Common Difficulties & 16 Steps to Become a Freelance

Freelance: The Complete Guide

I know what you’re thinking: freelancing is the perfect profession for web marketing consultants. Especially when agencies offer no growth prospects and flatten your working day.

You have no schedules, you can manage your commitments as you like and you can earn more.

Every day is a challenge, every customer becomes an opportunity to grow and improve your skills.

But wait, do you know what you are doing?

I don’t want to deny it: there are many positives in leaving an agency to start taking steps after (and only after) gaining experience in the field.

But also many risks.

For this, you cannot provide for yourself. You need a guide.

Fortunately, you found it!

What is a Freelance: a basic definition

A freelancer is a person who works for himself rather than for a company or organization.

Although freelancers do contract work for companies and organizations, they are ultimately self-employed.

Freelancers are responsible for many things that traditional employees are not responsible for, such as setting their working hours, checking the time spent on different projects, billing clients, and paying their work and d ‘ taxes. enterprise.

Freelancers are not considered “employees” by the companies they work for, but rather “suppliers” or “consultants”.

Digital marketing is one of the sectors in which the figure of freelance is more widespread.

But it is certainly not the only one. The other sectors, professions, and industries in which freelancing is predominant are music, Insurance writing, acting, computer programming, web design, graphic design, translation, illustration, film and video production and other forms of works considered central to the economy.

The biggest difficulties to face to become freelance

Life as a freelancer can be great, but it’s also full of obstacles.

In other words, the risk of finding yourself without customers is real.

As well as tackling overly demanding projects and having unhappy evaluations on your shoulders.

In some cases, all this can become the reason for the premature closure of the VAT number.

I don’t want to demean your prospects.

I’m just saying you need some good advice to tackle the freelance world. Maybe these suggestions can come from those who know the environment well.

Do you know what is one of the great difficulties for those who want to become online freelancers?

Realize that one day customers who come by word of mouth will run out.

Those who start this adventure get their first contacts from friends and relatives, perhaps from the web agencies with which they have collaborated.

Agencies often have to outsource jobs so they ask freelancers for help. Two or three such situations can occupy your schedule, so you don’t feel the need to intercept new sources of work.

This is a mistake.

Maybe the contacts who decided to follow you when you left your permanent position will take different paths.

So, if you decide to become an online freelancer you must have only one goal: to use the internet to make yourself known and have a constant flow of customers.

It can guarantee you good support for your VAT number. Which is the starting point for starting a freelance career.

The difficulties of becoming a successful freelancer – which as far as I’m concerned means being able to live in a dignified way with your profession – are endless.

And even if the web can be a resource, it hides pitfalls that you cannot ignore.

My experience? Here are my tips.

Advice that comes from the experience gained in over 10 years of working as an employee and freelance. Start marking these basic steps in the checklist (at least for me).

1. Start making personal branding The… immediately

Finding new customers online when no one knows you are difficult, especially if you start your precious personal branding business from scratch.

So you need to get active right away. Now.

When you are still addicted and your back is safe. As a freelancer, have you decided to network and your jobs arrive on your desk without lifting a finger? 

The great thing, but everything can end for this you have to build a brand. A combination … and make the name recognizable.

How can you handle this?

The starting point is quite clear and straightforward:

  • A website with a proprietary domain.
  • Curated social accounts.
  • Blog
  • Presence in industry communities.

This is a rough solution, not everyone has to have a blog or leave comments in the forums to do personal branding. The first way to get one’s name talked about is to work well, to give quality to the customer.

Or rather, make sure that there is something different in your work than the average. And this only happens in one way: experience.

2. Find out what your audience needs

You cannot create a virtuous path to find new customers online if you have no idea of ​​the needs, the needs expressed. The best way to activate this path: do good keyword research, which is a search for keywords typed in Google. The goal is clear:

  • Obtain information on the user’s needs.
  • Activate micro-groups of similar requests.

In this way you can get buyer personas to outline and organize to plan web marketing strategies – and as we will see later some contents – specific to get noticed by the right people, with needs that you must be able to solve.

