How To Become an Unstoppable Freelancer

This is how you become in-demand and well-paid in 16 steps.

You must embody the spirit of being unstoppable as a freelancer because real talk: this ride is full of weird detours, mental meltdowns with ice cream at 2 AM, algorithms on social media you can’t control, requests to complete projects by mobsters and ministers, never writing anything that goes viral for years, and envy of people who work in accounting with two weeks paid vacation, this journey is a marathon full of world-class athletes who are also vegan that look better than you naked, that you have to keep up with.

You will have a mother-in-law that is a hater, a boss at your 9–5 that has a habit of hogging up all of your time (you can’t even pee without that MFer texting you about an email), you will freak out when a client doesn’t pay five minutes after sending your invoice and your car note is due NOW, you’ll blame Clubhouse for the demise of your niche, and you’ll pray every hour on the hour that you’ll get approved for that new loft downtown based on your bank records for proof of income.

However, if you’re ready to get strategic while amping up your confidence in your skillset, then you can absolutely crush it as a freelancer. Endurance will be your BFF along with executing on these 16 steps in order to tell everyone who doubted you as a new freelancer, “you can kiss my ass, I’ve made it suckers”.

From start to finish knocking these 16 steps out may take you a weekend or maybe even 33 days.

Give yourself grace and just focus on your dream of calling your own shots, no matter how long it takes you to fully launch (but I would recommend giving yourself a deadline for setting up your biz to keep yourself on your toes).

Let’s Dive In.

1.

Mindset Must Vibes

Mindset shifts piggyback on having the endurance to being unstoppable as a freelancer. Our corporate capitalist culture of rat racing is designed to keep us chasing one paycheck while relying on only that one paycheck.

Freelancing will force you to see 10 paychecks floating towards you all at one time. It’s like having 5 different jobs at once versus one singular position. There is no proverbial cultural safety net with a direct deposit every two weeks. You must realize that the freedom in freelancing is about getting a direct deposit every day from clients and customers.

In my decade of freelancing, I have relied on the Three C’s to navigate the self-employment waters as an indie writer. Clarity, confidence, and conviction are the trifecta magical formula.

The moment you decide to become a freelancer you need to gain clarity in two ways.

One, you need clarity around WHY you authentically desire to become a freelancer and two, you need clarity around what the hell you’re freelancing. Are you going to be a copywriter that focuses on the tech industry in Austin, a web designer that caters to women-owned businesses that generate at least $250K in revenue, a photographer that specializes in elopements on the West Coast, or be an entertainment journalist who lives for reality TV. All of which are very lucrative freelancing niches.

After clarity comes confidence. Yes, you’ve been told that you’re a bombdotcom photographer a million times since you shot your sister’s wedding when the original hired guy bailed at the last minute. But, do you honestly deep down believe with every fiber of your being that you’re that good? Of course, as you continue to plug away at your craft you will go from good to great, however, when starting out as a freelancer you must be genuinely confident that your skillset is strong enough to get paid well for it.

When you’ve relied solely on being an employee to earn a living your entire life, deciding to pivot and charge for your talent on a case-by-case basis will take some getting used to mentally. Tapping into your confidence will help you to break through this growth spurt with less tequila in your coffee and more inspired action on Monday morning.

To bookend this first step is conviction. Once you are clear on your big why for freelancing, who you are going to freelance for (clients and customers), and feel confident in charging top dollar for your talent and time, you need to keep conviction front and center in every decision you make thereafter.

Conviction is a cousin to endurance. You need to stand by your principles and keep the promise you’ve made to yourself to beat the odds and become an unstoppable freelancer.

Once you lose conviction your career will be shot to hell. You’ll find yourself doing any and everything to pay the bills. You’ll miss out on more money, become stressed out, and buy nine books on “how to become a successful freelancer”, when all along you just simply needed to remain convicted.

Technically, the mindset shifts of clarity, confidence, and conviction, are just scratching the surface as hacks for being an unstoppable freelancer. But these three are your foundation. Take ownership of these and you will build the right momentum for manifesting a business that excites you every day as a freelancer.

2.

