The Ins And Outs Of Freelancing: A Beginner’s Guide

Is freelancing right for you? That’s a question only you can answer. But if the idea of working from home and being your own boss appeals to you, then it might just be time to jump into the freelance world! 

Here are some tips for making sure your first few months as an independent worker go off without a hitch:

The Beginner’s Guide to Freelancing in 2023
Freelancing offers greater flexibility and the potential for higher earnings, but also requires self-discipline and the ability to handle all aspects of your business.
Effective time management is crucial for freelancers to maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout.
Freelancers must be able to market themselves efficiently to stand out in a crowded field, build a strong client base, and grow their business.
Networking is essential for freelancers to expand their professional network, identify relevant job opportunities, and collaborate with like-minded professionals.
A strong focus on self-care is vital for freelancers to maintain their health, wellbeing, and productivity while managing their business.

1. Set Up A Home Office

The first step to freelance is setting up your home office. This will be a place for you to do all of your work, so it’s important that it’s quiet and private. 

You should also have a comfortable chair with wheels (for easy transport) and desk space that can accommodate both the computer you plan on using and any other tools you’ll need.

A filing system is essential if you want to keep track of everything—and trust me, this comes in handy more often than not! 

It doesn’t have to be fancy: just get some folders or manila envelopes at the dollar store and label them with what each one contains (taxes, invoices, etc.). If possible, keep these files accessible in one place because they’ll come in handy when tax season rolls around and it’s time for you to dig into those receipts again! 

Finally, having a calendar where all pertinent dates are written down will help avoid any unexpected surprises when deadlines approach; try using an online calendar like Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook so that everyone involved has access if needed. 

Finally… make sure your internet connection is fast enough for whatever tasks might crop up during those long nights at home by yourself doing what should be simple but gets complicated quickly under pressure!

Time management is vital for freelancers to balance work and personal life. Check out our guide on freelancing and time management to learn useful tips on establishing a routine, setting boundaries and avoiding burnout.

2. Find Your Niche

The next step is to find your niche. You need to do this before you start freelancing because it will help guide you in making decisions and determining which clients are right for you. 

Your niche is basically a specific area of expertise that allows you to stand out from other freelancers. For example, if I’m an artist and have been drawing since I was young, I could choose to focus on cartoons or illustrations for children’s books as my specific area of expertise.

If you’re struggling with finding a niche, just think about what makes up most of your day-to-day life: what do you enjoy doing? What activities keep your mind engaged? 

If it’s video games or cooking then perhaps there are ways those hobbies could translate into becoming a freelance writer or graphic designer respectively! 

Figure out where your interests lie and build around that knowledge so as not only make money but enjoy yourself too!

Most Popular Freelancing Niche Areas

Specialization AreaDescription
Writing and TranslationIncludes content writing, editing, proofreading, and translation services. Popular freelancing platforms in this area include Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.
Web and Software DevelopmentIncludes services such as web development, mobile app development, and software support. Popular freelancing platforms in this area include Toptal, Gigster, and Codeable.
Design and CreativesIncludes services such as graphic design, web design, and video production. Popular freelancing platforms in this area include 99designs, Dribbble, and Behance.
Marketing and AdvertisingIncludes services such as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and email marketing. Popular freelancing platforms in this area include Hubstaff Talent, GrowthHackers, and PeoplePerHour.
Admin SupportIncludes services such as customer support, data entry, and virtual assistant work. Popular freelancing platforms in this area include Time Etc, Upwork, and Virtual Staff Finder.

Note: Above listed freelancing platforms are just examples and not an exhaustive list.

3. Have A Good Attitude

A good attitude is necessary to be successful in freelancing. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re just starting out and clients aren’t paying attention to your work, but don’t take it personally. 

There have been many times where I’ve made the mistake of thinking that a potential client didn’t like my work simply because they didn’t respond right away or never got back to me at all. 

Don’t worry it doesn’t mean anything! Clients will be more likely to hire you if they like your attitude, even if they don’t end up using your services or buying what you sell.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help either! Freelancing isn’t just about the money—it can also give you access to valuable resources like industry contacts and training programs (like those on Upwork). 

The best part about Upwork is that it has an active community where other freelancers can share knowledge about various topics related directly with freelancing itself: marketing strategies, resume building tips, etcetera… 

When I first started out as a writer on Upwork six months ago I was clueless as far as marketing myself goes–but now thanks primarily due my involvement within this community I’ve gotten better at self-promotion which has helped me land some great gigs!

Just remember – no matter how hard things seem sometimes there will always come along opportunities which could change everything from bad into good 🙂

As a freelancer, marketing yourself efficiently is the key to standing out in a crowded field. Our article on marketing for freelancers provides useful insights on creating a personal branding strategy, leveraging social media and other effective approaches.

