Skip to content

2,400+ Clients since 2001 • $4.3+ Billion Raised

4 Steps to Freelance Success

Becoming a full-time freelancer can be scary, especially if you haven’t planned accordingly. The key to overcoming this fear starts with strategy and preparation.

4 Steps That Will Set You Up for Freelance Success

Before you go all-in on freelancing, you must create a plan to give you the best chance to succeed. Your goals should be composed of four steps:

  1. Budget wisely and save
  2. Find the right niche
  3. Identify what makes you stand out
  4. Create a portfolio

Completing these four steps will help you deal with the inevitable peaks and valleys a freelance career entails.

Step 1: Budget Wisely and Save

Don’t jump full-time into freelancing thinking you’ll be rolling in the dough from Day 1. Most freelancers need time to find a steady stream of paying clients.

Begin by looking at your monthly spending. Take steps to minimize your expenses, even moving into a smaller apartment or taking in roommates if needed. Set aside your savings until you’ve accumulated enough for at least four months. Forbes has a helpful article on budgeting and saving as a freelancer.

Step 2: Find the Right Niche

Once you’ve established a savings routine, your next step is identifying the right niche. Every industry and profession has a freelance market nowadays. So whether it’s copywriting, web development, or any other industry  – there’s a market for you!

Identifying the right niche helps you at the beginning of your freelancing journey, but it also helps establish a foundation for your future marketing efforts. An article from (a freelance job marketplace) was recently featured in the USA Today. The piece provides freelancers with four tips to help them market their freelance business. The first two are to “Develop your brand” and “Tell your story.” Determining your niche first can help you develop your brand and story in a way that appeals to your niche.

Step 3: Identify What Makes You Stand Out

According to an article by marketing guru Neil Patel, “A unique selling proposition is what your business stands for. It’s what sets your business apart from others because of what your business makes a stand about.”

Becoming a freelancer means you are a business. So, like any business, tracking your competitors is critical. Whether using a platform such as Upwork or Freelancer or just using your network to find clients, you should always watch what your competitors are doing.

By researching your competition, you’ll be able to find gaps in their methods and offerings. The flaws you identify can then help you craft your unique selling proposition. In an earlier post, Building a Winning Marketing Plan For Your Startup, we mention that the keys to successful marketing are positioning your products or services as ideal solutions to a problem your potential customers are struggling with.

This same approach applies when you’re determining what’s going to make you stand out!

Step 4: Create a Portfolio

When you first start freelancing, you might be worried about the lack of work in your portfolio. Don’t let this deter you. There’s a simple method to get around this predicament, and it involves the previous step.

While researching your competition, you can check out their work. For example, if you want to become a freelance writer specializing in tech, explore other tech blogs. Or, if you’re an architect, check out the websites of your competitors and other architecture portfolio examples. Doing this will help you see what’s trending. Once you’ve identified an interesting topic, you can write an article about it and publish it on a site like Medium for your portfolio. Repeat the process, and you’ll soon have a solid portfolio.

Every successful freelancer has experienced failure. The difference between those who ultimately succeed and those who fail is preparation and strategy. Following the four tactical steps above will lead you to success. So, when envisioning your freelance future, remember the words of the great Sun Tzu: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.”

Akira is the Founder & CEO of Cayenne Consulting. He has over 30 years of experience both as an entrepreneur and helping other entrepreneurs succeed. Akira earned his BA in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University. View details.

This article was last updated on
Back To Top