Determine Your Freedom Number

One of the snags in the zag of new freelancers is goofing up their freedom number. Yours truly included, for the first couple of years of freelancing. I don’t want you to be one of us.

Your freedom number is the amount of money you need to make every year based on your hourly rate in order to have the life you desire and deserve.

For example, if I think it is going to take me 10 hours to create an email marketing funnel for a client and my base freedom number is $60 per hour, I'll actually invoice my client for $750 for the project. This covers my administration time and federal taxes. Plus, clients tend to like nice whole numbers upfront. They know what they are getting from you out the gate. The cherry on top is seeing plump lump sums of deposits into your bank account at once, kind of like getting a paycheck from a J-O-B.

Nailing your freedom number may be the most crucial step in this mini-game plan for becoming an unstoppable freelancer.

3.

Decide What Dude (or Dudette) To Cater To

Quick, who is the number one person that comes to mind who needs the goodies you’re selling? A clear client persona should have come to mind. Perhaps even someone you know IRL.

Having a niche isn’t necessarily a must but you do need to decide who you are going to cater to based on a client persona. You may be interested in becoming a freelance publicist that has an interest in representing beauty and fashion brands, which is cool and all, but landing on a client persona is an even better idea. Reframe this challenge by deciding if you are going to work with fun upbeat clients who are creative that are just launching their business or snuffy serious clients who never crack a smile but have been in business for over ten years.

And here’s a hint: if you would go an extra 100 miles for a brand because they are that damn dope, that serves as a clue that you will vibe with them. That type of client “is your person”.

Knowing your dude or dudette will also make manifesting them super easy. You will be an energetic match for each other. And that’s when the magic happens. So, trust your intuition.

4.

Write Up That Elevator Pitch

Now that you know who your dream client is, it’s time to write up an elevator pitch of what you do and who you do it for. I’ll use my old elevator pitch for an example:

“I’m a freelance direct marketing copywriter that helps fun high-vibe brands get more clicks, connections, and cash. Let’s hook up!”

It’s succinct, explains what I deliver on, and asks readers to take action.

Having an elevator pitch will serve as a way to reinforce keeping those three C’s, clarity, confidence, and conviction as a mainstay in your freelance biz.

5.

Create One Hot Signature Offer

I’ve gone on freelancer websites and saw 12 different offers on their SERVICES page.

What the heck! If I’m confused, imagine a potential client. You will never attract high-paying and cool beans clients if you are trying to offer every service under the sun that relates to your industry.

When starting out, do yourself a favor and create one hot signature offer that you can use in your marketing over and over again. Make sure it is priced very well with your freedom number baked into it. It is also essential that it is an offer that is in-demand and that you can complete fairly easily.

Freelancing comes with a unique set of challenges but a vital key in being unstoppable is to make your biz life as easy as possible. Having one hot offer is like the gas in your tank. You can have 10 cars but without gas, you’re going nowhere fast.

6.

Craft Three Fail-Safe Call-To-Actions

With your elevator pitch and one hot signature offer in hand, it’s time to craft three call-to-actions that your ideal clients won’t be able to resist. These CTA’s need to be in a consistent rotation on your social media captions, blog posts, emails, and articles on places like MEDIUM.

Your call-to-action needs to do just that, inspire action from your target client.

Specifically, your call-to-action should state their problem or challenge, share your offer, create a sense of urgency, and invite them to connect with you sooner than later. It’s an easy peasy formula when you break it down. Create three of them that you can use on a rolling basis based on your specific goals or offer. Having three in your tool kit will also keep your marketing messages fresh and unpredictable.

7.

Follow The Remora Fish Model

About eight years ago a friend asked me how I was able to have a consistent stream of work as a freelance copywriter without doing much marketing. I told her that I partner up with digital marketing agencies that need an “in-house” copywriter to create content for their clients without actually being their in-house copywriter.

With her usual deadpan she said, “Oh, you’re following the remora fish model”. Her summing it up that way was a lightbulb moment for me. That was exactly how I was running my business without being aware of it.

Remora fish are tiny fish that attach themselves to larger fish like sharks in order to eat the leftovers that the biggies can’t eat. Remora fish never have to hunt for their own food. Their supply chain is always right in front of them.

