How To Start Freelancing in South Africa And Make Money

How To Start Freelancing in South Africa And Make Money

Freelancing is a popular career choice for many people. It allows you to work at a flexible time and place. Freelancers are usually self-employed, meaning they don’t have an employer. 

They might also be employees of a company but not full-time. Freelancers work on their terms, without the typical constraints of an office job or 9-to-5 schedule. 

The most common type of freelancer is the independent contractor who works for multiple clients or companies on different projects over time. 

Freelancing can also be done as part of a group project with other freelancers, such as in the case of creative collaborations or co-working spaces like WeWork and CoSchedule’s Coworker Collective. 

Those who work from home are typically self-employed or freelancers.

How To Start Freelancing in South Africa as a Beginner

Freelancing as a beginner can be difficult, but it is definitely worth the effort. You will be able to gain experience and showcase your skills without the pressures of a full-time job.

The first thing you need to do before starting freelancing is decide what type of freelancer you want to become.

Do you want to focus on writing or design?

Are you interested in working remotely or locally?

Once you have decided on what type of freelancer you want to become, it’s time for step two: finding clients and projects that suit your niche.

Step 1: Get The Right Equipment

Straight up: The quick answer is that there are no good tasks you can complete with a smartphone. At least not ones that would be worth your time to complete.

If you are going to start freelancing, it’s important that you have the right equipment. You need a laptop, a smartphone, and an internet connection.

The most important thing is the laptop. You need one powerful enough for graphic design, web design, and development work. But also one that has enough battery life to work on it outside your home office.

If you are going to be doing photography or video editing, you need a camera too. And if you don’t already have one, get a tripod to keep your shots steady when you’re filming or shooting pictures.

While freelancing may not be a get-rich-quick scheme and does not promise to make you rich, it can be effective for certain individuals with the perseverance and determination to succeed in the field.

Step 2: Find A Marketable Skill

The next, and most important step to start freelancing is to find a skill you can offer as a service. You need to find something that people are willing to pay for.

One of the most important skills you can offer as a service is copywriting. It’s not just about writing articles or blog posts; it’s about writing content to help your audience connect with your brand and grow your business.

Here are a few other skills you can offer as a freelance copywriter:

  • SEO copywriting
  • Social media management
  • Web design and development services
  • Even video production for your YouTube channel!
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Step 3: Define your target clients

Once you’ve identified your skills and what will be most profitable and enjoyable, it’s time to consider who will pay you for them.

To make sure that you are targeting the right people, it’s important to identify your target client. It can be a specific audience, industry, or company.

It is important to know your target clients to develop a strategy that will resonate with them and get them interested in what you offer.

A target client is an ideal customer or user of a product. It is the person you want to attract and convert into a customer. Target clients are usually in the market for a specific product or service, so it is important to know who they are and what they need.

The key to defining your target client is understanding their needs, motivations, and problems. You can do this by talking with them directly or conducting market research.

This will help you write proposals that are more relevant and appealing to your target clients, as well as improve response rates.

Step 4: Build Your Reputation

Having the right skills and proving that you can accomplish your work will determine whether or not you’re a successful freelancer.

Employers are always looking for individuals who have a lot of experience, especially when it comes to writing skills. You may never find work if you cannot prove that you’re skilled at what you do through your portfolio or by validating your skills on a job posting.

How do you build a reputation as a freelancer?

Good question.

Get your work out there.

If you are a writer, you should consider getting your articles published on popular blogs. If you are a graphic designer, you should be able to point to a brand that can attest to your skills.

The same applies to a web designer; send a link to a website you’ve designed.

The primary objective is to eventually build enough of a reputation in the industry that you can get paid writing opportunities.

There are a few different ways to do this, starting with getting your work out there. Consider doing free work first, reach out to blogs that accept guest posts, and do some concept design work.

Step 5: Create A Portfolio

When establishing yourself as a credible individual, it is important to have all your published work and live projects in one place. This should include both works that have been published and work that you have completed for various companies.

A freelance portfolio is a collection of an individual’s work over the course of their career. It is typically used to show potential employers that you are qualified to be hired for a certain position.

Freelance portfolios can be created in different ways, but having one is important to land your dream job. Whether you’re looking for a writing or a design job, having a portfolio will help you stand out from the competition.

For example, if you are a graphic designer, you would create a portfolio page on the Behance website. This would allow you to show off your designs in an elegant and highly-curated way that is easily accessible to potential clients.

Step 6: Find The Right Freelance Platform

This step on how to start freelancing in South Africa is crucial for how easily you’ll land jobs and the quality of the clients you’ll be able to work with.

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Most beginning freelancers make the mistake of looking for popular freelance marketplaces and joining to get started. Like UpWork, or

For your information, these marketplaces are already awash, with millions of freelancers looking for work online. And due to stiff competition, you will end up engaging in bidding wars to win gigs.

Ultimately, you will constantly be lowering your prices to land a job finally. This is not the right way to find work as a freelancer.

The best thing you can do when looking for freelance work is to find a fairly new marketplace with minimal competition, allowing you to build a portfolio quickly. 

It will be important to choose a marketplace where freelancers are still learning the ins and outs to not compete with seasoned professionals.

