There are loads of talented people with their spare time, computers and everything, roaming around, surfing and making almost nothing out of it. If you are one of them, you can start your own small business at home, doing freelancing. Some might say that freelancing doesn’t get you anywhere, may be a project or two in couple of months and that’s about it. Well, they are wrong, this is a proper field and best thing about freelancing is that you do what you like, where your expertise are.
This guide will teach you almost everything from being a new freelancer (properly) to being a professional. Nowadays, there are numerous good websites called "Freelance Agent Websites" also known as FAW’, operate as go betweens for buyers and freelance solution providers. Various companies/individuals now outsource some of their big and small projects through these websites. Sole reason is the lower project cost in comparison to the cost of hiring full time solution providers.
Most of these freelance agent websites operate several major categories of projects which include writing, data entry, graphic design, audio/video, multimedia, marketing, website design, software development engineering etc. There are also also several sub-categories under each major category, which define the tasks more specifically.
Let’s discuss the basic steps on becoming a freelancer.
1- Finding a Freelance Agent Website to Start your career with.
The first step to starting a freelance career is to find a FAW to work through. There are many FAW (Freelance agent websites) that you can start with but the major part that can impact you, can be your selection.
- Freelance Agent Website Selection
Always go for a renowned website for the following reasons.
A- More open projects per day, mean more chances of winning a project.
B- More categories of projects to work on.
C- Increased reliability in transactions of both project and money.
- Freelance Agent Website Service Charges
Freelance agent websites normally charge around 15%to 20% commissions on the projects. They do offer free sign-up but usually allow freelancers to bid on only $15 to $30 projects a month and charge a higher commission. Such packages are recommended when you are new to this business or when you are testing their services.
Do your research on the service charges and weigh them against the number of open projects and the average bidding prices of a few projects that seem interesting. This will give you a preliminary idea of the average earning you can make through a particular FAW. When you become an experienced freelancer and have several projects in hand, then it will be a good idea to upgrade your account where you have to pay them a monthly fee and are permitted to bid on 100 to an unlimited number of projects per month.
These packages may have reduced or no commission charges which would be great for you. Also such contracts are usually known as "Gold membership" or "Premier Packages".
- How Secure are these websites?
It is impressive to find out about details such as what is a freelance agent website will do when a dispute occurs between a buyer and a provider. Such information may be quiet hard to find but the FAQ (Frequently asked questions) pages and about us pages on their website might be a bit of help.
- Getting Paid
The freelance website that you choose should offer payment services available in your country or region. Western Union money transfer, Wire transfer, credit card transactions, PayPal are your best choices here. They are generally supported by most of these websites. Another important thing to keep in mind is that money sometimes cannot be easily transferred to your account so these FAW might bill higher transfer charges so your best deal would be to confirm each and everything properly before going for it.
-Subscribe to their Newsletters
Subscribing to their newsletters can be a vital move since most of these popular websites send short details about newly opened projects that match your interest.
2- Make your Profile
Your profile presents you, so don’t neglect this part and follow these simple steps to achieve a good freelancing career:
- Contact Information
During the registration process, provide accurate information, specifically your name, email and phone/fax number. Re-check everything at-least one time as you might have a chance of losing out on earnings if you provide the wrong information.
- Resume Writing
When the FAW asks you to enter a description of yourself and your services, type out a neat introduction of yourself and what your expertise are. Try to use simple english and convey your interest related qualifications, certifications, awards, professional experiences (If any) of your newest or previous projects. Also provide a rough daily work schedule for doing these projects and your average bidding amount per hour. Buyers will go through your resume before making a selection, so be comprehensive, simple and honest.
Select the appropriate skill set related to your area of expertise. While selecting, check every category which links to your expertise and interest. Some buyers prefer to search for an appropriate service provider that meets their criteria rather than being a long bidding session.
3- Search and Bid
The next step is to start searching for projects and bidding on those which meet your skill set and interest. While bidding, do not try to by-pass the site’s rules as it is unethical and the buyer may start distrusting you. Reply promptly to a buyer’s queries with clear answers. Reply promptly to a buyer’s query with clear answers. An important thing to keep in mind is that your bid will be weighed against thousands of other bids. Winning a bid never easy and your need to work hard and develop new approaches for different projects.
