for online forums, and network with experts in your sector. Work with other independent contractors, go to conferences, and use social media to build your network and demonstrate your skills. Don't undervalue the influence of word-of-mouth recommendations.

Develop A Marketing Strategy

Create a marketing plan to advertise your freelancing business. Think about digital marketing strategies including email marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and content production. Adapt your strategy to your target market and concentrate on fostering relationships with prospective customers.

Establish A Pricing Structure

Establishing your pricing system can be difficult, but it is important. Research industry norms, take into account your knowledge and skills, and assess your rivals. Choose whether you'll bill by the hour or by the job. Striking a balance between getting paid what you're worth and maintaining your competitiveness in the market is crucial.

Set Up A Legal And Financial Framework

Create a legal and financial structure to make sure you are in compliance with all legal and financial standards. Register your company, acquire any required licenses or permissions, and speak with an accountant to determine your tax liabilities. Open a separate company bank account to help you separate your personal and business finances.

Plan For Uncertainty

Working as a freelancer frequently includes unpredictable financial situations. Establish an emergency fund to cover unforeseen bills or gaps in income to prepare for financial volatility. You'll feel more at ease and be able to concentrate on expanding your freelance business if you have a safety net.

If you are able, find two or more clients. In freelancing, it’s not uncommon to get clients who are solely handling the day-to-day stuff in their businesses. In 2021, one of my clients had a medical emergency too and she was unable to reply to me for two weeks. I still continued what was expected of me but honestly, I was afraid during that time.

What if she’s gone? What if something bad happened to her? She was an entrepreneur who needed help with email newsletters. After two weeks, she sent me a long message apologizing and explaining what happened to her, and telling me how grateful she was for me still working and maintaining her business presence online. She quickly transferred my compensation for the weeks she was gone.

Refine Your Skills and Stay Updated

Freelancing requires continuous learning and skill development. Stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in your industry. Invest in online courses, attend webinars or workshops, and join professional associations to stay ahead of the curve. Enhancing your skills will help you deliver high-quality work and attract more clients.

Deliver Exceptional Client Service

For freelancers, client satisfaction is key. Set clear expectations, communicate clearly, and provide excellent work by the predetermined timeframes. Create enduring relationships with clients by exceeding their expectations and delivering superior service. Positive client feedback and recommendations are extremely valuable for your freelance work.

Key Takeaway

If done thoughtfully, starting a freelance profession may be a rewarding venture. You'll be more ready to start your freelance career if you stick to this action plan. Keep in mind that working as a freelancer demands commitment, perseverance, and ongoing education. You'll be well on your way to a rewarding and successful freelancing career with the correct attitude and a well-executed plan.