I’m an average Asian.
I stress the words “average” and “Asian” because I thought being a successful freelancer is for wealthy or extraordinary Caucasians.
Of course that’s not true.
I’ve proven it to myself by going after what I had envisioned and keeping up the momentum.
Now, I can proudly say that being a freelance writer based in Malaysia is my full-time job.
How did I get started?
At the start of 2019, I wrote down one major goal:
To become a full-time freelance writer
And that set the tone for the year and got the ball rolling.
It’s true what they say about manifestation. Once you’ve got it out of your head and written it down, you’ll start doing work that’s geared towards that vision.
You have no choice but to embody it and make it happen.
In my case, I gave myself about 6 months to:
- improve my copywriting skills
- build my portfolio
- find potential clients
I was working a 9–5 at an agency at that time, so checking off the first two on the list was relatively easy.
The difficulty was deciding what niche service I should give and what kind of clients I should approach.
It turns out that I didn’t have to think so hard.
The client was right in front of me i.e. my employer at that time.
When I plucked up the courage to resign, I also stated my request to continue working with them, but as a freelancer. This would mean the same workflow but without me in the office and getting any of the company’s benefits.
I suppose this scheme was beneficial to them, too, and so my ex-company became my first recurring client.
This lasted only a short 3 months when they managed to hire a new in-house copywriter (and by the way, I was the only one in the company for a year).
I expected this.
So when they gave me their month’s notice, as stated in our contract, I began to rigorously search for more clients.
Finding a new client
I took the advice of many copywriters and decided to find a client based on my chosen niche.
That narrowed things down.
Once I got my portfolio edited towards that niche, I searched for clients on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Basically, wherever I could.
And then, I sent out cold emails.
Some of them replied but most did not.
I even managed to get a one-off client via LinkedIn thanks to my optimized LinkedIn profile.
But I was looking for a more long-term client. That’s one of the few ways that I could sustain myself.
One day, as I was flipping through Instagram Stories, I came across a job ad for a Content Writer. It stated that they were open to hiring freelancers and so I applied.
We had a couple of interviews and naturally, they asked about my expected fee.
Knowing how clients would always ask for a lower price, I aimed higher.
But all along, I was targeting for RM 4,000 (~$1,000).
Sure enough, by the fourth month of my freelancing full-time, I got what I wanted.
Know your worth and ask for it
What have I learnt from my experience?
These are the important points that may help you too:
- Find out what and how much you can give.
- Search for the baseline pay for a freelancer in your industry.
- Figure out if you’re worth more or less based on the quality and quantity of service you can give.
- Identify the type of clients who can pay you what you’re worth.
- Ask for it.
If you’re going to work full-time as a freelancer, you have to take yourself seriously.
I know it’s easy to doubt yourself and feel like an imposter.
Believe me, I’ve been through that.
But if it means a lot to you and if you really want to have control over your work life, you have to focus on your strengths and what you can give.
At the end of the day, your skills and dedication are all that a client needs.
And if you live up to their expectation, if you work hard and consistently, you would have proven your worth.
The more you do this, the better you will be, and the higher the payment that you can ask for.
Know your worth.
First published on Medium.