Do not worry about losing some bids (It might dishearten you). If you can develop proper strategies and be professional, projects will eventually start flowing in. Follow these simple guidelines to achieve your goal:
- Do you have what it takes?
Before bidding, read the project description very carefully. Ask yourself
A- Does this project completely matches your skills?
B- Do I know and have everything to do this project?
These are very important points and do not bid if you have a "No" in it. Why? well, even if you win the project, you might fail to provide a solution because of lack of skills which will lead to bad feedback and negative ratings from buyer and can damage your reputation.
- Calculating lead time
Always estimate the time you will take to complete a project. The best way is to make a comparison with previous similar projects. Buyers usually mention the maximum time-period for the completion of a project. Try and match your estimate to their constraints.
- Evaluation a bid amount
When you have an estimate of the magnitude of the work, you can easily estimate the bid amount. If you are new, try to bid a little lower that you would to attract buyers and on top of that, provide a good service. Once you have a portfolio (Which is very important) with positive comments and feedback, you can start cashing in. Before bidding, take a look at other bidders, their descriptions, lead times etc, to get an idea of where you stand.
Your bid amount must be reasonable, not so high that buyers reject them without even reading about your services. It is advisable to bid close to average bidding amounts, but leave some room for negotiation.
- Writing a service description
Providing a good service description is the key to success. Keep the following rules of thumb under consideration:
A- Don’t try to attract buyers with information language or slang. Keep the words the way they are.
B- Don’t copy your whole profile again since it’s already available at the right place.
C- Don’t use over sophisticated long sentences and difficult vocabulary. Keep it simple.
D- Don’t post irrelevant things that have nothing to do with a buyer’s requirements.
E- Don’t provide personal contact information.
F- Let the buyer know your experiences and skills in relation to the project’s requirements. Make sure the buyer is satisfied with your specified delivery time and assure him that you will meet deadlines. Come across as appropriate and encourage the buyer to ask you any questions about the project.
4- Bidding Session
This step requires patience, wait for the bidding period to complete. It is, however, a good sign if the buyer contacts you during the bidding period. Here are a few guidelines:
A- Don’t send bulk messages to the buyer inquiring whether you will be selected or not.
B- Be flexible. If the buyer requests to negotiate the price, lower your bid amount if possible.
C- Respond with the same attitude that is portrayed in your service description, be simple and courteous.
D- Discuss the payment structure in this stage.
E- Never start working on a project until the buyer formally selects you. Though, you may send a little demo of your work to encourage the buyer to lean towards opting for your services.
F- Discuss everything about the project, don’t hesitate to back off if a problem occurs and you’re not comfortable about it after learning the details.
G- Don’t be disappointed if the buyer rejects you at this stage. Try to identify the reason – If it is due to some mistake on your part, you’ve learned your lesson, never repeat it again.
5- Winning a project
After you have successfully won the bid on a project, it is essential to complete it on time. Remember these guidelines:
A- Buyers love to communicate! so try sending daily (or regular) updates of the project status.
B- If there are delays, inform the buyer and explain the reason.
C- After completing each stage of, of project, send the draft work / demo version.
D- For graphics work, send a blurred image (or a watermarked lower resolution image).
E- For article writing work, send headings with incomplete paragraphs ending with "……" or "in progress", something like that. You can also include the number of words or lines in each paragraph.
F- For website design or script writing work, upload the updated version to your own website server and show it to your customer.
G- For software / application development work, send stand-alone, locked versions. NEVER share the source code.
H- For database related work, send a small percent of records. Just mention the total records for the buyer’s satisfaction.
I- After completing the project, request the buyer to provide positive feedback about your work on that same FAW. These references will help you acquire more projects.
Hopefully, these were the major guidelines to put you on the freelancing track. Each new project bid will impart new lessons and experiences. Wishing you a great freelancing career.