The remora fish model allows you to have steady work (i.e. cash flow) while taking on a variety of projects. The secretsauce is to partner with clients that you vibe with but to not rely on them for 100% of your income. Eat what big fish can’t and catch some fish on your own too.

You can also create marketing messages that you share on social media or even on your blog sharing your willingness to take this approach to your business as an emerging freelancer.

Use the remora model early and watch your freelance biz manifest immediate cash flow!

8.

Website Styled Up (a 3 Pager is all you need)

I’m going to keep it 100000 with you. In 2021 you don’t NEED your own website in order to be an unstoppable freelancer. And full stop: I have never had a website I was in love with as a freelancer. It was either the design I could never really get jazzed about or the features were either too overwhelming or too basic in order for me to pimp my site with pride.

The folks who shame you for not having a website are those prissy people who never leave the house without a fresh pair of socks on. They are perfectionists. And the only perfectionist who’s really a bawse is Beyonce Knowles Carter.

However, in saying that having your own website as a freelancer is a sweet added bonus for your overall brand and for SEO purposes if you insist on being a perfectionist.

What’s most important is having an online place where potential clients can find you and hire you.

Here are a few options:

  • A free landing page with an overview of your services on weebly or wix with a killer call-to-action all throughout the page
  • A dedicated community page where you share blog posts, services, and products for sale on buymeacoffee.com or ko-fi.com or gumroad.com (Patreon only seems worth it if you already have a sizeable following on social media before you launch your freelancing biz)
  • A couple of service offerings on fiverr.com that you send traffic to on social media
  • A YouTube channel where you share your skills or insights about your niche and leave your email in the description box for people to work with you

Taking advantage of one of those will take you far, especially as a new on the scene freelancer.

9.

Customer Relationship Management Magic

Well, well, we’ve finally come to the point in this program where we must talk about somewhat of a snoozefest subject. Good ole’ fashioned CRM for short. This part of running a freelance biz is not glamorous and can lead to massive procrastination for many of us.

However, it is an absolute must to master and when done right, will manifest straight up magic in your biz. It’s like buying a car with heated leather seats versus the cloth joints. Your buns on those chilly 22 degree mornings will thank you for it. And that’s what your clients will say too (well, not about their buns) when you roll out the red carpet and make customer relationship management a top priority in your biz.

Here’s some tea: a HUGE reason why some people don’t see the value in paying freelancers top dollar is because said freelancers look like amateurs when they engage with potential new clients. These bad apples drive our perceived value down as freelancers.

To cut above the fray you need to create a seamless and professional lead generation system, client connection experience, proposal submission, invoicing system, client onboarding, and project submission process in order to WOW them.

10.

Banking or Bust

“What a time to be alive (as a freelancer)”. I say that because banking has never been easier for freelancers as it is now. Gone are the days of having to get a vial of blood from your firstborn to serve as collateral for getting a business bank account.

Having a business bank account also helps you to feel more profesh as a freelancer.

When you feel like a million bucks, it’s easier to manifest a million bucks into your business banking account. Plus, having a business banking account dedicated to receiving your invoices will save you hours on bookkeeping come tax season.

Business banking will quickly remind you that being a freelancer is entrepreneurship 101.

These banks were either created with freelancers in mind or have easy peasy requirements for creating a business bank account:

Please note: the banks listed above don’t allow cash deposits at ATM machines.

11.

Get Social With It (use that elevator pitch in your social bio and c-t-a’s)

I’m old enough to remember Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy With It”, as I type, “Get Social With It” but I digress. Yes, social mediaaaaa! You’re going to have to use it in order to attract clients like clock-work.

I’ve told at least 99 other freelancers this: the fastest way to get clients for FREE is by sharing your services on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and maybe LinkedIn if your ideal client persona is a 52 year-old white man in Chicago, 2–4 times per week.

The secret to selling on social media is to use your elevator pitch and rotating call-to-actions at the end of your posts/captions. Begin your posts and captions by sharing a common problem that your potential clients have and the creative solution you provide as a freelancer. This is a simple formula that for some reason scares the beejeezus out of many freelancers. Instead of this paint by numbers selling technique, they don’t share their services at all, then complain about a lack of clients.

