Wish you could work remotely while travelling the world? Eager to win international clients without buying a single plane ticket?
All you need to be a remote worker is a strong internet connection, an in-demand skill set, and a good work ethic.
Business savvy and a tough skin help, too.
But how do you get started?
What if you’ve got lots of work ethic, but zero understanding of how to find clients and build a portfolio?
Not to worry. The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Remote Working will help you get started.
Choosing a Service To Sell
Before you do anything you need to know what you want to sell.
What are your skills?
Are you an excellent writer? Are you fluent in two languages and capable of accurately translating between them? Can you build apps? Design websites? Create logos?
Think about what you’re good at. If you’re not sure, consider what you studied in school or what you do as your day job.
If you’re a full-time graphic designer, start offering freelance graphic design on the side until you have enough clients to leave your day job (if that’s what you want to do).
If you have a master’s degree, but can’t find a full-time job, you have a valuable skill set: writing, research, and editing. You can also build on your education with free courses online to learn about digital marketing or SEO writing and then offer those services.
Think long and hard about what you already do, how it can be valuable to other people, and start charging for it.
If you want to teach yourself a new skill, consider looking through some of these lists for inspiration:
- The 8 Most In-Demand Freelance Skills for 2017
- Upwork Skills Index: Fastest-Growing Freelance Skills in Q2 2017
- Employers are Paying Freelancers Big Bucks For These 25 In-Demand Skills
Building a Portfolio
“To get clients, I need a portfolio, but to build a portfolio I need clients.”
You do not need clients to build a portfolio.
Clients don’t really care whether you’ve been paid in the past. They just want proof that you can get the job done in the present.
If you design websites for fun, include some of those designs in your portfolio with an explanation of what specific features you included. If you want to build apps, include examples of apps you’ve built with a description of the app’s functionality.
If you haven’t already done some work (paid or free), but you know you’re capable, invest some time into building a portfolio.
Remember: There’s no need to say “this was something I did during my lunch break at my day job”.
Clients will ask, “How much does it cost to do this?” but they’ll rarely ask, “Was this a paid project?”
Need a little help building your portfolio? Here are a few helpful resources:
- How To Build an Impressive Portfolio When You’re New To Tech
- How To Build a Portfolio That Drives Your Freelance Business
- 4 Secrets To Building a Portfolio That’ll Make Everyone Want To Hire You
Remote freelancers have a few options for finding clients when they’re starting out:
- Freelance marketplaces
- Cold calling
- Marketing and advertising
- Friends and family
Freelance marketplaces can be great when you’re just starting out, but you should aim to find clients elsewhere so all of your work isn’t tied up on a site.
Be mindful of specific rules on the sites you use as well. Some sites forbid you from taking a client you found there off the platform. If you do, they’ll kick you off.
There are several remote working sites as well. These are not so much freelance marketplaces as they are job boards or resources for finding remote working jobs.
Get started by checking out some of these resources:
- The 15 Best Freelance Websites To Find Jobs
- 25 Best Sites for Finding Remote Work
- 11 Websites Where You Can Find a Remote Tech Job
If you aren’t intimidated by being a salesperson, consider reaching out to businesses and asking if they need any freelance services.
If people say no, don’t lose hope. Let them know you’re available if any opportunities crop up and maintain the relationship.
Have a portfolio of work ready to send over so that you can present potential clients with examples of what you can do.
Marketing and Advertising
While the thought of setting up Facebook ads or Google search ads is tempting, avoid dumping your money into a bunch of start-up costs.
Preferably, you want to make money before you spend, especially for remote work which has low cost of entry.
Cost-effective ways to market yourself include:
- Sharing your work on social media, your professional website, on job boards, and in marketplaces
- Producing short, useful videos that people can easily watch and share
- Attending small business meet-ups to introduce yourself to clients who need a freelancer’s services
Above all, be persistent, keep updating your portfolio, and commit to regular professional development.
Friends and Family
Tap into your personal network. Simply letting people know what you’re doing and what you’re up to may bring opportunities.
What if none of your family and friends have businesses that need copywriting services?
Still let them know what you’re up to.
They might know someone or meet someone who needs your services. If you present an impressive portfolio, they’ll be comfortable suggesting your name.
Making Sure You Get Paid
Perhaps the biggest fear freelancers have is not getting paid.
You don’t have the protection of a union or labor board. Moreover, the cost of taking a client to court likely costs more than what they owe you.
So how do you protect your time as a freelancer?
For projects under $5000, demand payment up front.
For all projects, demand a deposit.
We’ve been taught that you send an invoice at the end of the month and give a client 30 days to pay.
Don’t feel obligated to follow this.
This was designed for larger companies handling larger projects.
For projects under $5000, the risk is all on you. It’s easy for an unscrupulous client to simply disappear after receiving the work.
If you don’t want to demand payment up front, break up your project into smaller milestones. Let a client know that once you receive payment for the first task, you’ll move on to the next one.
This is a low-risk way to gauge how communicative, respectful, and trustworthy a client is.
Most importantly, do not start working on a new project if you haven’t received payment for the last one no matter how persuasive a client is.
Read as Much as You Can About Business and Remote Working
To start, you’ll do what articles like this one recommend. As you build clients and establish work relationships, you’ll understand which pieces of advice apply to your work style and which don’t.
Speed up the process of growing comfortable in your entrepreneurial skin by reading as much as possible. Read blog posts and books about remote working, marketing, and how to grow and manage your business.
Follow the social media accounts of other successful remote workers and freelancers to see how they manage their business as well.
Here’s to your successful career as a remote worker!
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