This solution is valid for different solutions (for example for those who want to find customers on Facebook or Instagram, but also with the blog but it is based on a single concept: improving one’s online reputation through a concrete action of content marketing.

My idea?

3. Work on your online reputation: from Google to social

The first point to remember: people will search for your name on Google and Facebook. Maybe even on Instagram if you are a photographer or a chef. So you need a robust online presence. But above all, a good project to protect and monitor online reputation.

For example, there are platforms of UGC. Often,… like Tripadvisor or Trustpilot where can people leave reviews?

Do you have a Facebook profile or a Fan Page? Optimize these profiles so that they are easy to find with your brand name and contain all the information.

People need to understand who you are, what you do, and with what results. Encourage customers to leave reviews, respond to criticism and moderate what has no right to find space on your profiles.

There is never a second chance to make a great first impression.

Oscar Wilde

4. Enhance your Google presentation

What is one of the essential steps to becoming a freelancer capable of running your business with new clients? You need to improve the way you present yourself online. When a person searches for your first and last name on Google what does he find? The alternatives are:

  • Nothing.
  • An old site.
  • A single page in landing style.
  • A well-done site with a blog.

The first two options are bad, I don’t know if it is better for a freelancer not to be there or to appear in the SERP Buy a domain with name and surname, publish a website with a home page that tells everything about what you do and how you work to become a landing page

Then, if you want to improve everything, create a landing page for each service to have the possibility to hypothesize even a campaign ADV. Finally, create an internal blog dedicated to your business. But at this point, move on to the next paragraph.

5. Create an inbound marketing journey

At first, everything seems easy because you have a base, but what happens when everything changes?

You don’t have to be dependent on external factors, you risk finding yourself suddenly without income.

You need to develop an independent channel.

I see the best tool in my blog.

It is the most complete, it allows to intercept query information on Google to intercept any users interested in the services you offer.

But you can control social traffic thanks to shares. The blog allows you to increase the value of your brand and share your skills to let people know who you are, what you do, and what your skills are.

Blogging can be a great way to intercept potential customers but not everyone has the necessary skills.

But is this the only solution?

6. Getting known to become a freelancer

Of course, the blog is the main tool when it comes to inbound marketing. But in this area, you can look beyond post-writing.

You can get good results with video marketing, with Instagram, or with a simple Facebook profile. Much depends on the sector, but my suggestion is clear: don’t stop at the jobs that pass you through.

The secret (or at least what for me is a real operational reference point) is the perspective of inbound marketing in creating a funnel. The of acquiring contacts to turn into customers.

To do this, there are other ways to do inbound marketing for freelancers.

Ways to do inbound marketing

This historical graph of Moz shows a great truth: there are many ways to exploit this logic that has as its basic concept the need to be found when people need you.

The blog is not the only solution available to you, if you prefer you can use videos or create events. Whether online or offline, it depends on your business model.

Without forgetting other solutions such as monitoring the forums and social networks to give support with a good job of comment marketing. Finding your way to be found and to become a useful, credible, and reliable resource: is the goal of every freelancer.

7. Create specific landing pages

This is the goal to accomplish: every service you offer must be presented with a landing page.

That is to say a landing page, a resource studied in detail to transform a reader into a lead. In most … if the sales funnel is longer (like in the B2B)

So you have a contact interested in your work. Thanks to landing pages, people can make a decision, read and understand what you do and click on a call to action by filling out a form with a request.

This makes it easy to automate the online customer acquisition process. Now it’s your job,  often with a CRM. CRM stands for Customer …, manage the contact until it is transformed into buyers and perhaps into brand ambassadors.

In this way, you can also take advantage of the power of word of mouth.

8. Help people on social networks

A good activity to accompany this virtuous funnel of blogging and brand positioning (first on Google and then in the routine of the public)?

The activity on social networks for the publication of useful content.

The virtuous proportion according to Buffer.

In these cases, the golden ratio of social media marketing must always be taken as a reference: very few commercial links, a good selection of contributions signed by one’s pen but informative and a well-distributed activity of selection and distribution of value.


