So you want to go out on your own? Looking for paid work right out of college? Planning to supplement your income with a few side gigs?

That’s awesome!

But I’ll give it to you straight: freelancing isn’t easy. If you love writing, or photography, or design or software development it is fun. But it isn’t easy. You’ll also need to deal with client relationships, invoices, organization, accounting and more.

There are plenty of reasons to start freelancing, whether as a photographer, writer, developer or designer. But no matter what you do or why you do it, you’ll need the right tools to succeed.

After seven years of freelancing, I’ve realized there are a handful of ways to make sure you start out on the right foot. These are my tips.

Find work faster with the right platform

First things first, you’ll have to find the platform that works for you. You have a few options on this front — be sure to do your homework to figure out which will work best for your particular niche.

First, freelance platforms. UpWork, Freelancer.com, 99Designs — all of these can be great options if you’re willing to put the work in. They take fees, but give you access to plenty of work in exchange.

Second, you could launch and market your own portfolio website (or use existing sites like LinkedIn). This is by far the most difficult option, but it could pay off in the long term as well.

Check out this guide from Skillcrush for more on building an impressive portfolio site.

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Your final option is to work directly with marketing agencies that hire out design, writing and editing work to freelancers. This may be a more stable option initially, but it also means you are giving up on the rate you could be charging the client directly.

Put your best foot forward with some solid editing

It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer or a photographer: grammar matters.

Use tools like Grammarly to check your pitches, emails, proposals and final works. For some extra writing mojo, give Hemingway App a try. The online tool will give your writing a crystalized edge.

Trust me: it doesn’t take much effort and it will make a big difference. Websites with typos saw twice as many clients leave the site as those that were error-free.

Delivering what you promised to a client is the most important part of freelancing. Communication is the second most important part. Take the time to do it right.

Get paid faster with professional invoices

Unpaid invoices can be one of the biggest headaches for new freelancers. You go through all of the work for a client, only to be stood up on payment?

The answer is to make your invoices as professional as possible.

There are plenty of online accounting or billing tools that can take this on, and many integrate with email or your other organizational tools.

But if you don’t want to deal with the fuss of a full fledged accounting and billing system, using a professional invoice template is your best bet. Download a free template (in Excel or as a PDF) and save it for all your future clients. A template can give your invoices a professional look while giving you the flexibility to type out what you need, when you need it.



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