Freelance Business Ideas To Get You On Your Feet

Saturday, September 22, 2018

I get a lot of questions from folks about how exactly I went from a career as a corporate attorney with a cushy window office and a 401K to one as a successful freelance writer (and how I did it without ever being homeless or couch-surfing between my friends’ apartments). Well, if you’ve ever wondered how it’s truly done, then you’re in luck! Because I am going to share some of my freelance business ideas to get you on your feet and start your own freelance business. 

Figure Out Why You Want to Become a Freelancer in the First Place

Figuring out why you want to freelance is the real first step. Do you want more freedom? Do you want to travel the world and learn about other cultures? The reasons are endless; it's up to you to find your reason!
Figuring out why you want to freelance is the real first step. Do you want more freedom? Do you want to travel the world and learn about other cultures? The reasons are endless; it's up to you to find your reason!

This is one of the freelance business ideas that a lot of people in the sales and marketing world throw around, but I have to admit…they might be onto something: find your “why.” 

No, I’m not talking about your desire to make piles of cash and live out the rest of your life on a private island like Richard Branson. I mean the real reason deep down in your heart that wants to pursue this somewhat crazy and definitely unconventional way to earn a living. 

Read more: How I Quit My Full-Time Job

For me, my “why” was pretty simple: I no longer wanted to live my life as a stressed-out, anxious, over-worked lunatic. I absolutely wanted to spend more time with my family. 

I wanted to travel. I wanted to stop having panic attacks every day. I wanted to be more confident. I wanted to make money doing something that helped make the world a better place (as opposed to spending 60 hours per week defending corporations in insurance disputes). 

For me, my “why” truly came down to a single feeling: peace. 

I know, I know…you’re probably rolling your eyes at me as you read this. Before you write me off as some hippie with new age advice, hear me out. 

As dumb as it may sound, my “why” has pulled me out of some pretty deep emotional holes of self-doubt and lack of motivation over the past couple of years. 

It’s easy to go all-in at the beginning when things are new and exciting, but what about when you’ve hit a wall in your new business? What about those days that you just don’t want to work for that client or write that article? What then?

Having a true, emotional attachment to your work is critical in this business. It just is. Fact is, working for yourself and being solely responsible for keeping the lights turned on isn’t always the glamorous reality we freelancers like to make it out to be. 

It’s tough sometimes. It’s a learning curve. And in those moments when everything seems useless, and you’re ready to ask for your old job back, having a little reminder about what brought you to this work in the first place is more valuable to your business than anything else.

Find Your Niche

Find a niche and stick to it. Trust me, it's a healthy long-term decision in the freelance business!
Find a niche and stick to it. Trust me, it's a healthy long-term decision in the freelance business!

We live in an age when everyone is connected and, for good, bad or indifferent, lots of people are trying to do whatever seemingly innovative thing you’re trying to do. 

One of the freelance business ideas that I ever received when I decided to become a writer was to find my niche and my voice and stick to it no matter what. For me, that niche came about as my alter ego, The Yogi Lawyer. 

Read more: Finding Your New Normal When Working Remotely

For you, it might a blog dedicated to delicious Keto recipes or the pitfalls of dating abroad or a something to do with your cat; I don’t know. 

Whatever that “it” is though, find it. Explore it. And stick to it. Put on a proverbial set of blinders and keep on chuggin’ along, doing what you’re doing without a care in the world about whatever all the other bloggers, freelance writers, designers, and techies are doing. 

Trust me, time spent worrying about other people will only hold you (and your freelance career) back. 

Set Realistic Goals (and know when it’s time to set new ones!)

Set realistic and achievable goals to grow your freelance business.
Set realistic and achievable goals to grow your freelance business.

This is a biggie: set goals. In the beginning, it is vital that your goals are achievable. Yes, your overarching “why” might be something bigger but, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. When I first started out, some of my first goals were:

  • Set up my Upwork profile
  • Find my first writing client
  • Complete my first writing contract
  • Design my blog
  • Write my first blog article

See how attainable those goals are? They are tied to concrete actions that lead to real, tangible results. Then, as those goals started getting checked off, I grew towards slightly larger ones:

  • Land one hourly client
  • Make enough money to pay for a fun weekend getaway
  • Get 500 followers on Instagram
  • Get 500 people to follow my blog

These goals lead me to my full-time career as a writer, and I stayed in that world for a long time. The more that I learned about this business, the more I was able to use my lawyer brain to find, land, and keep clients that filled up my weekly agenda until I was nearly as busy as I was as an attorney. 

But then, one day, I came back to my initial “why.” Was I happy ghostwriting for other people’s companies and brands instead of my own? Was I content that my stories and perspectives were no longer tied to my name? Was this really what I wanted to do with the rest of my life? All of the freelance business ideas from before came into my mind.

You guessed it, the answer was always a resounding “no.” And that’s when I set a new batch of goals, all of which are a little closer to my “why”:

  • Finish my book proposal
  • Grow my network and community
  • Land a book deal
  • Only contribute to publications that credit me as an author

That’s what I’m working towards right now and, if the past is any indicator of things to come, I’m sure there will come a time when all of those goals need to be replaced with even bigger ones. 

My point is that you need to work with wherever you are right here, right now. If you’re just starting out, your goals will be small and easily attainable to give you a bit of confidence. This is one of the freelance business ideas on which you have to stick to if you want to establish yourself as a freelancer.

If you’re a seasoned pro, it’s time to leave your comfort zone and go for it. 


Wherever you are, set goals, write them down in a place where you’ll see them every day, and keep working towards every little milestone along the way! These freelance business ideas are just building blocks on what's about to come, once you start freelancing. 

Elizabeth Murray freelance content writer at aSabbatical.com
Traveling is about expanding your mindset and challenging every custom, tradition, and way of life you thought you knew.