“Closed mouths don’t get fed” was uttered by a genius for a reason.

Remember the 80/20 rule when using social media to sell. 80% of what you share should be either fun, educational, or inspiring. You must add to a conversation, share news, share personal thoughts, ask questions, and quite simply, engage and entice your followers. This is where you truly train your followers to begin trusting you and looking forward to your posts.

The remaining 20% should be more of a direct sell with your elevator pitch and strong call-to-actions. This is where you lay it on thick and cut to the chase. Use the power of storytelling to catch their attention at first and then end with your ask for the sale.

Consistency is the key to gaining influence and getting more clicks, connections, and cash on social media. So feed those algorithms daily and fire up your feed with your secretsauce as an ambitious as hell freelancer.

12.

Run Them Ads (if you can)

I must admit. I’m about to cave and get in the Facebook Ads game in order to share my latest offerings as an entrepreneur. And if you’ve got some coins to spare then you may want to pour some of it into promoting your gifts as a freelancer too!

For the longest time I resisted giving the Zuck-ster my money in order to promote myself as an entrepreneur. But the cold hard reality is that many freelancers are making a straight up fortune in profit by running Facebook ads for their businesses. Plus, the algorithms make things very hard to be in our favor as creators organically. You’ve got to play to pay.

Yes, you should be doing the suggestions I mentioned previously on social media but as with everything, there are always short-cuts. Handsome hacks for becoming a fat cat, and generating clicks, connections, and cash, on the daily.

If you have a small following on social media then my dear Sweet Thang, you might want to put that Venti Caramel whatever-they-call-it at Starbucks down and take that $6.43 and put it on a Facebook ad to promote your video editing services for a “48 Hour Flash-Sale”.

To put it another way, running ads is ideal for you if:

  • You have a small following under 10,000 across your social media accounts
  • You have a large following but receive very little engagement
  • You are testing out a new service or product and need to see how people respond to it
  • You are now beginning to use social media to promote yourself as a freelancer
  • You are not comfortable “selling” yourself in real time on your social media posts

Bottom line is this: social media ads can catapult your business into levels of profitability that it may not get on its own, all because you invested in your brand and decided to play chess, not checkers!

13.

Inbound Marketing Is In

This is technically also a freebie hack for building your biz as a freelancer that can be just as effective as posting on social media on a consistent basis, if not better.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of inbound marketing, here’s the dirty sexy run down:

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy where you create content that is designed to attract leads to your brand, services, and products.

Before the explosion of social media a juggernaut of a way that people did inbound marketing was by blogging (think 2004–2010 vibes). Now, YouTube and Pinterest can also be a part of your inbound marketing mix because those are search engines just as much as Google is depending on your target audience.

However, I still say blogging is one of the best routes to take for inbound marketing when you are building your brand as a freelancer. Blogging can live on the interwebs for infinity as long as a link is working. Google loves blogs that are rich with SEO (search engine optimization) and evergreen content, therefore making them the ideal place to publish content that has links to your one hot signature offer and products for sale.

If you’re not jazzed about blogging then other examples of inbound marketing include; webinars, running contests, creating free short ebooks, and targeted email marketing campaigns.

For me personally, to my surprise, a lovely inbound marketing strategy has been getting articles published on medium.com. I’ve landed copywriting clients that found my articles on Medium. I always end my articles with a clever call-to-action. I have a few that I keep in rotation, sorta like tip #6 in this guide here, and plug them in at the conclusion of my pieces.

This has been an easy way to keep my services floating out on the internet and I couldn’t be more over the moon about it working as an inbound marketing strategy.

14.

Get The Money Honey

Let’s talk about money. Yes, as a freelancer you deserve lots of it and should have it floating to you on a daily basis, passively and actively.

How do you feel about money, really and truly? If you feel fully in your worth to receive it as a freelancer that uses your gifts to earn money then you need an airtight plan in place for receiving your money.

If you don’t feel confident about charging what you’re worth then subconsciously you will goof up and not put effective systems in place that allow you to receive money for your time and talent.

To avoid becoming a burnt out freelancer, please avoid; working for free/exposure, working for low-ball rates, working with difficult clients, working all hours of the day and night, working under stressful conditions, and not instituting a hard set payment policy that’s non-negotiable.