4. Network

Networking is a key part of any freelance job, and you can’t succeed if you don’t know how to do it. The following tips will help you get the most out of networking:

Create a network of contacts. This can be done by attending meetups and events, joining social groups or forums where freelancers are active (for example, Freelancer’s Union), and participating in online communities such as Facebook groups for freelancers.

Make sure your profile is complete and up-to-date, with links to your portfolio site or portfolio sites from previous clients so potential employers will have access to what work you’ve done before.

Ready? Go! Start making connections with other people who have similar interests and goals as yourself—the more diverse the range of personalities involved in these interactions, the better off you’ll be when looking for jobs later down the road because there’ll always be someone out there who needs something done just like yours.”

Top Freelancer Networking Platforms

Platform NameDescription
LinkedInA career-oriented platform that allows freelancers to connect with other professionals in their niche, create a personal profile, and showcase their work experience. It also offers access to industry-specific groups and job postings.
MeetupA networking platform that allows freelancers to join groups related to their interests and attend events, meetings, and webinars. This platform offers opportunities to meet like-minded professionals, collaborate on projects, and expand professional networks.
Freelancer’s UnionA platform dedicated to serving freelancers that provides various services such as job postings, healthcare services, legal advice, contracts, and invoices. It also offers a sense of community and provides opportunities to network with other freelancers.
SlackA messaging app designed for team communication but widely used by freelancers and small businesses for remote communication. Users can create channels for different topics, share files and communicate with clients and team members.
WeWorkRemotelyA job board dedicated to remote careers, WeWorkRemotely is a go-to platform for hiring remote freelancers and connecting with like-minded professionals. The platform posts thousands of remote job opportunities across multiple categories, including development, design, marketing, and customer support.

Note: Above listed networking platforms are just examples and not an exhaustive list.

5. Do What You Love

As a freelancer, it’s important to find what you enjoy doing. If you’re not passionate about what you’re making, there won’t be much drive behind it. If your client is happy with the end product and so are you, then all the better!

The most successful freelancers are people who do what they love and nothing else. They’re self-motivated and willing to work hard at their craft because they feel strongly about it. 

You should have an idea of what type of career path or project makes your heart go pitter-patter—whether that’s teaching yoga classes or building websites for local businesses, whatever floats your boat!

Managing finances is an essential aspect of running a successful freelancing business, and our guide on managing finances as a freelancer offers practical tips on budgeting, invoices, taxes and more.

6. Learn How To Write A Killer Proposal

If you’re like most freelancers, you probably have multiple proposals to write before clients will even consider hiring you. The first step to writing a winning proposal is knowing what not to do. Avoid these common mistakes:

Don’t get too salesy. Your potential client might be more interested in a personal touch than they are in hearing about all your past achievements and accolades.

Don’t focus on yourself too much. When describing your previous work experience and specific skillset, try to focus on how those skills will help them achieve their goals rather than just rattling off a list of projects that other people hired you for in the past.

Don’t bury the lede (or “lead”). Remember that this document serves as an introduction for both parties—so keep it simple! 

In other words: Give them what they need right away instead of trying to impress them with complicated paragraphs or jargon-filled sentences that will confuse more than enlighten.

Top Platforms to Create Freelance Proposals

Platform NameDescription
ProposifyA cloud-based proposal software that allows freelancers to create professional, customizable proposals quickly. It offers various templates, integrations, and tracking features to help freelancers create the perfect proposal.
BonsaiAn all-in-one suite of tools for freelancers, including proposal building, invoicing, and project management. Bonsai’s proposal builder allows freelancers to create, customize, and send proposals directly from the platform.
Better ProposalsA proposal creation platform that allows freelancers to create interactive proposals with customizable templates, online signatures, and tracking. It also integrates with various tools such as CRM and project management tools.
QwilrA proposal software that helps freelancers create visually appealing and interactive proposals that can include embedded videos, images, and interactive pricing tables. Qwilr offers various templates and tracking features to help freelancers close more deals.
PandaDocA document automation software that allows freelancers to create, send and manage proposals from a single platform. It offers various templates, electronic signatures, and tracking features to help freelancers streamline their proposal workflow.

7. Carefully Research Your First Client

When you first start freelancing, it can be tempting to just take on the first client who comes along. But this is not a good idea; instead, you should look for someone who pays well and respects your time.

You should also ensure that the client has a good reputation (for example by checking their reviews) and a clear project brief that details exactly what they want from you. Finally, make sure they have money in the budget for your services!

Networking is crucial for freelancers to build a strong client base and grow their business. Our post on networking for freelancers provides effective strategies, such as identifying relevant events, leveraging social media and building relationships with like-minded professionals.

8. Start Small

Once you have your business name, logo and branding in place, it’s time to start looking for clients.

Start small. Start with a small client who needs a quick job done that won’t take up too much of your time. If you can get them to pay up front, even better!

Start small. If this is your first project and you don’t have much experience yet, try starting with a smaller one that doesn’t require too many people on the team or resources (like office space). This will help you figure out what works best for your business while also building some confidence along the way.

