By Amanda Pressner Kreuser

More than a third of the U.S. workforce are freelancers. Here’s how to set yourself apart–and up for six-figure success

The benefits of becoming a full-time freelancer or independent contractor are clear and compelling: being your own boss, setting your own schedule, and potentially working from your dream location anywhere in the world!

And the freelance market is growing steadily. In 2022, 60 million Americans performed some kind of freelance work, which represents an increase of three percentage points from the prior year.

However, with that growth comes increasingly fierce competition for work. I get a glimpse of that every time my content marketing agency has new work to assign; we often have hundreds of talented freelancers who are skilled and ready to take on those projects.

So how do you become the go-to freelancer who’s at the top of everyone’s lists for interesting, well-paying work? I asked some of our top contractors to share their best tips for building and scaling a top-notch freelance business. Here’s what they had to say.

Build your brand.

There are a few key ingredients to setting the right foundation for independent contractor work. A great place to start? Polish your website and LinkedIn profile.

Because you’re representing yourself as a business, it’s important to have a website showcasing your work, including some copy about the type of projects at which you excel. This is also an opportunity to highlight any key results from your projects. Did your ad copy double traffic to your client’s website? Was your article featured on the homepage? Don’t be afraid to brag–a little self-promotion goes a long way.

For LinkedIn, include an email address to make it easy for potential clients to get in touch, a few LinkedIn recommendations from your clients, and a link to your website.

Build your foundation.

As you develop your business, look for work from reputable organizations. You can get a sense of who those companies are by joining freelancer groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Signing up with agencies (like Masthead Media, the agency I co-own) is a great way to learn about a variety of projects and clients.

Many of the most successful full-time contractors I know started their businesses as side hustles while they continued working at another job. This is a great approach if you need some time to build up your client base and get a better sense of what a full-time freelance income might look like. As you increase your client list (and earnings) from freelance projects, you may naturally shift into the mindset of a small-business owner and transition into independent contractor work full-time.

Finally, lean on technology to help you stay organized as you grow your business. Project management tools can provide structure to help you stay on top of assignments, deadlines, payments, and more.

Build your network.

Relationships are everything in business, and this is especially true for independent contractors. Fostering strong client relationships and building your network are keys to any successful freelance career.

Keep in touch with your clients, get to know their business goals, and check in on a quarterly basis. For example, did a client receive positive press or launch a new product? Did you come across an article that’s relevant to their business? These are all perfect opportunities to touch base so your contact will keep you front of mind when new projects arise.

If a potential new client reaches out with a business inquiry, even if it’s a cold email, be sure to respond! This is still true even if you’re not interested in the opportunity or don’t have the bandwidth for new projects at this time. A professional response goes a long way, and you never know where that connection may lead. Pro tip: Organize these kinds of emails in a separate folder in your inbox to keep track of potential opportunities for the future.

Build your reputation.

How can you become the type of independent contractor clients want to work with again? Submitting high-quality work is crucial, of course. But there are a few other elements that can take a freelancer from good to go-to.

First, meet your deadlines, plain and simple. If, for any reason, you’re concerned about missing a deadline, let your client know as soon as possible and propose a suitable solution. Perhaps that means offering a new timeline or sharing an abbreviated version of the work on the deadline and submitting the full version two days later. Whatever it is, be proactive and keep your client informed.

Another reputation-building tip: Take time to understand your client’s processes. Make sure you know when and where to send your invoice, and track your time, if the client requests it. Confirm how long it takes the client to pay their freelancers. If your agreement says you’ll be paid within 30 days of submitting your invoice, don’t send a reminder about payment before that time is up.

Finally, communicate! Ask questions to make sure you understand expectations, keep your client informed of your progress, and ask for feedback during and after the project. This shows your client that you value your work and the relationship–and that’s a win-win for everyone.

Feature Image Credit: Getty Images

By Amanda Pressner Kreuser

Sourced from Inc.


Working for ourselves is more possible today than ever before. Thanks to the pandemic, the world was force-fed the idea of working from home and the feasibility of hiring contractors instead of staffing up a brick-and-mortar office. Now it’s an accepted norm, but even so, the idea of freelancing as a solid, relied-upon income, still holds a degree of trepidation to many.

Many freelancers earn respectable if not inspiring incomes. The question for a new freelancer, however, is how to get from ground level to that pinnacle of success so many seem to have obtained. Some guides tell you how to find markets. Others tell you how to manage your day. Others wax philosophical about how to establish the proper mindset.

Where do you find a quick and easy checklist of how to take your first step? Let’s give it a go.