Step 7: Charge The Right Price

After you have found the platform that suits your needs, it’s time to set your price. The goal is to maximize the amount you make without losing potential jobs. 

So, start by looking at competitors in the market. What are they charging for similar freelancing services?

There are four common pricing methods for a freelance business:

  • Hourly: A set hourly rate for each hour worked for the client. The freelancer will track their hours and be paid per each completed minute from the client. It is used for ongoing and short-term projects but requires a more thorough estimation process.
  • Retainer: A flat monthly fee. The retainer is typically used for ongoing projects and is charged based on an hourly rate and hours predicted to be spent monthly.
  • Fixed project fee: A fixed project fee is a type of fee that is automatically charged for any project that takes more than a certain amount of time. Instead of charging hourly rates, fixed project fees are primarily used for short-term projects or high importance.
  • Value-based pricing fee: A value-based project fee is a type of commission often charged to service providers for a fixed amount of time. Unlike a fixed project fee, this model is based on the value of the work that is completed during the agreed-upon period. It has the highest potential upside, but it’s harder to sell to clients since they may not understand or feel comfortable with it.

Here are some tips for setting the right prices:

Choose a number that:

  • Makes you excited to get up and do the work
  • Isn’t trying to compete on being the lowest price
  • Is still competitive with market rates

Step 8: Send Your First Proposal

When you find a project you’re confident you can provide excellent service for, it’s time to submit a proposal. This is the point where you prepare your proposal, which should begin by outlining the details of your expertise.

A freelance proposal is a document freelancers use to sell their services to potential employers. It usually includes a brief introduction about the freelancer, their qualifications, and any relevant experience they have.

A freelance proposal is the first step in landing a new job or project. Freelance proposals are often sent by email and can be short or long, depending on the type of work you’re applying for.

Freelance proposals differ from cover letters because they have more information about your skill set and experience as a freelancer. They also typically include links to any relevant portfolio content you have previously created.

To ensure that your first project will be successful, it’s important to match it with your work experience and capabilities. So, make sure you’re picking a feasible project for you as a freelancer.

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Step 9: Deliver Beyond Expectations

Once you land a job, the next step is ensuring you deliver the project within their expectations. In fact, you should overdeliver by going above and beyond the client’s expectations.

For example;

In my early freelance career, I typically got jobs for writing blog articles with a fixed word count of 1000 words. I wrote the article to be about 1100-1200 and included a unique header image for the blog post when delivering it. Without charging extra for it.

The result?

Clients were often extremely satisfied with my work and gave 5-star ratings to me almost consistently.

How Does Freelancing Affect Your Personal Life?

Freelancers in South Africa can now work on their terms and be free to choose their projects. They can work from anywhere, with any device, and be as productive or unproductive as they want.

Freelancing has many benefits, but it also comes with its challenges. If you are looking for a job that offers greater flexibility and a better work-life balance, freelancing might be the right choice.

What are the Top Features of The Best Freelance Websites That You Should Check Out

Freelance websites are the best place to find a job as a freelancer. There are many different features that these websites have to offer, but here are some of the top features that you should check out:

  • Freelance website search: You can use these websites to search for jobs in your desired field and location.
  • Job posting system: These websites have their own job posting system where you can post your resume and get hired by companies worldwide.
  • Job listing aggregation: These websites aggregate multiple job listings from different platforms into one list, making it easier for users to find new jobs on freelance sites.
  • Social media integration: Some of these sites integrate with social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn so that people can share their experiences with employers or employers can find new candidates.
  • Job-matching system: These websites have their own custom job matching system where they match you with the best jobs on their website based on certain criteria that you provide them.
  • Job-specific features: Some of these websites have features that help make your job search easier, like video profiles, interviews, and job fairs. Online job boards can be classified by the number of job postings, their subscription options, and the types of jobs they list.
  • Number of listings: Some online job boards have a high number of listings while others may have only a few hundred or less.
  • Payment methods: Some online job boards are free while being paid.

Read also: How to Pay Tax as a Freelancer in South Africa

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What Are The Pros And Cons Of Freelancing?

Freelancing is not just a job; it’s a lifestyle. It can be a fulfilling and rewarding career to work on your own terms. However, freelance work can also come with its fair share of challenges.

Pros: There are many benefits of freelancing in South Africa, as it allows you to choose your hours, work from anywhere and be your boss. You also can make money on your terms without having to answer to anyone else.

Cons: Freelancing can also come with its fair share of challenges such as balancing multiple clients, being unable to take time off for personal reasons, and having no job security.


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About the author

Kevin is a location independent freelancer, blogger, and side hustler located in South Africa. Originally from Kenya, he worked as a digital marketing developer for 5 years before making the leap to full-time freelancing.

Kevin has been featured in publications like Entrepreneur Magazine and The South African for his work promoting freelancing and side hustles in South Africa. When he's not working with clients or updating Freelancian, you can find him exploring new destinations as a digital nomad.

Want to share your own freelancing or side hustle story? Have a question for Kevin? Just want to say hello? You can contact Kevin and the Freelancian team at:

Email: [email protected]
X: @freelancian

1 comment

  1. Hey Name is Zama S Ncongwana, I am from South Africa. I am looking for assistance to Freelancer Id Card. Can anyone please assist me. Thank You!

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