So you want to be a freelancer? (Or at least you think you do.)
There are some great perks to being a freelancer and having more freedom and flexibility than those employed by a company.
However, that freedom doesn’t come without a price. If there’s one piece of advice we can give you about becoming a freelancer, it’s to be ready for a life of constant hustle. Even when times get tough, those meant to be freelancers have the drive to keep going and must serve as their own motivation.
In short, freelancing isn’t for everyone. But if it’s something you’re interested in, it’s worth diving deeper to see if it may be the right fit for you.
The first step in considering freelance business life is coming up with an idea. What service can you offer to people?
To help you answer this crucial question, we have created this guide. Here you will find all you need to know about freelance business ideas to get you started down this path.
Developing Freelance Business Ideas
Freelance business ideas are those that focus on your skills and passions.
If you have always loved photography but never had the right opportunity to share those skills, you may want to consider turning your photography skills and interest into your freelance career.
Freelancing is growing in popularity, especially since COVID saw many people let go from their more stable careers. With the ability to work from home, many people are starting to pursue their passions in a way that allows them more freedom: a.k.a freelancing.
However, it is important to note that working for yourself as a freelancer comes with its fair share of stress, thanks to the fact that work is never guaranteed. But, it can come with many rewards, most notably the ability to have more control over your work, career path, and schedule.
Some of the most popular freelance business ideas include:
- Content writing
- Social media marketing
- Graphic design
- Web design
- Web development
- Game development
The Basics of Freelance Businesses
There are all kinds of freelance business ideas, and over the last several years, those opportunities have greatly expanded.
According to Statista, in 2020, there were 59 million freelance workers in the United States. This was a jump of six million people since 2014, and the numbers have increased even more since that study. COVID introduced a lot of new people into the world of freelancing, and many have created successful businesses.
Before you dive into finding the right freelance business ideas, there are some things you’ll want to consider-–some basics of freelancing that will help you determine the path that is right for you.
Little to No Overhead Costs
One of the biggest perks of freelance business ideas is that they typically have little to no overhead costs–at least at the start. But there are still some expenses you can’t get around.
The first is a quality computer, desk, and chair. You need a good work setup at home. You may be fine working from the couch at first, but it is highly recommended that you have a dedicated work space to help separate “work time” and “home time,” which can be difficult when you work from home full-time.
For many, their home has become their office space. Thus, out-of-home office space is likely not necessary. If you need an office or co-working space, this is an expense you must consider.
Other overhead costs you may incur are equipment and software. If you are looking to start a freelance business for graphic design, then you need to consider how much money you need to spend on the programs such as Adobe Creative Cloud.
However, any overhead costs for your freelance business will be much less than the costs involved in starting nearly any other type of business.
Expand A Skill You Already Have
When thinking about freelance business ideas that may be right for you, consider some of the skills you already have.
What skills have you built over the years that other people don’t have and may be willing to pay you to use?
Create a list of all your skills. They can include things such as:
- Customer service/sales
Though you may want to expand to new ideas with your freelance business, the best place to start is with the skills you’ve already been paid in the past to use. That’s because if past employers were willing to pay you for this type of work, that likely means that you are good at it and can sell those skills on your own as a freelancer.
However, don’t limit yourself to just the main responsibilities of your previous jobs. If your previous work was as a social media manager, you likely built writing skills in that position that can potentially translate to a freelance writing business. The more skills you can come up with, and the more specific you get, the better.
Next, move on to skills you gained from your passions or things you’ve taught yourself. If you learned how to use Photoshop in your free time, then that is a skill to consider for creating a freelance business.
Once you have this list of skills, start prioritizing which ones you are most interested in turning into a business and getting paid for.
Consider Your Passions
Don’t limit yourself exclusively to work you’ve done in the past and skills that you’ve built if you don’t enjoy those things.
Part of the joy of a freelance business is the opportunity to do what you enjoy on your own terms.
If you consider leaving your 9-5 to start a freelance business, think about your passions and what you want to earn your money doing. These ideas will often stem from things you’ve already done or are currently doing, but allow yourself to get creative.
This is a great time for you to explore. If you aren’t quite sure what your passions are, then try out some new hobbies. Take a writing class. Take a course in web design. Chat with a friend who does freelance work and see what their day-to-day looks like.
2 Tools to Improve Freelance Business Ideas
We get by with a little help from our friends.
And when you’re considering a career as a freelancer, those friends are the tools that make your life easier.
Here are the top tools to use as you consider freelance business ideas.
A Website Builder
It’s pretty hard to promote your freelance business if you don’t have an online presence.
For most, this will serve as your portfolio that shows your experience in the services you’re offering to potential clients.
Your website is often the first impression a person will have not only of your work but also of you. It shows your past clients and experience, both of which establish credibility. On top of that, your website shows the services you offer and who will benefit from them.
