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Learn how to start freelancing from scratch even with a full-time job. A step-by-step guide to help you earn money freelancing on the side.
Freelancing is one of the easiest and fastest ways to start earning a side income. It requires no start-up cost, unlike brick and mortar businesses or e-commerce businesses.
And the best part is that you can even get started in less than 24 hours. Because I have done it myself with no prior experience. If I could do it, I am sure that you could do the same, too.
This is the first part of the 10 part series” How To Start Your Freelance Business On The Side Even If You Have A Full-Time Job”.
Today, I am going to share with you a simple but proven 5 step system which I have used myself to start my own freelance business. It has worked for me very well. I hope that you will find it very helpful as well.
Step 1: Find a profitable idea
When I first started, I didn’t have any idea either. And I am really glad that I didn’t let it stop me. Otherwise, I would still be trapped in a 9 to 5 job and would not have the freedom I have right now.
Having no idea should not be the obstacle stopping you from making your life better and richer.
If you have no idea how to find an idea, all you need to do is to learn how to do it. The right way.
People always have the thinking that to make money, they must come up with the most brilliant idea or an idea that nobody has ever thought of before.
If no one has ever thought of doing it, there is a pretty good chance that there is no demand for it. If there are already people who are offering this kind of service, that is good news. That means it has a market for this type of service.
It is not a bad thing that you have competition. If you are smarter than them, provide a better service than them or market better than them or work harder than them, you can make more money than them.
Freelancers basically use their skills or knowledge to provide a service for a fee. The good thing about doing freelancing work is that you can start making money pretty quick compared to, let say, launching a product (it takes very long to create the product, then you need to market the product and find buyers).
When you look around you, you will see that many people make a living from selling their skills all the time.
For example, I have a friend who is a photographer.
Photographers can make anything from a few hundred bucks to a couple of thousand dollars depending on the project. He regularly takes on 2 – 3 projects doing wedding photography every month and make 5-figures monthly.
Not only is he doing what he loves but he is making a living, not to mention a comfortable living. And the best part is that he does not see it as work. It is his passion turned into a profitable freelance business.
Maybe you are good at playing the piano or the guitar. You could offer classes or private tuition to friends and family friends for a start and start to get referrals for your business.
Giving lessons is one of the best ways to get a side income because your income will be recurring.
Or maybe you are good at designing. You could offer your services to companies who require designs on a regular basis.
Designing is one of the most needed skill for companies because they will always need design works for their marketing campaigns.
What skills do you have that are sell-able?
You can start from examining your own life and things that you do regularly( i.e. your hobbies, books you often read, tools you always use, websites you frequently visit and etc)
Then, find a skill that you are good at or an area you are an expert of.
Next, you think about how that can be translated into a service you can offer, and then do a quick google search to see whether there are always people providing such services.
If yes, that probably means there is demand for it.
If there is even google ads displaying at the top and at the bottom of the search results page, that is even better news.
If people are willing to pay money to advertise on google, it is likely that they are making good money from offering such services.
If you are still having trouble finding an idea, you can go to popular freelance platforms get some ideas.
Fiverr and upwork are two of the most popular freelance service marketplaces. You can take a look at all the services that are already being offered there.
From there, you see if there is any service that you can provide yourself.
Once you have come up with a list of ideas for your freelance business, what you have to do next is to validate your idea.
There an easy and fast way to find out whether your idea will make money for you.
First, you go to one of the freelance platforms such as Fiverr. Next, you look for the service that you are thinking of offering. Let say, you want to offer logo design service.
So, you look for logo design service on Fiverr and then click on it. It will then show you all the logo design gigs being offered there. What you do next is that you sort all of them by customer reviews. Then, you click on the first few gigs.
When I click on the first logo design gig, it brings me to the page where I can how many orders have been placed for this service so far and how many orders there are currently.
This data alone will help me determine if there is high demand for this type of service.
From the image above, you can see that close to 40 thousands orders have been placed for this guy’s logo service so far. What is more is that he has more than 180 orders currently.
This is proof that logo design will be a profitable freelance business.
Step 2: Identify your target audience
Classic marketing rule number one is to know who your ideal target client is. Then, cater specifically to them. When you do this, the marketing message will seem like it is meant for them.
Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago, I wanted to buy some eye drops because I had been staring at the computer screen for too long. My eyes became dry and I wanted to get eye drops to refresh my eyes
I went into the nearest drug store with the intention of simply buying the cheapest eye drop there is because as for all I know, all eye drops do the same damn thing.
They refresh your eye and supposedly soothe tired eyes. That was my impression. So you can tell I absolutely know nuts about eye drops.
As I was browsing through the eye drops section in the drug store, I saw a range of eye drops from different brands.
In the description it all said the same – Soothes and relieves tired eyes. I was about to choose the cheapest one in that section until I saw this:
Guess what? I bought it.
Why? Because it specifically said Computer Eye Drops and the description on the back said that it was specifically meant to relieve tired eyes from hours of staring at the computer.
The marketing message was specifically catered to me!
And that’s exactly what happened. I wanted to look for eye drops to soothe tired eyes from staring at the computer for a long time. I happen to find a product that exactly solves my problem which I had.