  • Independence. Being independent, the great aspect is that you make your own decisions. The bad side is . . . you make your own decisions. Embrace this autonomy and make this new life yours. Make it one of the best things you’ve ever done for yourself. Until you commit to being a success, you’re handicapping yourself from the start.
  • Thick skin. The buck stops on your desk. You assume the accolades and the blame. You get accepted and rejected, over and over. Learn to roll with the highs and lows of this way of life.
  • Pride. Show the world your stories, your writing, your ability to communicate with words. The more acceptances you receive, the greater you feel, and the more motivated you are to do more and better.
  • Awareness. Your freelance work intertwines with your personal life, and you cannot help it. While on an errand you run into someone about a potential gig. Anything around you is fodder for a story. An idea can flash in your mind from a discussion at a parent-teacher meeting, and if you don’t write it down, it’ll be gone. You might shut down at a certain time of the day, but the world still turns and your brain still cranks out ideas. Write them down. Let your senses remain active 24/7. Accept that you never stop scouting for freelance writing work.


  • Time management. You have writing deadlines but also the administrative tasks that are the foundation of your work. Find the calendar system that enables you to keep track of assignments, interim follow-ups with clients, interview appointments, research, quarterly tax deadlines, and even the non-writing items like soccer games and doctor appointments. This writer maintains a phone calendar for on the go, a notebook for ideas, and a desk calendar for deadlines.
  • Administrative management. Define early on a system to manage your invoices, receipts, and expenses. Very early on, like, before the first month goes by.
  • Gig management. Define another system for work going out and work coming in with deadlines and benchmarks assigned to each. This system might be nothing more than a spreadsheet, but never rely upon memory. When you get going, you’ll be shooting out a dozen pieces, hunting for more, and may forget to follow-up on one from two months ago or overlook you already pitches that publication with a similar idea.
  • Travel management. Keep a log of mileage from just picking up office supplies to meeting an interview. Keep receipts for those meals you share with clients and people in the business. Be ever aware that a personal trip can introduce you to a person, event, or idea that merits research for a piece. The mileage then flips to professional.

Financial Groundwork

  • Health insurance. Simply put, have some. Not having it can drain your savings in days if not catapult you into bankruptcy. Health issues are costly, and sooner or later you have them. Options include: a family member’s policy, COBRA (if you left an employer), the Affordable Care Act (income levels apply), the local chamber of commerce (requires membership), the Freelancer’s Union and other professional organizations, a Health Savings Account, Medicaid, and private insurance companies.
  • Savings. Try to have three to six months’ worth of savings for basic living expenses. As you earn money, try hard to tuck at least 10 percent aside for taxes and savings, adjusting this percentage after you realize your income tax obligation.
  • Banking. Some have a separate bank account for the business and others let it filter through a personal account, especially if you remain a sole proprietor versus an LLC or other entity. But be prepared for clients wanting to pay via methods like PayPal, Square, Zelle, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Venmo, bank transfer, credit card, or check. Internationally, there are additional options like Wise, Dwolla, and Payoneer. Don’t let an inability to negotiate payment be the reason you lose repeat business.


  • Website. Initially, people must see you as a professional since your word-of-mouth hasn’t taken off. Post what you offer and why you can do it. As you grow, use your website to flaunt your experience, testimonials, published clips, samples, and services offered. Show variety. As for design, you don’t need sliders or deep customization. Whether you use a free service like Wix or hire a professional, the appearance just need to appear clean, crisp, navigable, and easy to understand. Look at the websites of professional freelancers like Diana Kelly, Kat Boogaard, Mandy Ellis, Mukti Masih, and Carol Tice.
  • Portfolio sites. Admittedly, some freelancers choose a portfolio site in lieu of a website. Some keep both. See Contently, Journoportfolio, Clippings, Muckrack, and Pressfolios.
  • Blog. While blog maintenance sounds tedious, a weekly, 500- to 1,000-word blog post can not only show off your writing chops, but also brand you. This blog demonstrates the lessons you’ve learned as you grow as an entrepreneur, teaches potential markets how they can grow from what you have to offer, and flaunts your personality.
  • Social media. Yes, you need at least one, and, frankly, LinkedIn and Twitter are the ones most geared toward freelancers with Instagram close behind. Then Facebook. Do not mix these with your personal sites, and frankly, your personal opinions might need to be tempered once you decide to become an entrepreneur.
  • Chamber of Commerce. These organizations are regional and aid business and entrepreneurship. The networking can be astounding, and surprisingly, not many writers join them, which only makes you stand out to those needing a freelance writer.
  • Business card. Yes, you still need these, and you should have them on you at all times.


