How easy is it to become a freelancer?
Really easy actually. You could start right now if you want to. Pick a skill that people will pay you for (E.g. Social media management, video editing, etc.), find some potential businesses you can help, and approach them.
There are two ways to receive freelancing work.
- Approach businesses.
- Attract people. (Inbound marketing)
From experience, it's nicer to have people contacting you. The sale is 50% done. All you have to do is propose a solution and agree on pricing.
Some of my most profitable freelancing work has come from people emailing me. All I did was blog consistently, and people eventually found me.
But if you're just starting out, you probably won't have people emailing you. You'll need to approach people.
How to approach businesses
Most freelancers approach businesses wrongly. They go up to businesses and be like "Yo, your graphics sucks. I can help you design your graphics. It'll be $500. Thanks".
Not only do they offend the potential client, but business people receive messages like this every day. It's just another spam message. Why would they even care?
The trick is to give first, before asking. Sounds simple, I know. But hear me out.
Say you're a copywriter. Instead of cold emailing a business and offering your services straightaway, write a content piece and give that away to the business – for free! Most businesses would accept this. The strategy is to wow them first, get a foot in the door – then talk business.
Check out the example below. See how he gave me something first, before asking?
Yes, it's a hustle. But it's a way to stand out.
Why freelance from Malaysia
As a freelancer in Malaysia, you have the advantage of geo-arbitraging. Made popular by Tim Ferris, that simply means you earn in a stronger currency like USD – while living and spending somewhere low-cost, like Malaysia.
Before you say this is impossible and give a million excuses – let me share with you proof, that I've done this.
If an ordinary me could do it. You probably can do better.
More examples of freelancers I know, killing it.
Kenny Lee, a freelance writer receives work from all over the world on platforms like Upwork. He shares some tips for freelancing on Upwork in the interview below.
Wan Noor Faradawina or 'Wina' is another freelancer I interviewed who runs ads for brands like AirAsia, Maybelline, NYX, and Garner.
Both of them live in Malaysia and do work for clients in the US and Europe.
Freelancers are not mini businesses
As a freelancer, you operate differently from a business. You scale by getting better clients, not more clients.
Therefore, you need to be careful in choosing your clients.
Let me tell you a story about working for a bad client.
The client was near to closing his business. He saw me as a way to turn things around and was betting on me to turn a quick profit for his business. I quoted a high price hoping that he'll decline, but he took up the proposal – and I stupidly agreed.
When the project started, he started breathing down my shoulders every minute. I would receive a text from him every hour, asking for progress. And I would spend hours each week on calls, debating the right marketing strategy to take. It was a miserable time.
The client not only took up a lot of my time but also drained me mentally. After 3 months, I finally had enough and fired the client.
You should probably do some freelancing
Here's the way I see it. You don't have to do full-time freelancing. It's OK to freelance on the side.
Freelancing can provide you with extra income, a chance to polish your skillsets, and the freedom to work from anywhere.
What are some skills that people will pay you for? Who are some businesses you can approach today? Ultimately, what's stopping you from freelancing?