How to Become a Paid Freelancer. Personal Experience

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I was always weary of people that claimed to be freelancers, feeling that they were mysterious in some way. It seemed like they were trying to be less than transparent, but the truth is I just didn't understand what it meant to be a freelancer. A freelancer is simply a self-employed person that offers their services to people and/or companies without long-term employment. Once I understood the definition of a freelancer, I thought I wanted to become one. I liked the idea of working when I wanted, while having the freedom to take time off when I needed, without anyone's approval. While this career had its perks, I was also doubtful in my ability to make a living as a freelance artist. I may have learned what a freelancer was but I still had no idea how to become a paid freelancer.

As usual, I attempted to ease my curiosity by searching the internet. To my surprise there were many online communities and services dedicated to connecting freelancers with clients willing to pay for their services. I was shocked to learn how simply and cheaply you could join these communities and earn money as a freelancer. My excitement was soon met with doubt. I joined the communities, uploaded a portfolio and applied to jobs only to receive no responses. I would send out proposals everyday proclaiming how much I wanted the opportunity and what I was capable of completing, but no one was interested. Maybe becoming a freelancer was not as easy as I thought.

I began to think that I might not be the right fit for a freelancer as I applied to more jobs with no success. It was a chance meeting with a friend at brunch that changed my entire approach to freelancing. I was having brunch with a college friend named Sarah, when she revealed her difficulty in creating content for her new website. While she was great at coming up with the ideas she wanted to feature on the new website, Sarah was quickly learning she was not the best writer. I casually mentioned how vital good content was as well as how much I enjoyed writing and would be happy to help her out. I pitched some ideas I thought would be good features and shared how I thought they would benefit her current customers as well as draw in new viewers. Sarah quickly replied, asking how much I would charge to write for her site. I was taken aback and completely caught off guard, as this was something I would do for free. Of course quality content was necessary for the website to succeed, so this was a problem Sarah was serious about solving. We decided to work together and this became my first paid freelancing gig.

I learned a lot about freelancing as well as myself from this encounter. The first lesson was realizing how my approach differed drastically at the brunch from my online proposals in the freelance communities. When I spoke to Sarah, I gave her a motive to hire me instead of focusing on what I could do and how much I wanted to be hired. Because of my lack of experience my online proposals were filled with self-doubt while failing to mention how I could add value. It is essential to provide an incentive when looking to be hired as a freelancer. What will you improve? Why are your services necessary? How will you be beneficial? These are the questions your proposal needs to answer when applying to freelance opportunities.

The other lesson I learned from my first paid freelance gig was that I had more opportunities than those available on the internet. You are surrounded by opportunities to add value and improve the lives and businesses of others. Focusing on how you can add value rather than how you can make money is imperative. You have to remain aware of everything around you and seize opportunity when it appears. Always be prepared to sell yourself and your skill set as a way to improve someone else. Using your talents and skills to enhance a business or life is how to become a paid freelancer.

Larry Milbourne is a senior freelance academic writing supervisor at – the online community of freelance academic writers from all over the world. Larry has in-depth knowledge and experience in the academic writing industry.

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