Dreaming About Becoming a Freelancer? Don't Miss These Eight Steps

The Yellow Co. Blog

If you’re a millennial creative, there’s a fair chance that you dream about striking out on your own as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

We love autonomy, independence, flexibility and having a “fuzzy slippers optional” dress code. Being a freelancer gives you the opportunity to work when you want and how you want. The freelance world can feel crazy rewarding but also just kind of crazy. No day job? No certainty? How do you even know where to begin?

I’ve called the freelance world “home” for five years. And I’m here to tell you, there’s no right or wrong way to make the leap into it. But I do have some tips for you as you seek to launch a sustainable freelance career. Whether you’re in school or you have a full-time job, you can take your passion and talent and strike out on your own.

Here are eight things that worked for me in building my freelance career:

  1. Build a website. The first and most important step to launching a freelance career is to be public about your work and own your “freelancer” identity. You can make a beautiful website through services like Squarespace or Wordpress and maintain it on a budget. It’s too easy not to do. Let the world know that writing/graphic design/consulting/etc is your thing!

  2. Create new content for your audience. Do it a lot. Be generous with your community by giving them free useful content on a regular basis. (Head to my website now and you can download the blogger’s editorial calendar cheat sheet.) I’m a huge believer in blogging regularly—whether or not you consider yourself a “writer.” Creating new quality content is the single best way to drive traffic to your website. People are reminded as often as you produce new content that you are a creative worth hiring.The Yellow Co. Blog

  3. Reach out to business owner friends. People want to be helpful and they also want you to be the solution to their problem. Let friends know that you are a freelance photographer or writer. Often times they have been looking for one or will be looking for one soon. People want to be helpful in general and they also want to help you get your business off the ground. So be intentional. Your entrepreneur friends get what the freelance hustle is all about because they’ve been there. Let them know that you’re launching this adventure. Become the first person they think of when they are in need of someone with your skill set.

  4. Set goals that you can achieve without the help of anyone else. Don’t hang your hat on getting “discovered” or waiting for someone to call. We’ve said it before: dreams don’t work unless you do. Don’t just set goals that take an outsider’s willingness to grant your wish. Set some manageable goals like: “I will pitch an article idea to a magazine once a week.” Of course you’re going to have aspirations that take someone else saying “ok.” But cross off some goals that only take you to achieve as you’re heading down the road to achieve those bigger goals.

  5. Deconstruct the paths of people you want to emulate. You want a freelance career. Who do you want to be like? Where did she start? What did he study? Who did she intern with? Set your eyes on where you want to go and then work backward. This will demystify the whole process of getting from A to B.

  6. Work for free but do it strategically. To get paid for work you need to have a portfolio. People want to see that you’ve done this before and you’ve done it well. But be strategic! Guest post for bloggers who have an audience that you want to reach. Do graphic design work for a local company that has a highly visible social media presence. Intern with a business owner who has a company like one you’d like to build one day.The Yellow Co. Blog

  7. Read, read, read. Self-education cannot be overestimated when it comes to building a freelance career. You have a wealth of information at your finger tips. Search Pinterest, Twitter, TED Talks, and even this very website for practical guidance on your craft and how to build a business. Ask people you admire for their reading recommendations. You will learn a great deal by committing to reading all the information you can about your passion and business. The information is out there. It’s up to you to get it.

  8. Make failure your new best friend. Fear has an uncanny way of getting under our skin and paralyzing us. But the truth is, once you’ve lived through a failure or two, you realize it doesn’t kill you. So get friendly with failing. Get comfortable with it. Confronting your fear of failing and identifying what it is that you’re scared of zaps it of its power. So articulate what you’re scared of. What’s the worst that could happen? When you say it out loud, you take away its power.

Launching a freelance career is not for everyone. But if you dream of being your own boss, having the flexibility to work when and how you want, and like the idea of being an “owner,” it really may be for you. Opportunity is out there. It’s up to you to get after it.

Photos by Caca Santoro


Hilary Sutton