10 Essential Steps to Start Freelancing on the Side

10 Essential Steps to Start Freelancing on the Side
10 Essential Steps to Start Freelancing on the Side

Freelancing has been on the rise for many years. With freelance websites like Elance or Freelancer, it has become incredibly easy to start freelancing. But often, without any formal training, people often find themselves struggling with basic steps, tasks, and problems that are just part of being a freelancer. This is why we have gathered the 10 most important steps for starting a successful freelance career, so you can get right to work and start earning that sweet internet money.

Essential Steps to Start Freelancing on the Side

Here are the 10 essential steps you should take before and while freelancing:

1: Define your niche

The first step for being a successful freelancer is knowing what you are going to do. Most people think they're good at too many things and therefore can easily be a jack of all trades. The problem with that is, as a freelancer, you will have to compete with those who specialize in one thing and do it well. So instead of trying to do everything, focus on your strongest skill first and find a specialty within it.

2: Brand yourself

Just like a business, it is important to brand yourself. Do you want to be seen as an expert? Or would you rather be seen as the go-to guy for a specific niche of problems? The more specific your branding, the better opportunities will come your way.

3: Put together a portfolio

Even if freelancing websites are popular, most people still want to see examples of your work before hiring you. Being able to show them what you have done will definitely help in catching their attention. So make sure to put together a portfolio with everything you have worked on so far, whether it's completed projects or even just drafts that are not yet finished.

4: Make the most of your time

Freelancing is not a 9-5 thing. Most people will choose to work when they want, where they want, and how long they want. So the only way to be successful at it is by managing your time well. Make sure that you schedule enough time for marketing yourself (we will get into that in the next step), for completing projects, and for keeping in contact with people who are hiring you.

5: Promote yourself

Even though you can rely on websites like Elance or Freelancer to find your next job, promoting yourself is very important. You should definitely set up an online portfolio where potential employers can get in touch with you. But also make sure to network with other freelancers and more experienced professionals. Building up contacts will broaden your chances of finding new projects.

6: Be proactive

Even though you don't have a boss anymore, the client is still in charge during your freelance career. Making sure that clients are satisfied with your job is very important for maintaining relationships with them. So make sure to always offer your help and try to be as proactive as possible.

7: Set up a contract

As soon as you start working for someone, make sure that you set up a contract where both of you agree on what has been promised and done. You can use a general freelancing website or hire a lawyer to help with these kinds of documents.

8: Take advantage of free stuff

Since freelancing is not a 9-5 job, you can do most things whenever it is most convenient for you. Making sure that you take advantage of this opportunity will give your career the jumpstart it needs. Free training courses, seminars, or other educational materials are offered online all the time; take advantage of them.

9: Hire help when needed

While freelancing is supposed to be an opportunity to work independently, there are times where you will need outside help. Making sure that you don't try to do everything yourself can increase your profit margin and make your life much easier. So make sure you hire freelance help when needed.

10: Invest in your career

While you don't need an office and a bunch of employees to get started, investing in your freelancing career will definitely pay off over time. Making sure that you have the latest technology and other resources at hand can increase work productivity and even make you stand out among other freelancers.

TIP: Freelancing gives you a lot of freedom which can come at a price if not managed well. Make sure that you are able to handle the independence by yourself, keep in touch with your colleagues and even consider hiring freelance help if needed. Do not try to do everything yourself. Even though it will give you a sense of freedom at first, freelancing can be quite demanding in terms of time management. Make sure that you set priorities for tasks that will help you achieve your goals. Instead of spending hours each day on social media or watching television, dedicate that time to marketing yourself and meeting new clients.


Freelancing can be a very rewarding career move for college graduates. The independence, flexibility, and the ability to work from home are just some of the benefits that come with it. But in order to truly succeed in your new freelance career, you need to make sure that you have everything planned out well beforehand. Set up a budget plan, establish healthy working hours, take advantage of free resources, and don't try to do everything by yourself. Finally, make sure that you invest in your freelancing career as it will reap benefits over time.