How To Start An Online Freelancing Business?
There are various ways to make money online: you can sell products and earn through profit, find a remote job, or do both and start a service-based freelance business. This type of money-making opportunity isn’t new to the Philippines, the country which is the 6th fastest growing market for freelancers in 2019, according to the Global Gig Economy Index by Payoneer – an online Payment platform.
While this type of online business is nothing new to the Philippines, it’s also oftentimes mistaken as a remote job. If you’re interested in diving deeper into the online freelancing scene, we’ll help you take the plunge as we discuss it more in-depth below.
What is an online freelancing business?
In a nutshell, an online freelancing business is a service-based business where the freelancer offers a certain skill that can be accomplished remotely like SEO, graphic design, video editing, content creation, etc. However, the freelancer will not be tied to an employment contract with a client. Also, the freelancer can contract other freelancers to fulfill their deliverables. The freelancer can take as many projects as he or she can and outsource as many as he wants and take a commission off it.
If you want to enjoy the perks of working online but don’t want to be tied to a single client and locked to a specific schedule, the freelancing business scene might just be for you!
How to start an online freelancing business?
Unlike an online business where you sell products to make money, in freelancing what you’ll offer is your expertise. This process can be quite tricky for those who are new to the remote work scene. And for freelancers who have been in the remote work scene for quite some time, it doesn’t get easier to go down this path because there will be some things that you need to unlearn to learn.
1. Choose a specific market
First of all, you need to boost your opportunities. You can start by narrowing down on a specific set of people or businesses to focus on providing your services. This will trim down the competition, boost your opportunities, and help you become more visible to the people that you want to work with.
How do you do this? It’s quite simple actually – choose the specific clients who you think will need your business. Women entrepreneurs? Or better yet, women entrepreneurs in the health and fitness industry? You don’t have to be right. You just have to choose.
- Health and fitness coaches
- Dating coaches
- Female online entrepreneurs
- E-commerce business owners (SMEs)
- Vegan or cruelty-free business owners
- Motivational speakers
- Amazon FBA sellers
- Real Estate agents
- Male Financial coaches
- Female Financial coaches
You can narrow down your target market enough for you to easily find a niche or space you can claim as your expertise. You only need to keep these two points in mind when choosing a market, make sure they fit these criteria.
- Are they easily accessible / within proximity?
- Family, friends, existing network
- Searchable on Social Media (FB, LinkedIn, etc)
- Are there a good number of them? Are there enough of them in the market for you to work with for a long time?
2. Choose a skill
Assuming you’re an aspiring freelancer who doesn’t have any freelancing experience yet, the next step is to choose a skill that you want to offer. Seasoned freelancers should already have this figured out, but even they sometimes have to reassess their skills and choose one that they’ll put forward. The thing with this is, you must have at least one focus skill that you can call your expertise.
While you don’t have to limit your services to just one skill, focusing on a single one can make it easier to optimize your profile (will be discussed later). Having a more optimized profile means packaging yourself and your expertise better in your social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and other freelancing platforms.
Many of these skills can be learned online if you’re looking to get into the freelancing business, it’s a must that you are at least familiar with common computer software. Although learning by doing is possible, it can be a bit tricky to convince a client to get your services if you don’t exactly know the ropes of the trade.
When choosing the type of service you want to offer to your market, keep in mind that it should solve a problem. Look at it in a problem-solving perspective rather than the title.
3. Optimize your profile
Optimizing your profile on Linkedin or Facebook will make selling your services easier and simpler – clients will find you instead of you looking for them. While clients don’t find you all the time this way, it increases your social media visibility when clients search for a certain need not just in Social Media platforms such as the two mentioned above but also in freelancing sites like Upwork or Fiverr.
The question now is, how exactly do you optimize your profile?
For freelancing sites like Upwork, Onlinejobs.ph, and other similar sites, this could be as easy as changing your title. For example, you can change “Web Designer” to “Lead Generating Web Design for Realtors.” Specify how you can solve the problem and who your target market is.
For freelancers who will be engaging with clients through social media (Facebook and LinkedIn), the above optimization still applies. You can add it to your intro or somewhere in your profile summary as long as it’s immediately visible upon opening your page.
Also, create a call to action button after your quick summary and add a cover photo that depicts your services.
Overall your profile should look like this:
Once your profile is set up in either Freelancing sites or Social Media, it’s time to reach out to potential clients. It can be an uncomfortable task to do, especially if you’re going to do the outreach in social media, but you need to take the first step to start somewhere.
You can also do a local outreach in your area, start with friends or local businesses who might need your services. Or advertise in your account organically while connecting with people who are within your target market. It’s going to take a lot of effort to build a client base, but it’s one that gets easier the more you do it.
The key to accommodating more clients is to find more hands to handle your projects – this is where outsourcing comes in. Collaborate with or hire other freelancers to help you complete more client projects. The more clients you get, the more work you can outsource, the more cut you can get! Before you know it, you’re already flipping money just by finding clients in your target market and getting freelancers to complete the projects for you.
This stage, however, isn’t compulsory. Some freelancers prefer to just get enough clients and projects that they can handle, and that’s still a business. The bottom line is, you have control over your schedule while you’re freelancing; this is how a freelancing business is different from being a “remote worker”.
Cost of starting an online freelance business
Realistically speaking, you only need to invest in a computer or a laptop to get started. For freelancers who wish to offer computer process heavy services like graphics and video editing, you might need a more powerful rig, which might cost a bit more money. But if you already have this part covered, you technically don’t have to spend on anything. On the other hand, if you don’t have any skills which you think you can leverage from, you can always turn to the internet to learn one, and for the most part, you can do it for free. You can also choose to go down the mentorship route, but that one will cost you some money.
₱20,000 for a laptop or computer
Online freelancing business vs remote jobs
Oftentimes, people especially newbies mistake remote jobs for a freelancing business. While they do have some similar denominators such as being able to work anywhere you please and carrying out projects through the internet, a remote job does not necessarily offer flexible working hours and it will also limit your capability to earn more.
In remote jobs, you’re an employee and your client is your employer; In freelancing, you are a service provider, a consultant, or an expert (if you wish) that is an equal of your clients. You won’t necessarily have employees in your freelancing business, but you’ll be collaborating with or contracting other freelancers to get some projects done now and then because you’re not just limited to a single client as a source of income or revenue.
Freelancing business is just like every other business, it will require a lot of patience, work, and a good amount of willpower to keep it going. The unique thing about this endeavor is that your skill is your capital. You can start from scratch with only a basic computer and internet connection and still make tons of money if you possess or acquire the right skill for your market. This can be a very challenging feat at first for both seasoned freelancers and newbies but the reward is priceless. You know what they say, “nothing worth having comes easy.”
If you want to start learning the ropes of the trade, you can join Facebook groups such as the Freelance Movement Workshop to interact and learn from experienced freelancers who are already making waves in the freelancing industry. After all, the best way to learn new things is to learn from people who are already doing it.