Freelance Jobs: The Definitive Guide [2021 Update]


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Freelance jobs is one of the most popular ways to make money in 2019 and will become much more popular in 2020. In this post, we’re going to talk about why we at MoolahNinjas recommend freelancing as the #1 way to get started in the world of earning an income online. We’ll talk about how to set yourself up for success so finding, winning, and closing freelance jobs will be easy and fun

We’ll also talk about how to start freelancing in general if you’ve always been curious, but haven’t gotten started yet.

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how to start freelancing

You Can Start Freelancing and Making Money in Less than 10 Minutes

how to start freelancing

What You Get When You Become a Freelancer

how to start freelancing

Should You Quit Your Job to Freelance?

how to start freelancing

How to Find Amazing Freelance Jobs: Use the Skills You Have or Learn How to Build Them…

how to start freelancing

What You Need to Get Started as a Freelancer

how to start freelancing

10 Keys to Becoming a Successful Freelancer and Winning Freelance Jobs

how to start freelancing

Learning How to Find Freelance Jobs Will Help You Build Your Dream Lifestyle

When it comes to earning great money online, being your own boss and working from anywhere in the world; there’s not a better option than freelancing online. Every day, more and more people are realizing this and are trying to find out just how they too can get into the exciting and lucrative world of freelance jobs.

And why wouldn’t they?

It turns out that by following a few simple rules, you can QUICKLY rise to the top of the pack among all freelancers. You’ll have so many potential clients wanting to work with you that you won’t have time for everyone.

It gets better:

You’ll be seen as an expert, and you can command rates of $250/hour or more!

By the end, you’ll know exactly what skills you should be freelancing with, how to get your first clients, and how to grow your online income.


You Can Start Freelancing and Making Money in Less than 10 Minutes

The great thing about working freelance jobs is that you can get started FAST. We’re going to go over some steps in detail in this article for you, but all you need to do is:

how to freelance

1. Sign up for an online freelancing platform like Upwork, Fiverr, or Guru

2. Fill out your profile and input your information to get paid.

3. You’re ready to start applying for jobs! This can take less than 10 minutes and it is one of the main reasons why freelancing is such a great way to earn money online.


What You Get When You Become a Freelancer

Being a freelancer carries a lot of amazing benefits:

how to be a freelancer

1. You can work anywhere

You might wonder why anyone would want to know how to get freelance jobs.

At MoolahNinjas, we’re all about earning online income. Because everything you’ll be doing as you learn how to become a freelancer is based around computers and the internet, you can do the work anywhere you want…That could be a coffee shop, your home, or halfway across the world in Paris.

And speaking of which…

2. You can travel as you work

Once you get really good at getting freelance jobs, you can choose to stay where you were born, or take your computer and travel the world as you work. So long as you’re finishing your projects on time, your clients don’t care if you’re working in a cafe in Istanbul or at a beach sidebar in the Dominican.

work anywhere with freelancing

3. You can supplement the income from your day job

The best thing about freelancing is earning money ON TOP of what you’re getting at your day job!

Do you have debt to pay off? Want to save for an extra vacation? Looking at a new toy?

You can use your freelance income to help you pay for all of this.

And what if you don’t like where you’re working right now?…

4. You can quit your day job

Once you know how to get freelance jobs, you can get more and more clients, and eventually make enough money to quit your day job. Many of our readers have successfully done this so if that’s what you’re looking to do, don’t worry. It’s 100% possible and you can do it too!

Now, hold on a second:

As we’ll discuss later in the article, this isn’t necessary and is completely up to you. Some people want out of their day jobs and this is a great way to do that, whereas others just want some side income while they keep working at their job and freelancing helps with that too.

5. You can work the way YOU enjoy working, from your preferred schedule and vacation time, to clients and assignments

Everyone is different and has their own way of getting things done: Some people love schedules and waking up early. Others HATE to-do lists and work better at night.

