A step by step guide

A freelancer is someone who works for his or her client and gets paid directly. Many of us want to enjoy the freedom of a freelancer. Sadly, we are too afraid that we will fail and end up broke.

I started as a freelancer when I created a brochure for a brand of wine back in April 2012.  Now, I already have clients from the US, Australia and Europe asking me to develop their website or create a Powerpoint presentation.

In this article, I will share my experiences and give you the steps I took that made me earn a decent amount from my freelancing career.

Know yourself

This is the most important step that you should take. What can you do for other people? Can you write? Design? Can you type fast and accurate?

Even simple skills like transcribing – listening to a recorded audio and writing it down can be your most valuable asset.

When I started, the skill that I offered was creating Powerpoint presentations. Anyone can do that! But I enhanced that skill and used Powerpoint in creating the layout of the brochure I mentioned above.

Prepare a simple portfolio

Don’t freak out. Making a portfolio is very easy.

If you are a writer, have at least 3 articles about anything. Even that essay you once written for school can be one of the items in your portfolio.

This is also easy for designers. Just look for anything that you edited. If you once designed a poster, that would be a great item in your portfolio. If not, go ahead and make one. It can be a simple announcement of a promo.

I actually used two Powerpoint presentations and a simple design for the cover of our yearbook in my portfolio.

Create your profile

It’s now time to create your profile in websites that offer freelance opportunities. Some people say that you should have profiles in many websites. I think it’s my laziness that caused this but up to now, I only have a single account and that’s at odesk.com.

When you sign up at oDesk, you’ll be asked to provide some personal information, educational background and work experience. Don’t worry, even students and people without experience yet are welcome. Clients are more interested in what you can do.

You should take screenshots or pictures of the items in your portfolio to put up in your oDesk portfolio.

If you think others are correct, go ahead and create another account at elance.com – that’s another website for freelancers.

Your hourly rate and skills test

Before applying for jobs at oDesk, you need to specify your hourly rate. Don’t make it too high or too low. I started at $3 per hour which is low by US standards but that’s already ₱ 120.00 per hour.

Now let’s put your skills to the test and take some of the skills test available at oDesk. Be patient, you need this to impress your future clients with your very good scores.

Start with the oDesk readiness test which can be answered by reviewing the answers here. The next test that you should take should be related to your skill. For me, that’s the Microsoft Powerpoint 2010 test.

Applying for jobs

Finally, you can now apply for jobs. It’s obvious but you should only apply for jobs that you are confident with your skills.

I apply for jobs where I’m asked to create a Powerpoint presentation or code a website using HTML and CSS. But I never dared to apply for jobs that require AJAX programming. Although I have plans to learn that.

There are jobs that have fixed rates. I actually prefer them than the hourly ones.

When you apply for a job, you’ll be asked to input the hourly rate or the fixed rate that you will charge to the client. For hourly jobs, you just input your hourly rate. However, you need to be cautious with fixed rate jobs.

You’re still starting and you need some good feedbacks which will appear on your profile. The technique that I used in winning my first jobs in oDesk is offering very low rates. I once made a Powerpoint presentation for just $5. That gave me a very good feedback from my client which in turn led me to more clients.

Setting up payment modes

After doing some jobs at oDesk and earning a few dollars in your oDesk wallet, you’ll want to receive that money in your hands. You now need to set up the method that you’ll receive payments.

If you have a bank account, this will be easy since oDesk already offers direct bank deposit. My bank account is the same account I had when I worked for STI College Ormoc. Our salary was made through ATM and that gave me the back account.

For those who don’t have a bank account, I can offer you some help. You can ask me to receive your money in my bank account and I forward it to you using the different services available here in the Philippines.

Living on freelancing income completely

Yes, it’s possible to live entirely on freelancing income. But it does not come overnight or over a month. It takes perseverance and patience to establish yourself in your field and earn a decent amount.

Just this month, I quit my job as a high school Physics and Chemistry teacher to focus on freelancing. But that’s not my only source of income online. I also have this blog, several articles scattered around the internet in sites like Squidoo.com and Hubpages.com.

Aside from my earnings online, I also take some freelance work offline like serving as PCOS technician during the elections and repairing computers.

All of these freelancing jobs are way better than working on a job. That might be because teaching in high school is a very demanding job or my passion is not really there. Whatever the reason may be, I am free and I earn enough to answer my needs and responsibilities.

Add to that an increased amount of time to spend with my loved ones and activities that I enjoy and I’m a happy and contented freelancer.