  • Name. Use your name or name your company, but invest serious effort into the result. It needs to be memorable and is difficult to change later.
  • Logo or Image. Not necessary but if done well, it will paint you as a professional. Humans are visual animals, so give them something to latch hold of in their busy brains.
  • Niche. The world of freelancing is huge. Technical to copywriting, advertising to bios, ghostwriting to journalism. Define the types, genres, and topics that drive you and own them. That’s not to say you cannot diversify, but define that by which you wish to be labeled. It could be as narrow as food writing or as wide as copywriting for anyone and anything. You could only write for magazines and online sites, or across the board from corporate manuals to motivational speeches, but somewhere in all of that, be memorable.

Finding Work

  • Mine your life. Your neighborhood, previous coworkers, spouse’s coworkers, local businesses, schools, nonprofits, and government entities in your immediate area are the best places to start rather than taking your first step on an international, national, or state map. Who do you know? Let your profession be known amongst them.
  • Social media. Not only do you need a presence on social media for potential clients, but also you need a persona to interact in freelance groups, niche groups, and professional groups. Follow and interact with markets you’d love to work for. Follow professional freelancers (they often sub work to other writers). Share open gigs with fellow writers. If you are highly niche driven, make sure your posts and media page show it like Jerine Nicole, the Multipassionate Creator on Twitter. Opportunity doesn’t happen unless you are present and prepared.
  • LinkedIn. Be accurate, current, and polished in your resume. Study the work gigs available, and be willing to come off the hip for the paid version of LinkedIn Jobs. But also, rather than wait for people to contact you, find a company that fits you, study their online presence, click on Jobs at LinkedIn and see if they are seeking writers. Also click People, giving you a list of who works there. See if any of them are content creators, connect, and send them a letter of introduction.
  • Freelance sites. Sign up for newsletters and study freelance gig sites like Freelancer, Working Nomads, SimplyHired, Indeed, Freelance Writing Jobs, Journalism Jobs, Contently, and ProBlogger. WriteJobsPlus is a Patreon site that delivers a combination of jobs and gigs. You’ll soon discover the ones you prefer.
  • Testimonials. After every gig, ask for a testimonial and permission to use it.
  • Repeat business. After completing a gig, go right back to that client and seek additional work. You are fresh in their mind and they already know your work. Hopefully a couple of these entities will soon become anchors that you can rely upon each month for steady work.
  • Diversification. Accept work outside your norm periodically to seek new clients, appease a current one, or broaden your portfolio. In other words, don’t quickly turn down a request because it isn’t in your niche. However, do not accept an assignment you aren’t sure you can complete in a quality manner. When you start as a newbie, take different types of assignments and work for a variety of clients. Many topics will be foreign, but so can the types of writing like a blog post versus a white paper, or social media posts versus advertising copy. Your early days are hungrier days, and until you establish your brand and reputation, be daring and willing.
  • Mine yourself. New writers start off with what they know. Don’t discount your prior employment, personal experiences, hobbies, or enjoyments for ideas. Just don’t make it about you.

The Basics

  • Meet deadlines. Your client has more than you to worry about, and missing your deadline can create a domino effect on them that not only costs you repeat business but hurt your reputation. These people talk to each other.
  • Turn in clean work. A lone typo can ruin a second chance. Your misstep becomes your client’s gaffe when the words go live. It’s more than a little mistake.
  • Know SEO skills. These days writers must understand SEO, (Search Engine Optimization). Any online writing must drive customers to a business, and good content marketing writers are in high demand since their work also helps websites rank higher in search results. If you are uncomfortable with this strategy, you will find many simple SEO classes online. It’s not rocket science. SEO is needed in such writing as blog posts, web copy, magazine articles, mission statements, success stories, biographies, and more. And don’t forget that SEO matters on your own web and blog copy as well.
  • Style guides. Whether the Associated Press Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style, follow one of the main style guides that dictates writing formalities like grammar, style, spelling, and punctuation usage. Clients may not have a preference, but some do. Have access to each to be prepared.
  • Learn the LOI versus the pitch. A pitch asks for a specific assignment, like sending an article idea to a periodical or website. An LOI introduces the writer, in an attempt to make themselves known for future assignments. Study guidelines, website, social media posts about whether an entity prefers one or the other. Some magazines, for instance, solely want pitches. A corporate entity might prefer an LOI. When starting out, submit a mixture of both and a lot of them. Some writers do a certain number a week. Others keep a certain number in play, replacing them only after they’ve received a response.

A quick glance at online freelance job sites clearly reveals how much freelancers are in demand. After a quick study of YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook, you’ll find freelancers making serious dollars in filling that demand.

You learn as you go in this profession, and the speed is yours to dictate. Don’t overwhelm yourself, but realize you are the driver or your own success.

There’s a place for you, no doubt, in this freelance writing world. The difficult part is deciding which part of that market share is going to be yours. A little or a lot, you decide. Again, the best part of being your own boss is all the decisions are yours.


