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Freelance Work: From Side Income to Full Time Job. How Do You Get Started?

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Lynnette Goh

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Many people these days think of freelance work as a great way to make side income while others use it to earn a living full-time. But freelancing isn’t just a “shiok” way to earn money, getting started can sometimes be a rather daunting and confusing process.

Where do you start first? Whether you’re a writer, photographer, model, or a makeup artist etc, breaking into the freelance market is almost always about marketing yourself, like the marketing student’s 4Ps. Here’s tips on what to do:

 

I just want to try making some cash on the side…

When you’re first starting out, building your portfolio and learning the ins and outs of freelance work is a priority. You’d want to take up as many projects you can that will help you discover and hone your strengths regardless if they were paid; use them as opportunities to build up a varied portfolio and to explore your craft. As someone who’s started as a struggling writer myself, I’ve also taken up not so well-paid jobs and used them as platforms to build myself.

Websites such as Fiverr, Dollar3, and Tenrr allow you to post “gigs” for a small amounts eg $5 etc. Think Carousell for miscellaneous services rendered. You post up what you’re willing to do for $5, someone “buys” your service, and you deliver. This $5 might seem like a meager amount now but these amounts do add up. I’ve know people who actually make a living off Fiverr. Evaluate the market price of your work and post them there. That way you can earn money as you build your portfolio of works.

 

Okay so freelancing is great; I want to see if I can transition into it full time but I don’t want to leave my job YET…

Once you have a sufficient amount of works done under your belt the next step would be to start building your own personal brand and identity. What is that? Basically your unique selling point, your image etc. Identify what differentiates you from your competition and position your professional social media accounts, blogs, and digital portfolio around that.

Start by building a separate social media account showcasing snippets of your work to build online presence eg a blog/ tumblr/ Facebook/ instagram account. Be selective on who you would like to work with; you’d want to choose projects that tie in with your specialization so you can start building your client list in the right direction. This stage is all about building a relevant client base. And you’d want to do that through lots of networking and referrals.

You’d want to subtly let your friends know what you’re doing too…No I’m not asking you to ask them out for some random catch-up so you can sell your services…Pick out more sociable friends in your social circle and let them know what you’re currently doing. These friends can help spread word about you and connect you to valuable connections.

In your own free time, build your LinkedIn account and sign up for more networking events. Meetup does some great networking events for all kinds of interests. You can sign up and exchange contacts with other like-minded individuals/entrepreneurs or even take it a step further by printing name cards! Sounds lame but it’s a great way to spend one of those days where you know, you have nothing to do…Friends not free, partner not free, even your dog also not free…At least you’re doing something that contributes to your growth instead of sitting home growing horizontally. Who knows you might even meet some awesome peeps that could teach you a thing or two.

 

Okay… I’m ready to freelance full-time!!!

Maybe you just got tossed into the deep end, and now you bo pian have to freelance full-time. Or maybe you just made that choice one fine day. Either way, it’s time to bring out those big guns!

Build your own killer website through free website builders such as Wix and Imcreator, or take it a step further by designing and coding your own. Pick key projects that speak to your niche and feature them on your website. This serves as a easy permanent showcase when you apply for that freelance job online or when people ask for samples.

Since you’re a serious freelancer, investing a few bucks every month for good web-hosting and SEO services would come in handy too. Most website components such as templates, plugins, or even just “pro” plans require some sort of fee, paid upfront or in the form of a monthly price. These are all worth the money to get your website running at top speed. As a writer, I personally use clippings.me and here’s a sample of their plans:

Most web hosting sites have plans similar to these and cost an approximate $10 per month.
Most web hosting sites have plans similar to these and cost an approximate $10 per month.

You can also look into Facebook or Google Adwords (if you have some cash to spare) to target prospective clients. These advertising platforms make for good leads generation since advertisements are shown only to audiences you choose with similar digital behaviour in terms of eg device usage, site visits etc. For example, if you specialize in emotive photography, target people searching up words like “bridal” or “wedding”.

 

You’d realise by now that freelancing isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. All these ideologies we have on “entrepreneurship” and “being our own boss” involves more hard work and hussle than a full-time job. But I guess if you want the flexibility of working on your own and all that jazz, you’d have to sacrifice some things in return.

What are some of your considerations that might stop you from working full time? Share your thoughts with us here!

 

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Lynnette Goh

Spoilt kid turned free-spirit, I’ve struggled finding and funding myself taking a road less travelled. These days, I enjoy writing lifestyle topics that bring value to life and its future, injecting humour to otherwise boring topics. Who said personal finance can’t be fun? In my free time, you can find me chasing American dramas, and having the occasional glass of wine over conversations with friends.