As a freelancer, you have complete freedom to decide  what the best way for YOU looks like. You get to decide how and when you work: If you hate waking up early and want to sleep until noon, go for it. If you want to go to the gym mid-day and not stay seated at a desk for 8-hours straight, perfect.

The best thing about being a freelancer is the power of choice.

And even better? At a day job, you’re stuck with your team and boss even if you hate them. But when you’re working freelance jobs: Is your client complaining? Are they giving you too many headaches? Are they mean?

No problem! Fire them.

You never have to speak with them again. Now THAT’S power.

Now when you’re just learning how to get freelance jobs with no connections, you won’t be able to have as much freedom in who you work with as when you’ve been working for a while. But don’t worry, we’re going to get into how to find tons of clients later in the article so that you’ll have lots of choices.


Should You Quit Your Job to Freelance?

A lot of people wonder if you need to quit your job to start freelancing. At MoolahNinjas, we tell people that it’s completely up to you: You can freelance on the side at night or on the weekend while still working your job, or quit and do it full-time.


However, watch out: We always recommend staying with your full-time job to start if you have one before solely working as a freelancer if you’ve never done any freelance jobs before

There are 3 main reasons why:

It’s still completely up to you, but we recommend you have some consistent freelance jobs and you get enough income coming in for a few months in a row. At that point, you won’t need your day job anymore and you can quit anytime you want! That way, you’ll feel confident that you can always make enough money to support yourself.


How to Find Amazing Freelance Jobs

Some people worry that they won’t be able to find freelance jobs because they don’t have any skills that they can market or sell online.

how to freelance

When we list out the MANY things you can do as a freelancer people usually are surprised, and we’re sure you too have something that you can do that other people would pay for. But even if you don’t, you can easily learn a skill and sell it to clients.

  • Graphic design
  • E-commerce (through a website builder such as BigCommerce)
  • UI/UX design
  • Photo editing
  • Video editing
  • Video production
  • Web design 
  • Programming
  • Animation
  • Software development
  • WordPress site building
  • Tech support
  • Virtual assistant
  • Transcription
  • Technical writing
  • Copy editing
  • Copywriting
  • Ghostwriting
  • Translation
  • Accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Business consulting
  • Excel
  • Advertising
  • Marketing consulting
  • Google AdWords
  • PPC
  • SEO
  • SEM
  • Lead generation

Did you find something from this list that you know how to do and can freelance with? Great! If not, there are plenty of resources online that can teach you any of these for free or very cheap.

Here’s a quick list:

Udemy – Online course library where you can select which topic you’d like to learn about and purchase it directly.

how to find freelance work

Skillshare – Online course library with a monthly subscription model. You pay a flat monthly fee and get access to their entire course library.


Google Adsense – Offers free classes in anything related to google advertising, like AdWords, PPC, Google Analytics, and more.

You can also simply use Google to search for your topic of choice and you’ll find THOUSANDS of free resources, articles, and more to help you learn your skill of choice. Even if you don’t have a skill, that shouldn’t be a reason to not start applying for freelance jobs!

Some websites can help you find a job regardless of your work experience. Jobsora, for example, lets you find vacancies from all across the globe free of charge! Just submit a CV and apply for a part-time, full-time, or temporary position and you’ll get a response in a few days or less.


What You Need to Get Started as a Freelancer

The good news is that it doesn’t take much to learn how to start as a freelancer! Basically, all you need are: a computer, an internet connection, and your skills.

how to freelance

Here are a few other things that will help you succeed in the world of freelancing:

1. A good workspace

Though you may not be working out of a company’s office, it’s EXTREMELY important to have a nice workspace you feel comfortable in. This might be at home, a library, coffee shop, a coworking space, or  even a hammock at a sunny beach!

The important thing is that you have a place where you feel great getting things done. That way, you’ll be very motivated to do the best job you can. In addition, this will make your clients very happy and you’ll get more offers!

space to work being freelancer

2. Productivity skills

While everyone may be different, no matter who you are, you’ll want to get things done.