C. Hope Clark is the founder of FundsforWriters.com, noted by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 20+ years. She is a freelance writer, motivational speaker, and award-winning author of 16 mysteries. www.chopeclark.com | www.fundsforwriters.com

Sourced from Writer’s Digest

By Abdullahi Muhammed

Digital marketing is one of the top paying remote work niches right now. The compensation will likely remain high as companies keep ramping up their digital marketing spending. This year worldwide digital ad spending is expected to rise by 17.6% to $333.25 billion and reach an astonishing $517.51 billion by 2023. A fair share of those budgets will go into hiring top digital marketers, both in-house and on an ad hoc, freelance basis.

So how do you become one of the top digital marketers for hire? Below are several helpful steps that should help you steer your career in the right direction.

1. Give your mindset a quick check

As an employee, you are probably used to getting things done as per your boss’s requests. Typically, you are given a general direction for a project and you move on from there. As a freelancer, you will often need to become more proactive and actively take initiative yourself. Some clients will come to you with a solid action plan in mind. Others, on the contrary, may seek your expertise to help them devise a successful digital marketing strategy from scratch, or suggest what’s the best growth strategy for their business. You’ll have to jump into new situations all the time – deal with the potential mess left over by the past manager, research and test new tactics, suggest experiments and persuade the client why your advice will work better than what they originally had in mind.

This also means that you’ll need to work on your self-confidence and assertiveness to some extent. Imposter syndrome will be your close companion in the early stages, so make sure that you are not caving to it. You will have to always keep in mind that your success is not defined by what others are saying or some other outside factors. It’s directly attributed to your internal competency. Hence, focus on great execution, not reaching some mythical perfection.

2. Choose the right direction 

Digital marketing is a broad niche, encompassing loads of sub-disciplines – search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), conversion rate optimization (CRO), content marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) and so on. Perhaps, you’ve already worn several hats during your in-office tenure and juggled several things at once.

But as a freelance “gun for hire,” it’s best if you pick one core specialty and stick to it. This way you can avoid spreading yourself too thin on surface-level tasks in multiple practice areas and develop real mastery in one core area. So rather than being a generalist social media influencer, be an Instagram personality for high end clothing brands, for instance.

“Being a specialist rather than a generalist will allow you to build your personal brand and authority faster, attract a better cohort of clients and command higher rates,” said Dani Owens, CEO of Pigzilla. “Folks who grow to become t-shaped marketers with general knowledge in a broad array of skills and deep knowledge in a few or even a single one command much higher rates and deliver more bang for the client’s buck.”

3. Set up your website and publish a “signature offer” 

Having a portfolio or personal website for digital marketers is non-optional. After all, how you can sell your marketing expertise without actually showing what you can do? So invest in a quick website early on, gather some testimonials and feedback from your past employers or colleagues and set up your social media presence.  This way you’ll have several avenues for attracting leads and a quick reference board for prospects who are considering you against others.

Here’s one other savvy trick you can do: create and publish a “signature offer” on your website – a value-packed, yet easy-to-do service that you can pitch to potential customers. For instance, it could be something as simple as “Discounted 2-hour SEO audit for $150. Available to new clients only.” Your goal is to brainstorm some important, but non-critical task a client can feel comfortable with entrusting to a stranger on the other side of the screen.

Ultimately, such an offer can become your foot in the door and help you start a relationship with a new client and grow it from there.

4. Network a lot 

Securing those first few gigs will be the toughest. So get proactive early on and start putting your name out there before you leave your day job. More specifically, you should:

  • Join and participate in niche marketing communities. The popular ones among the marketing crowd are Growth.org (former Inbound.org) and Moz.
  • Later, send out quick LOIs (letter of introduction) to the people you’ve engaged with online. Explain what you are doing and ask if you can be of any help to their company.
  • You can also reach out to your past colleagues and friends, asking them to make some intros or provide referrals within their organization.
  • Finally, don’t discard offline networking. Mingle with the crowd at your local co-working space and attend workshops and local business events that may help you connect with new prospects.

Most importantly, use all your digital marketing expertise towards promoting yourself (just as you did with your clients’ businesses) and building a buzz around your name.

Feature Image Credit: Getty

By Abdullahi Muhammed

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a writer, entrepreneur and the proud founder and CEO of Oxygenmat. I graduated summa cum laude from University of Ilorin with a degree in Law, winning the award of the Best Graduating Student in the Faculty of Law. I started writing in 2009 and honed my skills by entering over 100 writing contests, winning 11 of them. I got into freelance writing and grew the business pretty fast, to the point when I had more work than I could handle alone, and started my company, Oxygenmat. Today, I help people succeed at freelancing and content marketing, and I have been featured on World Economic Forum, Entrepreneur, Inc., The Huffington Post, Search Engine Watch, The Next Web, Engadget, among others.

Sourced from Forbes