  • 1/3 updates with your posts.
  • 1/3 other content and interesting ideas.
  • 1/3 are sponsorships and ADV.

In these cases, content curation can help your followers, fans, and followers discover useful solutions, making you recognized as a knowledgeable and valid person. The same goes for comment marketing.

What does that mean?

It is a job that goes beyond simply leaving links in the comments but is determined as a decisive activity to get noticed with valuable contributions.

This can be done on social media like Facebook and Twitter but also on question and answer platforms like Quora or forums. For certain niches, these are still very interesting realities.

9. Start finding customers before you need them

What I have suggested, with the development of the blog, is a simple and effective path to find customers online through good content.

In summary, the circuit to follow is outlined by a truly effective basic strategy:

  • You study the needs of potential leads.
  • You create content that is suitable for people.
  • Traffic vehicles on the pages of conversion

Then there are the concrete actions on social networks to help and demonstrate your competence, from video to commentary in discussion groups, all your activities can be aimed at the ultimate goal to be achieved.

But the freelance tip that saved my (professional) life is this: you need to make a name for yourself before you need it.

Because when the time comes when you leave the agency it will be too late.

It takes months to make your brand mean something to potential customers.

Months? I’m wrong, we’re talking about years here.

So don’t make excuses – start building your empire.

This means that you have to focus on two fundamental aspects that are intertwined: personal branding and lead generation. In digital marketing, we use a…

The first term is inflated, often used inappropriately, but this does not affect its centrality when you decide to become a freelancer.

You have to communicate your way of working, your vision, your values. And you have to do it right.

Many decide to do personal branding with LinkedIn Pulse, I prefer the blog.

Much is established, as already mentioned, by the sectors. But in the end, it always comes to the same concept: you have to find leads to turn them into customers.

From experience I tell you that the process depends on different dynamics: some people arrive on the landing page of the blog through informational searches, others contact me on Facebook.

Diversify, optimize and keep working hard.

10. Work with your accountant

A practical aspect of freelance life: choose a good accountant and work with him. Don’t save, don’t think you can manage this world without the help of a numbers professional.

The state is merciless towards you, and you must be ruthless with the accounts: you must know what to pay and save, what to download and optimize.

You can’t do it alone, you have to move with a good accountant. Every holy day.

11. Diversify and scale

The VAT number is spectacular, it gives you a lot of freedom. But it has a small flaw: it costs.

And not a little. 

The state demands contributions and the accountant is inflexible with his reports. That’s why you need to evaluate the activities to be done to make ends meet. The advice I want to pass in this article: you need to earn more.

You cannot give time to non-productive and superfluous activities for your turnover. This is the truth. You need to direct your attention to the activities that allow you to monetize.

That’s why you need to aim for two goals:

  • Diversification.
  • Scalable work.

You are an expert SEOnYou can work in the field, optimize customer websites and set up campaigns to get backlinks.

Or you can consult with your colleagues and design an SEO course for 10 people. Or maybe you can create an info product to sell on your site.

This is the concept of diversification: find different sources of income and evaluate the most profitable.

To then reach on a clear concept: scalability.

You can’t work 14 hours a day to make more money and pay off your VAT number. You have to raise your prices, or you have to find ways to optimize your revenue.

If you do a 3-hour consultation for one person you can ask for a sum, if you do it for 5 you can ask for less for each participant but collect more. If you do a course for 30 people, instead?

Of course, the expenses increase but so do the profits.

12. Don’t lower your prices

I know, this point is difficult to put into practice. But that’s the best advice I can give a freelancer:  don’t sell out.

Don’t accept near-zero-cost jobs with the promise of new revenue and future jobs. I keep reading testimonials from those who write articles for 1 euro. And that they close sites for 300 euros.

In the beginning, you go out of your way to bring in new profitable customers. But this is a path that undermines your reputation and pushes you into a bottomless tunnel.

Your professionalism is defined through prices and quotes.

As a freelancer, you need to sell your classroom presence, your content, your SEO analysis, or your social media marketing business.

How to implement all this? Once again personal branding comes to your aid.

13. Learn to manage clients and work

What is the secret to freelancing and managing the work to get results?

