Being a mother of two little ones–a 2-year old and an 8-month old–I totally understand why more and more moms (and dads, too) are starting to look into the option of working from home. We want to be with our kids. We want to witness all their milestones. And we also want to earn for the family while we’re being parents.
In this post, I will share 5 steps that will help you kick start your freelance career. These steps are based on my experience as a new freelancer back in 2009. Tips from other work at home parents are very much welcome! 🙂
Prepare Your Resume
Are you ready to begin your work-at-home journey? Start by preparing your resume. List down the basics–educational background, work experience, skills (very important), etc. Kristen Fischer shares a few tips on resume basics for freelancers here. It is very different from the usual resumes we submit, so this is an important read.
Create A Portfolio
Now that you have a resume, the next step is to create a portfolio. Your portfolio depends on what type of service/s you plan to offer. For instance, if you want to land a freelance writing job, your portfolio could be a blog. If you are going to apply as a graphic designer or web developer, it is recommended to build a site with all your samples or previous projects (if you have any). This way, when you start applying for jobs, you can refer your prospective clients to your blog or site.
While others prefer directly applying to prospective clients, my suggestion is to try using a “middle man” when starting out. When I ventured into the world of freelancing, my middle man was oDesk. It was much easier for me to find job openings through this site since there is a readily available list of job openings with detailed job descriptions. Moreover, I felt that payments are more sure and secure through this platform compared to, say, accepting payments via PayPal or bank deposit from clients outside oDesk.
Set Your Rate
So you have your resume, you have your portfolio and you already signed up to your preferred freelance jobs site. You will now need to set your rate.
From my experience, my advice is to put a low hourly rate first. When I started as a freelance writer in 2009, I wrote one-paragraph articles for $1 per hour, 20 hours per week. The rate is really low, but I still gave my best. The outcome is a steady income (enough for a college student) and a 5-star feedback from my client. After that $1/hour job, I landed a contract as a virtual assistant and writer that paid $3 an hour. I also gave my best and received an A+ rating. One job after another came–eventually, my rate increased to $5 per hour.
Of course, if you need to feed your children, $1 per hour as a starting rate just won’t cut it. Here’s an online hourly rate calculator to help you set your rate. Once you have calculated your rate, check other freelancers in your industry/niche for comparison. You don’t want to set your rate too low nor too high.
Apply, apply and keep applying!
Everything is ready to go! It’s now time to start applying. This is where a lot of new freelancers usually give up. Remember, patience is key here.
In 2009, it took me about two weeks and A LOT of applications before I landed my first gig. If you are getting declined all the time, re-evaluate your application. Does your cover letter stand out? Is your rate just right? Do you have the skills the client is looking for? Once you have the answers, apply again!
Starting a freelance career is difficult. But, with determination and patience, it is not impossible to succeed! Are you a freelancer too? What are your tips for those who are just starting out?