How to become a freelancer


17 November 2023

Becoming a freelancer is a big step that many professionals are keen to make in hopes of more time flexibility, no employer, and no fixed location.

Let’s explore what life as a freelancer entails and outline the essential steps for navigating this path, which can be intricate due to bureaucratic and regulatory complexities. 

What it means to be a freelancer

First of all, it is essential to understand what it means to be a freelancer. Being self-employed implies working independently without being tied to a specific employer or company.  

This freedom is a crucial advantage, as it provides greater flexibility in project and time management. However, this independence also entails a great deal of responsibility, such as finding clients, setting competitive rates and managing all administrative tasks. 

One of the main differences between self-employment and traditional employment is the absence of a fixed salary and the typical company employee benefits. Nevertheless, this autonomy offers significant advantages, allowing freelancers to shape their careers in alignment with their goals and aspirations.

Freelancers have the autonomy to make independent decisions regarding the type of work they accept, the amount of time they dedicate, and the development of their specialization.

How to prepare 

Before embarking on a freelance career, it is essential to devote time and energy to adequate preparation. This process is a crucial step that requires planning and carefully assessing your skills and interests. Here are some key considerations to take into account: 

  1. Identify skills: assess your professional skills and competencies. What do you do well? What are your passions? Identifying your areas of strength will help you focus on projects that interest you and in which you can excel. 
  1. Build a portfolio: if you have experience in the field, create a portfolio, a collection that shows your past projects and the skills you possess. This will be useful to demonstrate your value to potential clients. 
  1. Set financial goals: decide how much you want to earn as a freelancer and establish a realistic financial plan to reach these goals. But don’t forget to consider the costs associated with the business, such as taxes and operating expenses. 
  1. Develop a marketing plan: plan how to attract clients and promote your services. You can use your website, social media and other channels to reach your target audience. 

Build your personal brand 

After making the initial assessments, the next step is building your brand. Don’t underestimate this step, as if done correctly, it allows you to stand out from the competition, establish yourself distinctively in your industry, and, as a result, acquire new clients more efficiently. Here are some tips: 

  1. Choose a recognisable name or brand: if you decide not to use your name, choose a professional name that will stick in people’s minds. 
  1. Create an online presence: a professional website and well-maintained social media profiles will help you be visible online. Make sure they reflect your personality and skills. 
  1. Communicate your value: on your website and all communication materials, emphasise what makes you unique and the added value you can offer clients. 
  1. Collect reviews and testimonials: positive opinions from satisfied clients are a powerful marketing tool. Positive feedback is the best business card. Ask your clients to leave reviews and testimonials that can strengthen your credibility. 

Client research and project management 

And now, we come to the crucial phase of starting your business: finding clients and managing projects. This part is essential for the start of your career as a freelancer. Here are some important steps: 

  1. Identify your target audience: this is the central question to ask yourself. Consider elements such as your business sector, geographical location and the specific needs of your potential clients. This information will help you tailor your marketing strategy and focus your efforts on an audience more likely to need your services. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you might target small local businesses that need support in creating promotional material. 
  1. Set competitive prices: proper pricing is crucial. It must be based on thorough research of the prices charged in your industry. Find out what your competitors offer and assess the value you can bring to your services. Also, consider your experience, the quality of your work and your distinctive features. Do not try to compete only through the lowest prices, but rather try to offer exceptional value for money. If you are too cheap, you may discourage clients who fear poor quality; if you are too expensive, you may exclude potentially interested clients. 
  1. Make professional proposals: when proposing for new projects, you should convey professionalism and competence. Structure your proposal clearly, highlighting your experience and ability to meet the client’s needs. Show that you have an organised and systematic approach to work. Customise each proposal for the specific client and show that you have done prior research on their business or project. Well-structured proposals show that you are serious about your commitment and providing value to the client. 
  1. Manage projects carefully: once you have acquired projects, efficient management is essential to satisfy clients. Set clear and realistic deadlines so that you can plan work appropriately. Communication is crucial; keep the client informed about the project’s status and respond promptly to their questions or concerns. Also, learn how to handle changes and challenges promptly and effectively. Good project management will help you maintain a positive reputation and obtain recommendations from satisfied customers. 

Finance management and administrative aspects 

Let’s now turn to bureaucracy. If you want to become a freelancer, the first step is to register your business with the local tax authority, usually an accountant can guide you through this process. Laws and regulations around freelancing might change depending on where you are based, so make sure you do your research to avoid bad surprises down the line. A few things to keep in mind are:

  1. Registering your business with the local tax authority or relevant local institution. 
  1. Understanding what taxes you will pay and how they are calculated.
  1. Explore available tax benefits for freelancers and apply for them. 
  1. Look into using invoicing and book-keeping software, to keep track of your business expenses and income.  

In addition, there are some important considerations to keep in mind, such as: 

  • Keeping track of income and expenses and strictly adhering to tax regulations. 
  • Create accurate invoices, fill them out in every field, and plan to send them to customers on time.  
  • Assess whether taking out insurance for your freelance activity, such as professional insurance, is necessary to protect you from legal liability. 

Becoming a freelancer is an exciting path but requires planning and commitment. By following these steps and facing challenges with determination, you can build a rewarding career as a self-employed professional, enjoying the freedom and opportunities it offers. 

If you are ready to start your adventure as a freelancer and want to acquire the necessary skills to excel in your career with IED, you are guaranteed to follow highly professional and up-to-date training courses for today’s working environment. Discover among the courses the perfect one for your specialisation.


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