Here are the key things that your website needs to do:
- Explain what you do
- Show examples of your work
- Highlight your skills
- Provide testimonials from previous clients (these can be former bosses or colleagues if you are new to this freelance business)
- Your rates
- Contact information
Here are a few reasons why:
- User friendly. Wix is intuitive and has built-in features that make it easy to use for beginners who don’t have experience building websites.
- Website templates. You can build a website from scratch with Wix or choose from a slew of different templates designed to fit all sorts of industries.
- Business tools. Wix offers over 250 professional solutions you can take advantage of to further customize your website.
Wix offers a number of different pricing plans intended for different types of businesses and uses. As a freelancer starting out, you would likely want to go with Wix’s Unlimited plan.
For $18 per month, here are some of the features you’ll get:
- Free domain for one year
- Removal of Wix ads
- Free SSL certificate
- 10 GB storage space
- $300 in ad vouchers
- 24/7 customer care
Freelancing Platforms & Job Boards
One of the struggles of starting a freelance business is how to get clients. People often reach out to friends, family, and other business contacts to let them know about their new freelance business.
That is a great place to start. However, you don’t want to rely solely on that.
As mentioned, one of the key parts of being a freelancer is being a hustler. And some tools will help you with that hustle.
One of those is job boards. Even more traditional job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed are posting remote and freelance jobs more often. Then there are more freelance-specific job boards like FlexJobs, SolidGigs, and Remotive. Put in your search terms and browse through potential clients now.
If you prefer to use a platform designed for freelancing rather than look on job boards, here are two of the most popular options.
One of the most popular platforms freelancers use to get clients is Upwork.
This platform connects businesses with freelancers to conduct business. The industries that freelancers find work in on this platform cover a lot of bases and include:
- Customer Support
With your freelance business idea, you can create a profile on Upwork for companies to consider hiring you for freelance projects that fit your skillset and their needs. You bid on jobs from potential clients using “connects” through the site.
It is free to use and provides you a secure way to get paid for your services. Drawbacks include a limited number of “connects” per month and being required to stay on and work only through their platform. You can get suspended from Upwork if you take your client relationship off of the forum. Another drawback users have mentioned is that you have to sift through a ton of low-paying roles to find the better-paying ones–but they do exist.
Another popular freelancing platform is Fiverr.
Fiverr connects freelancers to companies for projects that span all budgets, starting at $5 (hence the company name, Fiverr). Despite what the name suggests, you can set your prices to any amount.
Freelancers create profiles to show off their work and build their own packages and pricing. Unlike Upwork, Fiverr lets you set your pricing and services, and then potential clients search for people to fill their needs.
When you are starting as a freelancer, you will likely want to create profiles on both platforms to increase your chances of getting work.
3 Tricks for Freelance Business Ideas
Here are some tips and tricks to have the highest chances of success with your freelance business idea.
These will help you in your new business endeavor, so take the time to read them before jumping in.
Start as a Side Gig
Before you quit your stable, full-time job to pursue the life of a freelancer, consider making your freelance business idea a side gig first.
This is an excellent way to test it out and see if you can make this your full-time career. Though you will be spending a lot of time working during this period (yes, that means nights and weekends), you must work out the kinks in your business idea.
By starting small and slowly building, you learn the ins and outs of the idea you’ve opted to pursue and also learn whether you enjoy working for yourself.
To get a feel for what your freelance business idea looks like in practice, do it as a side gig for a few months.
In that time, see how much money you can make doing it part-time and then calculate how much more you could make if/when you decide to quit your 9-5 to pursue your freelance business full-time. This acts as a viability test, ensuring the business will work for you.
Identity Target Clients
Your freelance business idea will never be a success if you are targeting the wrong clients. If you are considering becoming a freelance web designer, you don’t want to waste your time getting clients who already have stunning websites.
Take the time to think about who your target audience is for your idea. If you’re thinking about social media management, consider clients who create products or services you’re interested in. Think about what you can do to help their social media presence and strategy.
It is critical that you are marketing yourself to the right people. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of time and become frustrated when you aren’t getting new clients. Think about and list how you bring value to your target market and use that to show them the value you bring.
Set Competitive Prices
Though you are just starting as a freelancer, that doesn’t mean you have to charge low prices.
Your freelance business idea is likely something you have experience in. Thus you need to price your services competitively.
Research to determine what others who have comparable experience are charging for their freelance services, and create your prices around that.
Another thing to consider when setting your freelance business prices is how much you need to make per year.
Many freelancers start here and work backward to determine their rates. Just be sure that when doing this, you consider what other freelancers are charging for similar services so that you aren’t setting your expectations too high or low.
What to Do Next
If you are looking for some suggestions on freelance business ideas, take a look at the digital marketing skills in high demand. You may find something that resonates with you that will help you build your freelance business.
To help you build a successful company, consider taking an online business course to help guide you. Here are some of the best business courses to take.
An important part of coming up with freelance business ideas is fleshing ideas out with people you trust. It is best if these are people who have experience in starting businesses to provide you ideas and insight.
Reach out to your professional contacts (where and when appropriate) to see if they think your ideas are worth pursuing further.