Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to Work as an Online Freelancer

Freelancing from Home

For many people, working from home is the dream--roll out of bed, no commute, and spend the day doing something you love. But if your place of employment doesn't have a work from home program, can you start your own business and make that happen? Is it feasible, and how much work does it take?

One of the hardest parts of starting your own business where you work from home is generating business (and thus profits!). However, working as an online freelancer is not impossible, and many people succeed at it. You will need dedication, determination, talent, and a plan!


Choosing a Field for Online Freelance Work

Once you've decided you would like to be an online freelancer, you will need to choose a field--more specifically, a service-based field. If you have a talent for writing, graphic design, transcription, or editing, you can probably find online work and start building a client base.

So, sit and think about your talents and how you can best apply them to a service-based field. Think outside of the box and get creative--you never know when you'll hit that perfect niche market.

From personal experience: I needed a way to make extra money while putting myself through law school, so I decided to use my English degree and internships in publishing to start an online editing, proofreading, and writing business. I reached out to publishing houses and set up a website, and within a year I had a steady income (not enough to live off of, but enough to get by).

Creating a Website and Building a Client Base

Word of mouth on the street CAN get you business, but networking in-person isn't enough anymore--you will also need an online presence if you're going to work as an online freelancer. If you're short on start-up cash, make your own website through a provider like GoDaddy.

On your website, make sure your grammar and spelling are perfect--you want to present a professional image. Also be sure to list your qualifications and your passion for the work you're doing--remember, your website is to sell your services and yourself as a professional!

Unfortunately, just having a website doesn't guarantee business--there's just too much competition in the search engines. You will have to promote your website on social media--Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc.
Sites like,, and are also a great way to build a client base. On those sites, you bid for a project, and the person posting the project picks the best fit (or in some unfortunate cases, the cheapest fit). You probably will not get paid what you are worth on these sites--but if you do a great job, clients will come back and likely be amenable to increasing your rate of pay.

From personal experience: I started editing and proofreading on in 2009, and I have several lasting relationships with clients from the site. Though I can't speak to the other sites, I can attest that starting off with the sites is a good way to gain exposure and generate clientele.

Final Considerations

Some final words of advice:
  • Don't quit your existing job cold-turkey to work as an online freelancer--it takes time to build a reputation and clientele. Start out part-time in the evenings and see how your workload increases; when you do decide to go full-time, be sure to have a nest egg saved up.
  • Don't join sites that pay you a pittance to do menial tasks--you could make more extra money working at the mall, and clicking buttons to make $3 will not lead to more clients down the road.
  • Don't do a full project without at least some sort of payment--and develop a contract (or find one online) to bind clients to payment.
  • Always ask for a testimonial--nothing will sell your services like the honest, positive opinions of another client.
  • It's tempting to work almost around the clock once you get a steady flow of clients, but don't--you will burn out!
Online freelancing can be a great world to enter--it offers freedom, flexibility, and extra income. With a little hard work, you too can join the ranks of online workers!

Guest Post by: Nigar Sultana

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