Once you start juggling multiple clients and especially if you’re working at your day job while applying for freelance jobs, getting things done efficiently is essential.

Luckily, we have an article on how to be productive prepared for you.

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3. Time management tools and techniques

Closely related to productivity is time management.

You’ll need to learn how to divide up your time between your various responsibilities and duties, because you’ll probably be working on more than one set of freelance jobs at a time.

According to Mark Manson, you can only work productively for up to 5 hours a day, and new studies show that figure might be as low as 3 hours a day.

We recommend you look into the pomodoro technique, which is a great way of tracking time and for productivity in general that you can use when you’re just learning how to get freelance jobs. Using some sort of calendar (even just Google Calendar) is a great idea too.

Another option is specific time-tracking software such as TimeDoctor. This will allow you to put in your projects and tasks, with the option of tracking them and your time spent on each one. This makes it easy to prioritise the main tasks and accurately track HOW you spend your time, which is useful if you want to do an analysis of your productivity at the end of the month.

4. Project management tools and skills

When you juggle multiple responsibilities, deadlines and clients, things can get confusing very fast.

That’s why it’s important to have ways to track your projects, what you need to do, and when you need to get things done.

There are MANY different tools which help you do this, and different tools work will work better with different personality styles.

However, MoolahNinjas recommends Basecamp. Basecamp is free project management software and is great for client work, gets rid of needing to email back-and-forth, and also combines a whole set of other features like a calendar, chat box, To-do list, and more.

5. Drive and discipline

We have to mention that you’ll need drive and discipline to win lots of freelance jobs. You can’t sleep your way to high-paying assignments…at least not at first.

Here’s the bottom line:

While it is easy to get started and make money, you will still be the one who needs to find your clients and make sure that the work gets done!

Just be prepared to work to the best of your capacities and you’ll do great.


10 Keys to Becoming a Successful Freelancer and Winning Freelance Jobs

Now that we’ve shown you an introduction to being a freelancer and you’ve found a skill you have or want to make money with, here are the steps you should take to get going:

how to start freelancing

1. Define your goals

What are your goals when it comes to freelancing?

Do you just want to make an extra $100 a month? Are you looking to make enough to live anywhere you’d like to in the world without a day job? Or, do you want to expand yourself into a multi-million dollar company?

Before you get started, sit down and think about where you’d like to be over the course of one month, 3 months, one year, and 5-10 years. This will make it way easier to stay motivated and you’ll know where you’re trying to head to instead of working for no reason!

Motivation is key and if you have the drive to succeed; you will.

2. Set up your routine and schedule

As a freelancer, you’ll (hopefully) have different projects going on, and this can be a bit of a challenge to manage if you’re working your full-time job as well.

Make sure you set up a good routine and schedule so you know WHEN you’ll be working and WHAT you’ll be working on. This could look like you working every Monday and Wednesday night, 3 hours on a Sunday at a specific time, or whatever works for you. Just set up a routine and stick to it!

3. Pick a niche

Most people try to stay general when they start applying for freelance jobs, thinking that this gives them the best shot to capturing and attracting more clients.

It’s actually the opposite…and that’s why you should pick a “niche” when you start to learn how to become a freelancer.

A “niche” simply means a focus sector or group of clients. For example, you might be a freelance writer, but you specialize in dating and relationships. You can be a freelance web designer, but you really know how to make attractive websites for architects.

Here’s why this is important:

Going narrow doesn’t make it so that less people want you, you just attract a VERY specific set of clients and it’s easier to convince them to want to work with you…and pay you. This is exactly what you want to do when you first start out freelancing.

Think about it this way: Let’s say you want to get your heart looked at to make sure that it’s working normally. What kind of doctor would you prefer to go to? You can choose a general doctor, or a specialist who’s spent their entire career looking at, thinking about, and ONLY examining hearts. 

Obviously you’re going to choose the specialist! They’ll have way more knowledge and be able to tell you if something is off, compared to someone who is general and hasn’t focused as much on that specific topic.

