The future of work is changing quickly as more and more individuals are working as freelancers or contract workers. With so many reasons to make the switch – here’s how to become a contractor in 7 steps.
There’s no question that the freelance market is growing in strength and size, a trend that mirrors the continued growth of the gig economy and draws attention to the fact that today’s workforce is hard at work trying to maintain several sources of income in order to secure a better future, and more people are seeking out second jobs.
Should You Become a Contractor?
It’s back-breaking work, but there’s a lot of lucrative potential behind investing in yourself to become a contractor. But where to begin?
As the market grows, the internet looks less and less like the ideal opportunity to market yourself, and more and more like an endless sea of talent, growing every day.
Standing out from the rest takes a little luck and a lot of legwork, but with the right approach, you can carve out a name for yourself and start building an impressive client list. With these steps, you’ll learn how to become a contractor (and determine if it would work for you).
1. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Being an independent contractor or freelancer can be a lot of stress and isn’t necessarily something you want to jump into without any prior prep or clients.
Unless you’ve got the support and backing of a friend or loved one, or some other form of financial help, it’s not a good idea to quit your day job before you’re beginning to see returns on your time investment in developing a freelance business.
Like starting a company of your own, there’s a considerable amount of risk in venturing to become a contractor. A reliable source of income will be important, so you can focus on developing your reputation and doing quality work, rather than struggling to survive on day one.
2. Identify and Develop Your Skills
It’s important to find your niche.
What are you good at? What services do you provide best? Where is your expertise? What experience do you have? What is it that you like doing best, and where do your talents shine the most?
There are plenty of different jobs that freelancers can fulfill, such as:
- Creating art assets to managing short-term teams
- Doing web development
- Working on software
- Being a hardware specialist
- Building custom tech
- Planning and executing social marketing tactics
- Curating and creating blogs, and much more
But identifying what you’re good at or like doing is just the first step. You have to take a look at your competition and figure out what niche you could take advantage of first.
Where are clients being underserved when it comes to blog content, online marketing, and more? Finding the right angle to begin looking for clients is an important step.
3. Continuously Strive to Improve
Another important step to become a contractor is continuously getting better. You might be a great writer, but there’s no reason you should stop at that. Continue learning about ways to monetize your skill.
Figure out what kind of writing gets the most reads and clicks. Maximize your value as a professional and absorb as much knowledge as you can about honing your craft specifically for commercial purposes.
Diversify and add new skills to your portfolio. Pick up photography, if you know anyone who can help you get started or lend you professional equipment. Do voice work, learn video editing, put your talents and/or experience as an art student to use in designing and making digital art assets, and more.
4. Find Other Successful and Experienced Professionals
It’s always a good idea to keep a finger on the pulse of your particular niche or industry and see how other freelancers in similar areas of expertise are making their money. Many freelancers continue to profit off their own skills by teaching others how to get started on their own, often for free.
Soak in the information and incorporate what you can, whether it’s about investing more time in developing your own portfolio or checking out new resources to help find clients. Profit off the experience and work of others.
5. Work at Coworking Spaces
Another way to find clients and establish important connections is to spend your free time working on your freelancing dreams at coworking spaces. Not only are these a great way to meet new clients, but they’re also an opportunity to discover other freelancers with similar or completely different skillsets, opening up possibilities for collaboration.
Coworking spaces are also great spaces to work. They’re often conducive towards getting a lot of creative work done and offer a variety of different spaces depending on what you need – whether it’s a quiet nook, or a buzzed atmosphere.
6. Hone a Professional Reputation Online
There are countless tools to help you develop and hone your own professional brand and reputation and meld it with your own unique personality and interests. Don’t be afraid to combine what you do with what you love.
Are you a talented artist and interested particularly in insects and entomology? Translate that love into studying and learning more about drawing a wild variety of insects and producing interesting and informative visual content to help readers learn more about creatures they might find icky by casting them in a cool or cute light.
There are countless ways to create your own brand and leverage your unique interests to produce content that might attract both readers as well as potential clients looking for a subset of skills, or just a talented and resourceful worker.
Even if creativity isn’t your strong suit, places like LinkedIn and Twitter can be a great way to:
- Interact with others online
- Identify and build professional relationships
- Find more work
The best part, of course, is that an interesting and fleshed-out online presence can actually help you find clients without actively searching for them. They’ll look for you, instead.
7. Never Stop Developing Your Personal Brand
‘Personal brand’ has become a buzzword in the age of social media, but it is an important concept.
While the sanctity of the steady, secure job within a larger corporate structure won’t disappear any time soon, it’s becoming more and more important for workers to advertise themselves in order to land better offers and find opportunities for work.
These are critical steps to become a contractor or freelancer, as your personal brand is exactly what you’re trying to sell. These tips are all about helping you begin to develop that brand, and the skillset needed to deliver quality work.
Choosing to begin freelance or contractor work is not for everyone.
However, with the gig economy transforming the way we work, it may be wise to begin some sort of contractor career. These steps can help you in this process.