Below you will find the exact step-by-step process that took me from working a full time 9 am-5 pm, 40+ hours a week job, to earning enough money working from home as a freelance designer only a few hours a week, and how you can apply it to any skill you have to accomplish the same.
Growing up I always had a thing for marching to the beat of my own drum and not fitting myself into conventional things like a 9-5 job.
I HATED waking up at early hours, driving through bumper to bumper traffic, to spend 8+ hours a day making someone else rich. That didn’t include office politics and co-worker drama which is like kryptonite to me.
It sucked, a lot, and you may be in the same place right now.
I want you to know there is hope.
My hate for the typical work world led me to discover something called freelancing.
Freelancing was intriguing to me because it would allow me to start right away, work on my own schedule, be my own boss, and use the skills I already had to make my pockets fatter instead of my employers.
So I decided I would quit my job at the time, use whatever savings I had and become a full-time freelance web designer.
Little did I know how this decision would absolutely change my life.
I went from a 9-5 grind to working from home earning double what I was making at my job.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
There were a lot of roadblocks and troubles along the way.
Looking back from where I am today I have laid out the exact steps I would take if I started from scratch today.
If you are considering quitting your job and going full-time as a freelancer in ANY industry this may help you.
Step 1: What is your magic?
Becoming a successful freelancer will be determined by this one question more than anything else.
Before you get into finding clients, marketing, or any of that stuff the most important thing is knowing your magic.
What do I mean by magic?
It’s not WHAT you do it’s what SPECIFIC RESULT you can get for people.
When you get people results it will seem like magic.
For me, that result was getting businesses more sales with a high converting website design. Notice I didn’t say “I build websites”.
I build websites, will not get you far as there are thousands of other “I build a website” people out there.
Instead, I position everything I offer as helping a business get more sales, that’s all they care about anyways.
If you wanted to get into freelance photography as an example, I wouldn’t go out saying your just a photographer. Be specific about what result you deliver such as “I help brides capture their best wedding memories to have for a lifetime.”
Trust me, this will set you far apart from all the other freelancers who try and offer a customer the same service.
Step 2: Specialize
I made this mistake for a VERY long time.
I use to offer anything and everything that someone would pay me for.
If you are just starting out and don’t know what you want to specialize in yet, feel free to try out different avenues.
Look at the different categories and see what you can offer in specific areas better than anyone else and get a few clients under your belt in that area to build some credibility and results.
You can begin working on these sites also if you are just starting out but try to get away from them as soon as you can since it’s basically a feeding frenzy of freelancers and it will be harder to command higher pricing.
Again, try to specialize as soon as possible in one thing.
Would you go to a general doctor if you needed brain surgery? Hopefully not.
Specializing will make you an expert at that one thing and you will be able to demand higher fees as a result.
When I started as a designer I did everything – logos, banners, websites, business cards, you name it I would accept it.
Eventually, I realized the folly in this thinking and started to narrow down what I offered.
I went from doing everything to only websites, then eventually to only landing pages, to now only conversion design and optimization for landing pages in a very specific industry.
As a result, my rates and income jumped to over 10x what I was doing before with much less work.
We have a silly fear that if we don’t do everything everyone wants then we won’t get any work, but the opposite is true. If we instead focus on specializing as much as possible we can become sought after for our specialty and can command higher fees.
Step 3: Stop doing everything yourself
I wish I had realized this one sooner too.
We sometimes feel that doing everything ourselves makes us special, or seem like we are working harder to impress people.
That’s just your ego forcing you to work hard for no reason, and you will eventually be working a job again, but for yourself instead.
In the beginning, as you are getting new clients and replacing your job income you may very well need to do a lot on your own. I did and so do most freelancers starting out.
However, try to keep the end game in mind, and build a team or hire help as soon as possible.
So the goal here is to treat your freelancing as a business as soon as you can to avoid getting stuck in it.
Step 4: Raise Your Fees
People perceive higher fees with a better product.
(Think buying a Rolls Royce versus a Toyota.)
If you followed steps 1 and 2 above you shouldn’t have trouble raising your fees.
Raising your fees I believe is 80% in your head.
Whatever you value yourself as that is what people will likely pay you.
If you want to raise your fees simply raise your own value of yourself, and decide you are worth more. It really is that simple.
It also helps once you start helping your first few clients get results. Then you can use those results as case studies to prove your value even more.
One thing here to note is you MUST actually get results and over-deliver your MAGIC. Again, see step #1 if this is not clear yet.
If you get clients poor results they will not pay you high fees for long.
Step 5: Put systems in place
My last MUST HAVE step for freelancing your way to freedom is to put systems in place for everything.
McDonald’s is not successful because of its burgers, they are successful in large part because of their systems.
They can hire a high school kid and turn him into a burger-making expert in no time.
Here are some systems you should think about –
Service Delivery Systems – How your service is delivered, whats steps are needed and how can they be systemized.
Marketing Systems – How you market your freelance services. Can this be systemized? Definitely.
Content Systems – How you create new content for your marketing like ebooks, brochures, blogging, etc. This also helps your marketing.
Sales Systems – How will you sign up new clients, get paid, and more.
Important: Don’t let the systems piece stop you from getting new clients. Your system is built as you grow. Don’t try and get all of your pieces perfect before taking action or else you will never get started!
Next Steps – Take Imperfect Action
Please go take some imperfect action. If you want to be free of your day job and are just starting out go on a site like UpWork now and create a freelancer profile or start telling your friends and family that you are freelancing.
They may know someone who knows someone that may need what you offer, and you can have your first client as soon as this week.
You can also join a free community for freelancers I’ve put together to help you grow.