6 Steps To Start A Successful Freelancing Career (Plus How To Work Less And Earn More As A Freelancer)

If you’ve ever considered starting a freelancing career as a side hustle to increase your income or to make freelancing your full time job, in this co-written post, by Ashutosh Garg and myself, you will learn the practical and effective steps needed to launch a successful freelancing career.
Plus some tips on how to increase your income as a freelancer without working extra hours for it.


Freelancing means being your own boss, working on your own terms, and performing multiple roles at the same time. This can be an excellent way to earn more money and increase your monthly income.

As cool as it sounds though, making money freelancing is not exactly that easy. However, if you take the right approach and focus on working smarter not just harder, it will lift off the burden of not being able to earn enough for your bread and butter, in the initial phase, and before you know it, freelancing can even become your main source of income.

Read below to learn the exact steps you can follow to start freelancing today and how you can earn more money as a freelancer without working for it.

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6 Steps To Start A Successful Freelancing Career (Plus How To Work Less And Earn More As A Freelancer):

6 practical steps to follow to start a successful freelancing career

1. Selecting your niche 

We are all striving to make a place for ourselves in this competitive world. Similarly, in freelancing you will find other individuals who charge a lower fee than you do. Finding a profitable niche is the key to this.

  • Before you start looking out, create a character profile for an ideal client that you want, so that when you start searching you have a clear picture in mind.
  • Seek for an industry and clientele that values quality. Then, you will be competing on value, not price
  • Be specific and select the right medium to target the customers.
  • Evaluate the niche you select on multiple criteria, from knowing how wide the customer base is, to their purchasing and spending habits.
  • Research and know your industry well before you start selling.
  • Get as narrow as possible. Having direct clients and opportunities for revenue generating sources is essential. Try starting out within local space. It is easier to make connections, communicate, and gain trust, and it will have less competition.

Recommended Reading:
The 6 Financial Services Freelancers And Small Businesses Need Right Now

2. Setting up your portfolio

Before sending your portfolio, think about who the client is. You might have to tweak it a little every time you send it.

Portfolio is about giving examples of your work to the clients. Include information about your brand, your recent content, your press mentions, and testimonials.

Make sure you include the best of what you have, take time and explain each piece of work and what you did on that project.

Present yourself and your work in a way that provides the potential clients with a better idea of your way of thinking and work style. This helps them understand you better.

Your projects should link to one another, it should all be tied up. Make sure your portfolio illustrates your story from beginning to the end, is lean, and highlights your main skills.

Along with the portfolio, you might also want to attach a free personalized resource or sample, to give the clients a taste of your work. 

3. Leveraging out to your network

Personal connections help you gain trust easily. When you start to target your niche and find the right clientele, start by using your existing network.

Ask in your circle to your family, friends, school/college connections, former employers or colleagues about their connections and whether they know anyone who needs your services.

Start introducing yourself in their circle, references and word of mouth promotion can lead you to a lot of potential clients.

You can meet them in-person, show your portfolio, build a connection, learn the needs of their businesses, and identify how you can work collaboratively.

Make smart and dedicated efforts to build a bridge.

Recommended Reading:
Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Bulletproof Strategy For Your Business

4. Sending customized pitches

Now that you have identified potential clients with your solid network, it is time to talk to them.

A pitch is how you market yourself to the identified customer. Making sure that it’s crisp, to the point, well researched and customized is vital.

Perfecting a pitch ensures that you will get the job. Be to the point and specific. An employer might be receiving a high number of pitches everyday. To stand out from the crowd, add a personalized touch to it.

Research on the employer and his/her business and mention something about the same in your pitch; that way you will get noticed.

A pitch should demonstrate your services and skill and how that will solve their problems and aid the goals of the employer. Mention your previous successes and planned strategies.

Don’t make the mistake of solely focusing on yourself during the pitch though, make sure to show that you know your customers and their company and how you can fill the gap they have.

Be clear in your offerings and timeframe. Even if you ever lose clients, refined pitching skills help you build new client relationships.

5. Closing the deal

It’s time to get a ‘YES’ and convert your prospects into clients. If you have started with a small contract make sure that the clients associate themselves with you; overdeliver yourself at this point.

As the client starts showing interest, put your base rates in front of them. Once satisfied with the services, the pitch received, and the portfolio demonstrated, it is time for presenting the main service and actual product with its optimum price.

Sometimes, the clients will go for price negotiation; so make sure that you know the factors affecting the price you have set and the value placed in the service you are offering before reaching a consensus on the price to be paid.

After this, in the final stage, get a contract ready. Ensure you have an agreement with specified terms and conditions in place. Get it signed and seal the deal. 

People get a lot of sales calls these days. Many times, people do not tend to respond. In this case, maintain your interest, be persistent, and follow them up with an email after sometime.

If they close their doors to you and say no. Be thankful for their time and interest. If possible ask for feedback to improve and keep the lines of communication open. 

6. Nurturing the relationship

Maintaining healthy relations is a key to long-term growth. Treat your existing customers well, make sure you work on customer engagement techniques, and develop customer retention strategies.

Communicate their importance and show them how much they mean to you and add value to your professional life. It will make them feel appreciated and attached to the brand.