9. Find A Mentor

Finding a mentor is the best way to learn what you need to know. It’s always good to work with someone who has more experience than yourself. They can give you feedback on your work, or tell you what they would do differently in your situation.

Self-care is crucial for freelancers to maintain their health and wellbeing while managing their business. In our article on the importance of self-care in self-employment, we discuss the benefits of self-care and offer practical tips, such as finding a hobby that you enjoy.

10. Learn How To Promote Yourself And Manage Clients

Promoting yourself is a must. You need to get online, make your presence known, and let people know what you do.

It’s also important to manage clients effectively. If you have too many clients or one that is difficult, it can be hard to balance all of that with the work itself. Setting boundaries and knowing when it’s time for a break are key skills for freelancers who want to stay sane while juggling multiple projects at once.

11. Stay Professional, Even When It’s Hard

One of the challenges of freelancing is that you’re the only person responsible for everything. 

That means it’s up to you to do things like manage your time and make sure projects are completed on time, but it also means that if someone emails you with a question about one of your articles around 11pm at night, it’s your responsibility to reply as soon as possible (or else let them know when they can expect an answer).

Freelancers need to be professional at all times—you never know who might see your work or hear about it through word-of-mouth.

Because their livelihoods depend on their reputations in a very public way, many freelancers take this very seriously. 

However, some clients will not be so understanding if they don’t receive quick responses from those they’ve hired; therefore it’s important that all interactions with clients remain professional at all times regardless of how busy a particular day may be.

12. Establish Boundaries And Expectations Right Away (And Stick To Them)

Boundaries and expectations are one of the most important aspects of freelancing. They’re also one of the most difficult to establish, especially if you’re working with a client for the first time.

You should be clear on how much time and energy you’ll need to dedicate to each project, while also being mindful of how much your clients are willing to spend on it. 

If it becomes clear that there’s a discrepancy between these factors, it’s best if both parties can come together to find a solution before any problems occur.

You want boundaries and expectations to be realistic—both parties need something out of this arrangement! 

For example: You know that you work better in an office environment and hate working at night because there’s too much noise; but your potential client wants all his projects done during peak hours so he can catch up on other work during off-hours like weekends when everyone else is out partying (or sleeping). 

In this case, maybe they should reconsider their deadline or hire someone with different needs than yours so they can complete their projects faster without sacrificing quality!

13. Don’t Be Afraid To Close The Door On Any Type Of Client (Or Project).

As a freelancer, you have the luxury of having a choice in who your clients are and what projects they take on. If something doesn’t feel right about a potential client or project, trust your gut and turn it down before it becomes a problem for you or for them. You don’t need to explain yourself—you can simply say “no thanks!” and move on to the next opportunity.

14. Create An Hourly Rate Table Before Negotiations Begin

A lot of people think that they should just accept what they are offered and not worry about asking for more. However, this isn’t true in any industry. The same goes for freelancing.

Before you start working on a particular project, it’s important to know how much money you will earn per hour or per project. 

If your hourly rate is already set at a lower rate than usual, try negotiating it up so that you make more money than usual per hour or project. You could also offer to take on fewer tasks or projects at once if someone offers an hourly rate that’s too low for your liking (and vice versa).


And if you’re wondering about the best way to promote yourself, we’ve got some tips for that too. 

It helps to know what kind of client you want to work with—whether that be someone in your own industry or a potential mentor who can guide and support you through the process. And as always, stay positive!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about freelancing:

How to Become a Freelancer by Upwork – A comprehensive guide on how to become a freelancer, covering everything from finding your niche to setting up your business.

The Ultimate Guide to Freelancing for Beginners by SmartBlogger – A detailed guide on how to get started with freelancing, which includes tips on finding clients, setting up your portfolio, and establishing your rates.

The Big Guide to Freelancing by Save the Student – A comprehensive guide that covers all aspects of freelancing, including how to find clients, how to manage finances, and how to maintain your work-life balance.


Here are some frequently asked questions about freelancing:

What is freelancing?

Freelancing involves working as an independent contractor instead of being employed by a company. Freelancers typically work on a project-by-project basis for a variety of clients.

How do I get started with freelancing?

To get started with freelancing, you must identify your niche, build your portfolio, and start networking with potential clients. You can also sign up on various freelancing platforms to find job opportunities.

How much can I earn as a freelancer?

Earnings vary widely in freelancing, depending on your niche, skillset, and experience. However, experienced freelancers may earn six figures or more per year.

What are the benefits of freelancing?

Freelancing offers several benefits, including greater flexibility and control over your work schedule, the ability to work from anywhere, and the potential to earn more money than you would in a traditional job.

Are there any downsides to freelancing?

Yes, there are downsides to freelancing as well, such as having no guaranteed income, no employee benefits, and the need to handle all aspects of your business, including marketing, bookkeeping, and taxes.