I even paid several dollars extra compared to the other eye drops that were available.
Now, was there actually much difference between that eye drop and other eye drops? Not that I can tell. They would do the same job.
But the only difference was in my mind, I was looking for a specific solution to my specific problem and I got it. And that is how you should market yourself and your services.
In order to do that, you need to know exactly who your target market is and go deep inside their mind and find out what their problem is, so that you will be able to offer a specific solution to solve their problem.
And not only will they buy from you, but you will be able to charge higher prices because of this
Step 3: Craft an irresistible offer
In order to design an irresistible offer, you have to know what problems your target clients actually have and what results they really want.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example.
Two freelance copywriters, when asked what results their clients want with their service, gives these two answers:
Blog writer A: They want to have new blog posts on their website on a regular basis.
Blog writer B: They want to have valuable, engaging and viral/shareable SEO-optimized blog posts to bring in more targeted leads and therefore more clients and more revenue.
Obviously, I can tell that blog writer B did her homework and went deep inside her client’s mind because she gives me specific benefits which her client is looking for.
On the other hand, blog writer A does not know her target clients very well because her answer was very vague and general.
So, if you were the client, who would you prefer to work with?
Clearly, the latter.
She understands what is her client’s real problem is and knows EXACTLY what results they want for their business.
Only when you truly understand what problems they have and what benefits they want, then you can present them with an offer that they cannot refuse.
Step 4: Generate Leads
So, now you that have decided what service you want to offer. It’s time to get leads for your business!
There are 2 types of leads that you can pursue – Warm Leads and Cold Leads.
The fastest way for you to get clients immediately is to approach your warmest leads – who are none other than your family and friends!
If you are just starting out and have never provided a service before, this is the best place to start.
Because in general, your family and friends tend to be more forgiving and patient than strangers. It is the best place to get your feet wet and to build your momentum and confidence.
- Word of Mouth – Just by letting your friends and family know that you are now providing a service, they can actually help you get the word out. You will be surprised how many people are willing to support you.
- Facebook – This is the fastest way to reach your friends. So why not just make a post on your Timeline to say that you are offering a service.
Once you have gotten some business with your Warm Leads, it’s time to approach the shark-infested pools of cold leads! Okay, cold leads aren’t all that scary.
Sometimes, Cold Leads can be better than Warm Leads because they will treat you professionally.
Here are 3 proven ways to generate Cold Leads for your business:
1. The Fish Bait Method
If you have gone fishing before, you know that you need to tie a hook to your fishing line and bait your hook, then cast your line where all the fish is. Next, you wait for the fish to take your bait.
You are going to do something similar here. You find popular free classified ads websites, and post your offer in the relevant section. Then you wait for people who need your service to get in touch with you.
For example, you offer graphic design service. What you do is post an ads under “Creative” in Craigslist service section.
Only people who need such services would go there and click on your ads. People who don’t need it would hardly find their way there.
2. Direct To Source Method
Going direct literally means putting your offer in front of people who need it.
Generally, you use this method if you are offering a service that certain businesses will need. Then all you need to do is find their email address and simply shoot them an email to get them interested in what you have to offer.
3. Strategic Partnership Method
This one is my favorite of all. Once you get a strategic partner on board, you stand to benefit from it for a very long time to come.
It has worked very well for my own business. Because my strategic partners send me a constant stream of clients, my income has been rather stable and consistent.
When you start your own freelance business, you should do the same because you never know they can make a big difference in your business.
Let me show you some examples of how strategic partnership works:
For example, if you are a makeup artist, you could work together with wedding photography studios and offer your service as a complimentary service to their clients. It makes sense for the studios to say yes because they don’t have to hire full-time makeup artists. It is a win-win situation.
Step 5: Close the sale
Now, we have come to our final step. This is actually something that most of freelancers struggle with.
Not everyone is born with good sales skills.
Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of selling.
I believe that you all had the uncomfortable experience of a pushy salesperson trying to force you to buy certain products or services, whether you really need it or not.
I am not comfortable with hard selling. I know many of you feel the same way.
Here is the good news for you.
You can be good at selling by being your natural self.
How do you do that?
All you need to do is a mindset shift.
You need to change your mindset from selling to genuinely helping and serving. This way, you stay true to who you really are.
What is more?
It also removes the pressure on you and your client.
When you are genuinely helping your clients, they can feel it and they can tell. They will know that you care and you are honest.
Now, you have the right mindset.
Next, we will talk about what you should do when you are talking to your client.
You just need to remember two things:
- People only buy from someone whom they believe can solve their problem and get them the results they want
- People only buy from someone whom they trust and like
The first one is very easy if you have done your research on your client. You will know exactly what to say to show that you are the right person for the job.
The second one is not difficult either.
Here’s how you can build trust.
You need to show that you are genuinely trying to help your client and have their best interests at heart, whether or not they will use your service in the end.
Once you internalize these two points, you will find closing a sale is actually not difficult as you would imagine.
Now, you know what the 5-step system is and how it works. It’s time for you to put it to use and start earning extra income freelancing on the side.