In freelancing, you are working on your own, but your clients define your success. It is of utmost importance to keep them happy.

It is always easier to work with existing clients, compared to the effort of finding new leads, as you have already established a rapport with them. 

After you’ve selected the niche, built the portfolio, created an audience and established a list of customers, it becomes easier to increase your profits as you go.

increase your income as a freelancer. 6 Steps To Start A Successful Freelancing Career (Plus How To Work Less And Earn More As A Freelancer)
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How can you increase your income as a freelancer?

There are a few ways you can increase your income as a freelancer without necessarily increasing the efforts, working extra hours, or finding new clients, etc..

Below are 3 different ways you can make more money with less work as a freelancer:

Cross-selling your work

This can be done through looking for smart ways to recycle old work or use unused elements from your work that you have previously created.

For example, if you are a designer, you have layouts or templates that your clients might have passed on in earlier rounds. Or if you are a writer, you might have articles you wrote that went unseen.

You already have a set of current customers, leverage your network and provide them with more value by adding an extra product that required no added time or effort.

Affiliate products

Along with cross-selling, promoting affiliate products to your clients is another way to increase your income as a freelancer. 

Try using your knowledge and experience and find out what niche-related products you could affiliate for. Then start recommending those related products and services that will add value to the customer’s project; hence, a referral bonus will be coming your way.

Passive income

Freelancing and passive income, how can we combine two unconventional terms together?

Yes, this is another way you can increase your income as a freelancer, and that is by putting up some of your unused work for sale. This will greatly depend on your niche and the type of work you do, of course.

However, you can use your recycled or unused work, that maybe you couldn’t manage to sell to a current customer, and add that online to a platform where people can browse through products and buy them.

For example, if you design templates or take stock photos, your unused stock can be offered on websites like Etsy or Shutterstock and make you a passive stream of income without any extra effort on your part. Performing once, earning multiple times is the way to go.

Recommended reading: Passive Income: 5 Ways To Invest Small Amounts Of Money (From $500 To $0)

Transitioning from your 9 to 5 job to a full time freelancer

How would you tell that now you have a successful freelancing career? When can freelancing become your full time job?

First, you should be aware that freelancing is like a mini-entrepreneurship, it has its fair share of uncertainties and risks. So, it is extremely important to have your family’s buy in, you wouldn’t want them to suffer financial drawbacks caused by rushing into this transition.

Keep at it for at least a year and see what happens. The trigger points arise when you notice that you start making adjustments to your life and to your 9 to 5 job because of the freelance work.

Your income from your freelance work starts exceeding your 9-5 job’s income and that is when you can think of giving freelancing a shot as a permanent career. At this point, you will have already established a line of revenue streaming in and a list of paying customers that know and trust your work.

Whether transitioning from a 9 to 5 job to freelancing is your move or not, working less with more flexibility and earning more is definitely something worth giving a shot.

And in the current circumstances and with everything happening in the world, it is the best time for you to reach out and extend the profitability of your skills.

6 Steps To Start A Successful Freelancing Career (Plus How To Work Less And Earn More As A Freelancer)
6 Steps To Start A Successful Freelancing Career (Plus How To Work Less And Earn More As A Freelancer). Pin It on Pinterest.

Are you currently working as a freelancer? Have you got any tips for beginners on how to start a successful freelance career? Share in the comments below!

Co-author: Ashutosh Garg

Ashutosh Garg

A Product Manager at Refrens.com—India’s most powerful platform for freelancer’s finances and growth. He’s helped some renowned technology companies with their products.
LinkedIn | Twitter


Author: Ray

Because a goal is a dream with a deadline, I started my one-year journey to achieving financial freedom. On those rare hours of day when I'm not working on that goal, I'm writing fiction, watching a film, or feeding birds.

16 thoughts on “6 Steps To Start A Successful Freelancing Career (Plus How To Work Less And Earn More As A Freelancer)”

  1. These are really great tips but you also need this: work on your mindset and any blocks you have

    Because it doen’t matter how great you think you are, if you’ve got blocks you’ll never reach your full potential

  2. Some great advice! A lot of freelancers start out skipping the step where they would select their niche, believing that it will lead to less work as you’re limiting the work that you’re willing to take on and the clients that you’ll work with. However, clients are looking for those who specialize! It gives you that leg up in landing pitches! As the saying goes, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’.

    1. That’s a very good point indeed! Picking a specific niche is definitely one of the vital initial steps to consider as a freelancer.

  3. This is a great post! I’m currently working on building up my portfolio as I’m hoping to get into freelancing soon!


  4. This is super helpful. Figuring out how to turn a freelance into a full time gig is tricky, but you have included a lot of good advice here to try out. I especially appreciate the advice to enter in with some caution because freelancing can be so unstable!

    1. True, it’s definitely important to be careful if you plan to make it a full time job. So glad you found this a helpful read!??

      1. Such a lovely compliment Javier! Thank you! This was a collaborative effort along with Ashutosh the main author, glad you enjoyed it. ?

  5. Wow. You covered it all in a single article. It is so insightful and a detailed article on how to become successful as a freelancer. Thank you for sharing. This is extremely helpful.

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