It’s the same in the process of learning how to be a great freelancer: Clients will be way more likely to pay you (and pay you MORE) if they need, for example, email marketing, and you’re a copywriter who lives, breathes, and sleeps email marketing. 

If they ask you about your experience and you tell them you’re someone who’s ONLY focused on email marketing for 10 years, that’s going to be extremely impressive and make the client feel like they can trust you to get the work done. Compare that to just saying “I’m a writer”.

Get focused and pick a niche, whether that’s the type of service you do, or the area you focus on.

4. Consider incorporating and starting a proper organization

Most freelancers work as sole proprietors under their own name, which is usually legal, though you should ALWAYS check with your accountant or a tax lawyer to make sure.

However, you might want to consider forming some sort of corporation, organization, or business for legal protection either way.

It’s not necessary especially when you’re just starting, but if you’re planning to grow, it can be a good idea.

Again, we recommend you talk to an accountant or a legal representative just to make sure everything you’re doing is 100% legal as you apply for freelance jobs!

5. Know about how taxation works for freelancers and how to report things

Taxes work differently when you claim self-employment income compared to working for a company. Depending on the amount you’re making, you may need to pay quarterly instalments compared to one payment at the end of the year, and each country has its own requirements.

You can find some information for a few countries listed below, but please check the tax regulations for your home country. It’s a small effort but a potentially very important one in learning how to successfully be a freelancer:

freelance fees

6. Handle your accounting — track your revenues, expenses, and consider hiring an accountant

When you become a freelancer and start working for yourself, you can get a lot of tax benefits that are related to “business expenses” you spend. These expenses could be anything from the gas mileage cost to go see a client, software fees, and more. Mastering how to start freelancing has its advantages!

It’s important to have a system set up for tracking the revenues (or fees) for your projects to various clients, your expenses, and your receipts as you apply for freelance jobs.

We recommend you use Zoho Invoice, which can track your revenues and charges to credit cards and bank accounts. You’ll also be able to send nice invoices to clients for your projects. 

We recommend you have a separate, dedicated credit card where you’ll charge any freelance/business related expense as you grow so you can simply load the card into Zoho and export the expense charges. Though when you’re just starting out, you can simply note the expenses down in Zoho.

If you have a lot of paper receipts, we recommend you use Shoeboxed to track everything. You’ll be able to take a picture to digitize the receipt, and can get rid of the paper as well.

As you grow, you may also want to look into hiring an accountant as you get more and more freelance jobs: Accountants can help you organize everything every month, or simply handle your year-end taxes as a freelancer taking the stress off of you to file everything.

Here’s the bottom line:

We know that accounting can seem boring, but this is all EXTREMELY important. The sooner you do it, the better and easier it will be as you grow and make more money…and you want to make more money, right? It will also keep things nicely organized for taxes and help you save money in general!

7. Set your pricing structure and fees

One of the most common questions we get at MoolahNinjas is setting pricing for freelance services. People wonder if you should use “fixed” vs. “hourly” pricing, which simply means whether you should charge a client for your work by the hour, or agree that you’ll be delivering something for a flat fee.

We HIGHLY recommend that you use fixed pricing whenever possible. Here’s why:

Hourly pricing can become a nightmare: clients might complain that something has become too expensive or that you’re spending too much time, and you might feel stressed to work a certain amount of hours.

By using fixed pricing, both you and the client know in advance how much something will cost. You can add a small note that any additional work for a project might be done for an hourly fee, but try to set a fixed price for your work. 

This will also help you know how much money you’ll be making every month, compared to hourly where it could be much lower than what you expect. This takes off a lot of pressure and stress off of you.

We also recommend in terms of payment structure that you at least get 50% of the project fee paid up front, and if possible, 100% paid in advance. This way, you know that your client is serious about working with you and paying for the work.