There is no good answer on every occasion: I have been a freelancer since 2013 and I have seen many.

I faced every challenge thinking about how important it is to contextualize.

And manage the work without generalizations. So, in summary: is it impossible to advise on freelance life?

No, I just believe that there are no tricks and magic to be successful hands down and work 4 hours a day.

Maybe on the beach, with a cocktail in hand and earning rivers of money on the internet with passive income.

This is the first point I want to strongly emphasize: being freelance does not mean having free time in industrial quantities.

Indeed, the exact opposite.

You have to devote more resources to what you do because this is your project: you make something grow, you are personally responsible for success.

But at this point I think it is right to draw a line,  a useful circuit to get what everyone wants: a career worthy of the name in the world of web marketing.

So where to start this obstacle course?

14. Do not sell hours of work but experience

The big mistake of those who abandon the role of clerk, an employee of a company, and become a  freelance with a VAT number.

What’s the point?

Simple, in the past, you took a salary of (example) 1,500 euros for 48 hours of work per week.

So you think you need to replicate this balance by trying to sell yourself at an hourly rate. Wrong to think like this?

It gets worse, for example, the web writer who gets paid for the number of words. Generating monsters of length just to lengthen the broth. In reality, it is not such an extreme and strange eventuality.

Many professionals work with calibrated price lists but I believe (and I am neither the first nor the only one to do so) that the price. In a broad sense, the price is the sum of all …of a job is the sum of the experience gained over time.

And this is the value you must express. I know, at the beginning it is difficult for this reason it is normal to accept unhappy quotes when you cut your teeth. Don’t worry, we’ve been through this before: keep reading.

15. Don’t accept all the customers you intercept

The inbound marketing work is working, people find your name and decide to contact you.

But how many contacts can become customers?

Not all are suitable for your needs: some want to tell you how to work, others demand a discount.

Still, others think that your intervention is a solution to every problem.

Maybe with minimal costs.

Over time I have learned to refuse. Being freelance means this: training the eye to be able to reject what does not bring good results.

Better to lose a customer than find yourself with a disgruntled contact who talks badly about work (and I assure you they will).

16. Create virtuous operational flows

One of the main problems of being freelance: the dispersion of energy.

In the company, you had specific tasks, clear and defined activities. Now nobody tells you what to do and how to behave.

It’s in your hands, for better or for worse.

What does this mean for freelancers?

  • Organize customers to manage emergencies.
  • Halving the times means paying more.
  • Well, immediately and cheaply it does not exist.
  • Reduce useless and superfluous communications.
  • Use tools to streamline workloads and processes.

For example, I use Google Drive to work with my clients, completely canceling the sending of attachments.

Then I take advantage of the simplicity of Invoices in the Cloud to manage the accounting. Plus, Dropbox gives me everything I need to store and share links. Finally, what would I do without Gmail?

For workgroups, I recommend  Asana or Trello, platforms to manage the progress of projects.

In short, teleworking and the contribution of freelancers can be the keystone in a business balance that needs flexibility as long as the right tools are used.

And this also applies to the freelancer who has to make ends meet (always a complex challenge).

Conclusion: is being freelance difficult?

It is not an immediate process, you cannot expect great results after two days of working in this direction. And the same goes for weeks.

It takes months to trigger a virtuous path in which your brand begins to position itself not only on Google but in the minds of people who are looking for a specific professional for their commitment.

Do you still want to be freelancing despite the steps and difficulties you just read?

I can’t give you advice here. The decision is yours alone.

Many freelancers would never go back, many employees would not accept the conditions offered by the VAT number.

In between are the practices for achieving good results. 

You must be able to grasp the strengths offered by the web and avoid what can become a danger.

Or a waste of time.

Not everyone is inclined to freelance life, sometimes you have to force your nature to get what you need.

That is to say customers, turnover, new opportunities. So, using the web to become an online freelancer can be an opportunity to exploit.

Have you already started working in this direction? Do you find yourself in these steps?

Leave your opinion in the comments. We can’t get enough good advice to start and improve your freelance life!

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