Hold your ground, stay in your power, and make this MF MONEY (word up!).

15.

Give Em’ Something Extra

Want to have clients eating out of the palm of YOUR hands? Add a lil sumthin’ sumthin’ to their overall experience with you. Exceed their expectations out the gate and they will put you on a pedestal kind of like men who love bitches (sorry to break it to you, nice girls finish last).

Need some ideas for knocking their socks off?

  • If they hired you to design their new e-commerce website, add in one customized and branded email marketing template
  • If they hired you to write their landing page for their new coaching program add in three social media captions that they can use for lead generation
  • If they hired you to shoot their wedding, come an hour early and shoot additional behind-the-scenes footage of the venue or add in more drone shots than originally agreed upon
  • If they hired you to be the DJ for their wife’s birthday party, ask the husband for his wife’s favorite songs and play them right when she’s on her third margarita
  • If they hired you to be their new personal chef, add in a meal plan they can stick to for their upcoming vacation

No matter which route you take, you simply can’t go wrong giving your clients an unexpected freebie or small gift. It’s a win-win strategy for becoming and staying in-demand and well-paid as a freelancer.

16.

Diversify Like Beyonce

By now I’m sure it’s obvious that I am a complete STAN for Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Those Virgo Priestess vibes are consistently kickin’ in strong with her astonishing work ethic, business deals on business deals, marriage to an in-the-flesh rap legend turned tycoon, and Goddess bod after three babies. On top of that, her commitment to protecting her energy and keeping an airtight private life is nothing short of envy-inducing.

And this is because Beyonce has diversified since day one when she was the Queen B of Destiny’s Child, mama Tina made sure her daughters were getting checks on checks on checks.

When you are first launching your freelancing biz in this digital age it is absolutely imperative that you create at least three different streams of income from day one. If you don’t there will come a day when your ONE income stream dries up like the Mojave Desert in July.

Beyonce would still be richer than all of us combined if she only relied on album sales.

But by diversifying her portfolio she is richer than all of us combined and our parents and their parents too.

You betta’ get your slices of five pies versus just one whole pie, or else…

Let’s Wrap This Bad Girl Up

If you STOP before you START then two things will unfold: you would have wasted time reading this article (time you can never get back) and you’ll never discover what you’re truly made of as a talented cutie.

Freelancing is not for the weak but it is incredibly easy to launch a biz and begin getting paid for your gifts.

The secret for making six-figures or more (or whatever is a “freedom number” for you) as a freelancer is drum roll please…

Being UNSTOPPABLE.

I’m sure you guessed that one :-)

The world is waiting on you to bust out of your comfort zone, step into confidence, clarity, and connection, grab a game plan (this one, duh), and work the plan. There are literally a million ways to crush it as a talented freelancer in this digital world that we are living in. And it’s only going to get more intense and competitive. The time to act is NOW my future freelancing BFF.

Where will you be a year from now?

Will you still be bitching about Freddy, your creepy boss?

Will you still be scrolling Instagram envying freelancing nomads in Tulum?

Will you still be counting on a Baby Daddy to make ends meet?

Will you still be scared shitless from posting an ad on Facebook to promote yourself?

Will you still be using “hope” as a strategy for a financial turn-around?

There is so much success you can manifest if you kill all of the above as possibilities for your life in just one blazing fast year.

Being UNSTOPPABLE doesn’t mean that freelancing is inherently difficult, but it does take work. These 16 steps will make your journey much smoother if you execute with wild abandon.

Are you going to stop playing checkers and start playing chess and launch your freelancing biz this summer or be stuck in the same place you are right now?

Cholia “CJ” Johnson is freelancing for a living. If you would love a more in-depth take on these 16 steps then feel free to check out her new ebook, BECOME AN UNSTOPPABLE FREELANCER IN 16 STEPS, for the price of a creme brulee latte. You can connect with her on Twitter. Oh, her website TOO!

Freelancing for Life. Culture Journalist & Self-Care Activist! @zora & more. Download BECOME AN UNSTOPPABLE FREELANCER https://gum.co/unstoppablefreelancerguide

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