It’s important to note that if you’re just starting out with little experience and connections, you may have to lower your rates of what you think is fair and you deserve to get for your first clients. But, don’t feel bad! Just know that it’s a step in the process of learning how to find great freelance jobs, and as you work more, you’ll be able to raise your rates. Rome wasn’t built in one day.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your pricing either: You might find higher prices work better for you, or lower ones get more clients. Which attracts better clients? Which gives you work you like better? Everything is an experiment and you should test things as you go. 

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8. Learn how to get clients

Finding, getting, and closing clients is obviously one of the most important topics in getting great freelance jobs and becoming a freelance star.

No clients, no money.

We recommend you start with one of the popular freelancing platforms to build up a portfolio and get your first clients. Here are our top 3 and you can learn more about how to get started with each one by clicking on their names:

Fiverr is by far the best freelance site where freelancers post “gigs” they can do which usually start at $5. Freelancers can offer more premium services as well. Clients browse for gigs and buy them directly from you. For example, “I will write 300 words of copy for $5.” Once you get more experienced and established, you can of course command much higher rates.


Upwork is another popular freelancing platform and is one of the easiest places to get started. You simply set up your profile, how to get paid, and you’re ready to go.

become a freelancer

Guru is very similar to Upwork, though a bit smaller.

We also have a dedicated article written up for you all about how to get clients.

Now, we do also want to mention that applying for jobs is a numbers game and you shouldn’t get discouraged if clients don’t come in huge numbers when you start. This might even happen after you’ve been freelancing for a while. Set a goal of a certain number of jobs you’d like to apply for every day or week, stick to it, and success will come.

9. Build a high-quality online presence and show samples of your work

Having a personal site for your freelancing work is not negotiable:

If you are serious about freelancing online you need a website where clients can find you.

jobs onlineThe good news is that you can set up a WordPress site in less than 10 minutes and have something professional to show your prospective clients. This will give you a HUGE advantage over other freelancers that are too lazy to do this or just have their profiles on freelancing platform.

On this personal site, make sure you show samples of the work you’ve done (a portfolio). For example if you’re doing web design, show off your websites. If you’re a writer, show some of your great writing samples.

You can find some examples of personal websites from freelancers here for inspiration.You can also check out our blogging section for more on how to make a website.

10. Practice pitching and learn about basic sales and negotiation

Even if you are the most introverted person ever, learning how to talk with clients over the phone, or potentially face-to-face, can be extremely helpful when you start applying for freelance jobs. It can make a huge difference when you know how to communicate well, the basics of sales and negotiation, and how to pitch your services.

basic sales negotiations

To learn how to communicate and speak better, you can check out this site.

For learning sales and negotiation, we recommend the book Never Split the Difference  by Chris Voss, who is an ex-FBI hostage negotiator. If he used his tools to negotiate people’s lives, we know you can handle negotiation of pricing and timing of your projects with clients :).

Finally when it comes to telling a prospective client about your services, you need to be able to articulate clearly what you do, why you’re great at it, and how it’s going to benefit them. You’ll get better at this as you work as a freelancer, but we recommend creating an elevator pitch to get started.


Learning How to Find Freelance Jobs Will Help You Build Your Dream Lifestyle

By following this guide, you  are now perfectly equipped to to find and win freelance jobs, and take your online income to wherever you want, both money wise and geographically!

how to find freelance work

You can start TODAY as a freelancer and the possibilities are endless: You can earn an extra $100, $1,000, or even more per month. You can grow this into a full-time business hiring multiple employees that you can sell for millions once you’ve expanded it.

While we’ve gone over a lot of details in the article, remember: To get started, all you need to do is:

2 thoughts on “Freelance Jobs: The Definitive Guide [2021 Update]”

  1. I’ve been doing freelancing through Upwork for a couple of months now. I have made more than $2000 already. It’s probably taken me around 150 hours to make that money, which I think is fine as a start. I’m inspired to raise my prices, cause I think I can get more customers now that I have read up on your guide. Will try to get some clients through LinkedIn and Upwork now

  2. Thank you for this wonderful article!
    This helps much as you’ve covered the how to start freelancing step-by-step.

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