4 Easy Steps to Become a Freelancer in South Africa 

With discipline and a little bit of luck, you will get hired in no time.

Are you seeking a little more freedom and want to escape the cliché traditional nine to five job and become a full-time freelancer?  Or just want to earn an extra income from a side hustle?

Freelancing is also a great opportunity for students to earn money and gain some experience while studying.  If you live in South Africa and you are considering freelancing – here is an easy guide to becoming a successful freelancer.

1. Identity your talents and passion

More people are already working from home due to the past Covid-19 Pandemic, if you are one of those people you are already a step ahead.

Freelancing will be a breeze and it’s much more flexible than your current work hours.

If you have a 9 to 5 job but realize you’re not really living out your passion or utilizing your talents, draw up a list of the top 5 things you like in life.

Identify what of those 5 things you can use or do to earn money. Most popular freelance jobs include:

  • Article/Blog Writing
  • Marketing
  • Virtual Assistance
  • Content creator
  • Video editor
  • Graphic designer/web developer
  • Tutoring
  • Copywriter

If you want to improve some of your skills or learn a new skill you can always take online courses for free. Investing your time to gain knowledge is the best investment you can make because no one can take it away from you.

The internet is full of opportunities and with a little bit of discipline, you can become qualified for any of the freelancing jobs out there. 

Moreover, if you feel you have reached a career plateau, freelancing is a great opportunity for you to become more diverse and develop and grow as a well-rounded individual.

2. Create your profile and CV

It is pretty easy to apply for a job using freelance platforms.  On a freelance platform such as Upwork, you will be required to create a profile and verify your identity. 

Here are some tips for creating an appealing and impressive profile:

  • Choose a nice photo for your profile picture
  • Be sure to make your availability known (e.g. 10-30 hours/week)
  • Write a concise but compelling introduction
  • Be authentic and realistic
  • Don’t write a lengthy story, keep it short and sweet
  • Highlight your experience (If you have no prior work experience: We recommend checking out our guide on How to become a freelancer in South Africa without Experience)
  • Emphasize your skills by listing them
  • Use bullet points
  • Specify if you’re willing to learn and improve (Business owners like that)
  • Create a profile on LinkedIn and add the link to your freelance profile
  • Make sure to verify yourself, it will allow you to rank higher
  • Optimize your LinkedIn and Freelance Platform

Most people that want to hire you as a freelancer will not require you to provide your CV or resume, however, it is wise to create one and keep it updated in case someone asks for it. 

We recommend Canva to create your CV, it’s free and you can also find templates on there. As a freelancer, you also have to be willing and comfortable with face to face zoom meetings.

Be sure to include the following in your CV

  • Important: On top comes your full name and surname
  • Professional photo of yourself
  • List of hard and soft skills
  • Contact information such as email address and contact number 
  • Any experience, education or online certificate obtained
  • Add a reference contact detail (not family or friends but people that you have worked with directly.

Tip: Keep it honest, relevant and updated

3. Research and select the best platform for you

Depending on the type of freelancer you aspire to become will determine what platform will be best for you.Upwork is the most diverse and the most popular one. There are many platforms to choose from.

Here are the best freelance platforms for freelancers in South Africa:

When creating your profile on any of the selected platforms be sure to add the relevant tags to it. This will also allow you to rank higher and keep your feed relevant.

4. Bid, propose, wait… And get hired!

On platforms like Fiverr and Freelancer.com, you bid on a job offer. More often the best bid gets the job. I landed my first job within a week on Fiverr following these steps but it also takes luck and I do consider myself lucky.

But winning that lottery will also depend on your ranking, ratings, reviews and referrals. Best to build a network as soon as possible, get in touch with like-minded people on Quora and Reddit or build connections with people on LinkedIn.

On Upwork, you will be asked to submit a cover letter or proposal and sometimes your CV as well. Hope for the best but don’t expect to get a job right away. Keep yourself online and check for buyer’s request every day.

The key is to be patient, don’t give up. For instance, landing my second major job, took me four months since creating my profile online. But before that, I had to be willing to work hard and build up a good reputation overtime.

You may have to be willing to be overworked and underpaid for the first few jobs. 

On top of that, I have been ghosted many times by employers and had to complete tasks without payment. But don’t let that demotivate you.

Through it all, you learn a lot. If you follow these four simple steps to become a freelancer and build your personal brand, expanding your network, you will sooner rather than later get hired!

Tips: First make a steady income from freelancing before deciding to leave your job. Also, post or share your freelance profile on social media to promote yourself. 

Final thoughts

Just follow these “4 easy steps to become a freelancer” And with discipline and a little bit of luck, you will get hired in no time. It’s trial and error – I’ve had to go through 10 interviews and countless negotiations with buyers to get work.Bbut in the end, it was all worth it.

So never give up! Good luck with your journey and happy freelancing!

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