How to Become a Freelancer: The Ultimate Guide


The benefits of pursuing a freelancing profession are countless. Freelance work is quickly moving from the margins of the job market into the mainstream, with benefits ranging from augmenting your income to setting your own working hours.

If you’ve been considering freelancing, you’re not the only one. According to a recent report, over one-third of workers (36%) are now freelancing. That’s a 22% increase since 2019!

If you want to work as a freelancer, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you.

What’s a freelancer?

A freelancer isn’t the same as an employee. The IRS defines a freelancer as someone who:

  • Doesn’t decide when, where, and how they work
  • Isn’t in charge of how much they are paid, or what raises or bonuses they’ll receive
  • Is paid for work-related expenses and receives perks (such as health and insurance)

On the other hand, a freelancer is almost the exact opposite of an employee. 


  • Can choose who they work with, when they work, and where they work with – with some exceptions
  • Set their payment rates
  • Don’t receive any work-related benefits

Is freelancing right for you?

Even if the prospect of being your own boss sounds tempting, freelancing is not for everyone. To become a freelancer, you need more than an entrepreneurial drive. It’s crucial to think about the pros and cons of freelancing before learning how to start a freelance business.


  • Choosing who you want to work for, when, and how long
  • Working on projects you really want to do
  • Flexibility
  • Exposure (you learn a lot about different industries)


  • You are responsible for paying all of your taxes
  • There are no job-related perks
  • Work isn’t always consistent, which can cause cash flow problems
  • Isolation (you spend practically all of your time working alone)

This is why you might want to start freelancing while you’re still working full-time. This will allow you to test the waters and have a better picture of what it’s like to work as a freelancer.

How do freelancers find work?

Prospective freelancers devote a significant portion of their time (at least initially) to job hunting. Writers, for example, may approach multiple newspapers with ideas for articles they want to publish. A freelance web designer can go out to local businesses to see if any of them require help with their websites.

Repeat business, word-of-mouth, and great referrals, building relationships and performing quality work make acquiring freelance “gigs” easier. There are also job websites that thoroughly vet and verify all of their freelance opportunities, ensuring a safe and productive job search.

How to start a freelance business

Congratulations on your decision to work as a freelancer! However, before quitting your day job and starting your freelance business, be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Do your homework

Before you set up your website, get business cards, and hang up your shingle, start with some market research to make sure there’s a demand for whatever field you’re in and to understand the competition.

This will help you determine how and where you should sell your services. Examine your competitors’ services and pricing to understand what they offer and how much they charge. You don’t want to overcharge potential customers, but you also don’t want to undercharge and undervalue yourself.

Build a brand

It can be difficult to find work in a saturated freelancing market. A strong personal brand can help you differentiate yourself and be remembered. What unique combination of qualities and skills do you bring to the table? When it comes to marketing yourself, thinking about what you have to offer and who might benefit from your services will lead you in the right direction.

Plan ahead

Many freelancers go through feast-or-famine cycles, especially in the beginning. They sometimes have so much work to accomplish that they’re unsure if they’ll be able to complete all of it. Sometimes there are crickets, and sometimes there aren’t.

Building a nest egg to relieve some of the tension when work is scarce is a part of learning how to start a freelance business. Learn how to include finding future work into your daily schedule—even while completing current tasks—to become a successful freelancer.

Plan for Routine Paperwork

While enthusiasm for your work helps establish a successful freelancing business, so is the ability to handle other duties. Obtaining health insurance, budgeting for retirement, and paying self-employment taxes are all major responsibilities. You’ll also need to handle day-to-day tasks like acquiring office supplies, invoicing, time tracking, and maintaining healthy client relationships.

Get a mentor

Finding a mentor is an excellent strategy to learn the ins and outs of freelancing from someone who has either been there or knows enough about the industry to guide you.

Connect with the freelancer community

You don’t have to do it alone even if you’re a one-person company. Local and professional organizations, as well as online forums, can answer any questions you might have about how to establish a freelance business, be sounding boards for ideas, and connect you to a world outside of your home office.

Joining a group of like-minded people (such as a writer’s group) is a fantastic opportunity to gain feedback and develop your skills with people who share your desire to master their crafts.

Start small

When launching a freelance business, always start small. While having a group of clients would be nice, start with one or two.

Start your freelance business as a side gig first. This allows you to start small without worrying about establishing an income or keeping your health insurance.

You’ll be more likely to find a continuous supply of clients organically rather than worrying about freelance famine if you relieve some of the pressure and give yourself permission to start small. As a result, you can focus on providing excellent work that will impress your current clients, which would motivate them to refer you.

Get the word out

Unless you spread the word, no one will know you’re a freelancer. So, first and foremost, talk to your friends and relatives to see if they can provide any job referrals. Then branch out to your social media contacts, all while being careful not to mix your personal life with your professional one.

If you’ve left previous positions on good terms, it’s not a bad idea to contact them and let them know you’re available for work. It might be a win-win situation because you’re familiar with the organization and presumably know their niche better than most.

Ask for referrals

Setting up good networking contacts, especially people who can provide you quality referrals, is one of the smartest things you can do to get started as a freelancer. Past coworkers, current coworkers, and even acquaintances are all possible references to consider. Any of these individuals can connect you with clients that need your services.

Protect yourself

There are numerous horror stories of freelancers who weren’t compensated for all of their hard labor. Make sure you have a freelance contract in place to protect yourself.

Even if you have a formal contract, there is no guarantee that you will be paid. However, a contract is something to rely on if you don’t get paid and have to sue your client.

Build recommendations

Everyone wants their efforts to be acknowledged and rewarded. When you work for a business, positive employee evaluations, raises, and bonuses are common forms of praise. However, when you’re a freelancer, praise comes in the form of a client recommendation.

When you’ve completed the project, ask your client to submit a review on your website or a LinkedIn recommendation. These good client testimonials will help position you as an authority, establish yourself as a professional expert, and attract new clients.

Stay motivated

Every job has good days and bad days. Freelancing is no exception. However, if you lose your freelance motivation, you may lose your entire business!

Burnout among freelancers is a real thing. It could be because you took on too many projects or that you have trouble setting boundaries. Whatever the case may be, burnout can lead to a loss of drive.

Learn when to say no

It can be tempting to take on every new task that comes your way as your freelance business grows, but this isn’t always the smart choice. Biting off more than you can chew will only lead to delivering mediocre work that doesn’t meet your (or your client’s) expectations. Instead, choose your tasks carefully and make sure that you’ll be able to deliver whatever the workload is.

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Hey there!

I’m Imad, the content creator and online marketing strategist behind The Guemmah Freelance Hub. My mission is to help more freelancers grow themselves, their business, and their profits.

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