The freelance economy is booming and there are a lot of great opportunities, especially if you get good at promoting yourself and building a digital portfolio.

What I like best about freelancing is it’s an easy and inexpensive thing to get into and it works great as a side hustle while you are still in school, or to save extra money while working a full-time job.

In many cases you don’t have to have a University degree to get well-paid freelancing work since freelancers are hired much more for their personal brand and digital portfolio than their resume or credentials.

Given that you will probably be freelancing in one way or another throughout your career, you might as well start building your personal brand and differentiating yourself now in the highly-competitive market for premium freelance work.

The Data On The Emerging Freelance Economy:

The data shows that freelancing is increasingly becoming the path Millennials follow to get work experience and “create” their own jobs:

1. Nearly 50% of millennial workers are already freelancing (Upwork)

2. 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2020 (Nasdaq).

3. 61% of freelancers specialize in 2 to 3 talents (Slash Workers).

4. 82% of remote workers reported lower stress levels and higher morale (PGI).

5. Artificial intelligence, growth hacking, machine learning, Instagram marketing, iOS/Android development and brand strategy are the freelance skills in highest demand in 2019 (Indeed).

6. 63% of freelancers in the U.S. say they prefer their work-from-home career over a traditional job (Upwork/Freelancers Union)

7. Most freelancers believe their career is more stable and they have more leverage than a traditional day job because they have a diversified portfolio of clients rather than a job with one employer. (UpWork/Freelancers Union)

If you’re ready to create your own job as a well-paid freelancer then I’m doing going to show you the necessary steps to making it happen!

How To Create Your Own Job:

The foundation of long-term success as a freelancer is building a distinctive personal brand.

This means you need a clear and concise story of who you are, the value of the expertise you offer to other and what makes you different from everyone else with a similar freelance skillset.

Google is the new background check so keep in mind that hiring managers and business owners hiring for a high-paying freelance gig are guaranteed to research you extensively by Googling your name.

This means you need to cultivate a personal brand with a professional-looking website and a digital portfolio that demonstrates your work experience and how you get results for the people you work with.

This is how you avoid becoming a commodity in a freelance work marketplace like Upwork. Even if you build a portfolio within these marketplaces, you will still need a professional-looking website to showcase your freelance work.

Here are 10 of my best tips for becoming a well-paid freelancer online:

1. Define Your Personal Brand and Name Your Business

The first thing you’re going to need is a business name. If you’re the one doing the work, it’s probably a good idea to brand yourself and use your own name.

Once you’ve defined your brand name, you should register it as a domain, ideally using some combination of words that ends .com or .me.

2. Brand Yourself With Your Own Personal Website

Next, you’re going to need a professional-looking website that clearly tells the story of who you are, what you offer and why you are different.

You can be up and running in under 2 hours with a website using an inexpensive WordPress host and a professional-looking theme template. I detail how to do this in my 5-part free video training and this personal branding guide on building your personal brand and digital portfolio.

3. Build A Digital Portfolio That Demonstrates Your Work

Once your website is online, you should start building a digital portfolio that includes case studies that demonstrate the results you’ve achieved for your clients in the form of this 3-part structure:

1. Problem: The business challenge encountered.
2. Solution: The strategy and tactics you devised and implemented.
3. Results: The quantifiable results with metrics for what you achieved.

If you don’t have any freelance clients yet, you might have to offer your services at a discount initially to get more experience. Your digital portfolio is crucial for becoming a well-paid freelancer.

4. Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile For Search

It’s also very important that you have an active presence on LinkedIn and a highly-optimized LinkedIn profile so recruiters and hiring managers actively looking for freelancers can find you in the search results.

Also, your LinkedIn Profile is a good opportunity to mention the organizations you are a part of, your volunteer experience and also to provide references from your clients and previous managers directly on your profile.

5. Build Your Own Following On Social Media

There’s a huge of amount of opportunities that can be gained from building a professional social media presence on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Use your personal profile and also create a separate business page to share your expertise and build a relationship by engaging with an online audience that can benefit from your skills and expertise.

6. Get More Experience Fast Using Online Freelancing Marketplaces

If you don’t have a lot of experience, you can start building your skills and expertise by bidding low on freelance gigs in a freelancer marketplace like Upwork.

These freelance marketplaces provide a good place to find your initial jobs to earn references from and build up your digital portfolio.

7. Get An Online Payments Account And A Financial Management Tool

If you’re not going to use freelance marketplaces, you can take payments in a professional way from your clients through Paypal or Stripe.

They charge a 2.9% fee on the amount paid plus $0.30 on each transaction. To manage your finances, issue invoices and measure your monthly cashflow the tool use is QuickBooks or And.co (affiliate link).

8. Use Time Tracking Software To Manage Your Freelancing Gigs and Billable Hours

To maximize your income as a freelancers selling your time by the hour, you need to focus on tracking and increasing your billable hours each week.

To create your own job as a well-paid freelancers (rather than a poorly paid or completely broke freelancer, which is more common than you think), you should issue invoices with a detailed cost breakdown of exactly how your clients money was spent to avoid any confusion.

9. Always Sign Legally-Binding Digital Contracts With Your Clients

If you aren’t working through a freelancing website like Upwork, which provides freelance contracts, you should always sign a legally-binding digital contract.

Contract law can be difficult to enforce across borders but it’s very important that you get in writing exactly what you will do for your client and how much you will get paid in return. I recommend using a digital contract service like Shake or HelloSign.

10. Consider Incorporating Your New Freelance Business To Save In Taxes

Many developed countries provide significant tax incentives to encourage freelancers and small businesses to grow their business and better weather downturns.

In some jurisdictions, you can take advantage of lower tax rates offered to small business owners and freelance workers. It generally costs $300-$500 to form a limited liability corporation (I cover how to do it in my guide to location independent business).

Create Your Own Job By Freelancing:

Strike while the iron’s hot and skip the expensive lawyer fees by incorporating your freelance business today.

You can do it quickly and easily with inexpensive legal service such as LegalZoom or take advantage of Stripe Atlas to incorporate your own startup.

If you follow these 10 tips for becoming a well-paid freelancers then, well, you’ll join the ranks of successful freelancers who are creating their own schedules and working from anywhere they choose.

Instead of looking for a job like most people do, you can be more creative and proactive by developing future-proof skills. This way you can actively position yourself in the marketplace to earn a premium for your skills and talents.