Hey bosses, it’s Joseph. I’m an ex-corporate boy and founder of Rubelli Digital, an agency that specializes in helping coaches, creators, and entrepreneurs to scale their business through content marketing, social media, and storytelling.

In today’s article, I will share with you the 4 key steps of how to start working as a freelancer.

If you are someone in a corporate job right now, the idea of going out there and making it happen on your own is as exciting as it is scary. Leaving your steady income can be really unsettling which is why you want to ensure you start this process gradually.

When it comes to freelancing there is a miss conception that means working whenever you want or when you feel like it, and although freedom could be the reason why someone gets into this new world that doesn’t quite come straight away.

Freelancing freedom (let’s call it this way) comes from a certain work structure and certain steps to do that can really help you to work less and get more.

What are these steps?

Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Connect with everyone you know


I always kept a great relationship with my previous employers and my goal was to convert them into my clients to ensure I was keeping a steady income to cover my expenses. lots of people focus always on looking for new people when actually there is a huge benefit on nurturing the list that you already have.

Obviously not every month was a Christmas month but what I did was try to turn every offer into an opportunity and even if some jobs might have not been paid I still could get something out of it such as:

  • Gain experience
  • New contacts always great for relationship building
  • References that I could use to build a case study about my offer

A great tip is to think ahead start spread the word through friends, ex-colleagues, etc at least 30 days before you quit your job so you can get people thinking about it and consider you for work. I remember quitting my job in the summer and during my notice period starting to network strategically in person and on Linkedin

September is normally the time everything goes back to normal after summer and literally remember sending messages and emails to everyone and giving my availability to start projects straight away.

Step 2: Ready to build your personal brand?

What is a personal brand?

What does a personal brand actually mean to me? Why everyone talks about lately? I am alone I am surely not a brand, right? I’m an experienced [insert job title here], not a social networker — I can I just make an ad and put it online/buy a spot in the newspaper/stick some flyers somewhere and I will get some work right?

Let me tell you something… When you work as a freelancer, YOU ARE YOUR BRAND.

No doubts!

Whether you’re a user experience designer, a writer, a contractor, or a marketer or consultant when people buy your service they essentially buying yourself, your background your expertise, and the value you can bring to the table.

The way you come across online or offline is reflective of your success, your ability, and your professionalism. Your personality counts, big time! If people don’t like you, they won’t buy what you’re selling.

So, how can you start building a personal brand?

  • LinkedIn is the first place to go and really ensure it is updated. Every single detail of your experience. Every relevant job you ever had and every single detail that could be relevant to your offer. I always had a passion for graphic design and I started to get an approach for it on Linkedin just because I listed and I got people asking me if I offered any particular service around that. A great tip that I used on Linkedin was crafting a pitch message that I would use to connect with people and started to share this with new contacts as a way to start the conversation and get more clients on board.
  • Facebook groups are another great strategy. I wanted to increase my awareness of social media services so I started to join relevant groups for my field and started asking questions, lots of questions, as well as answering any I could. This helped not only increasing my personal knowledge and learn from others but also build a great network of people that now actually work with me on a regular basis.
  • Twitter is another great option, (when I still used it) often starting a conversation about a specific topic leads you to connect with a relevant decision-maker that considers you for a possible project. a great way to make this happen is starting a conversation over specific articles in your industry snd ask people feedback and thoughts
  • And on Meetup. I wish I knew about this so much earlier! This is a great website for networking strategically. I remember looking for someone in P.R that could help me for a project and it wasn’t until I joined a Meetup group that I collaborated with a wonderful industry elite and built a great work relationship
  • Quora is another great place to consider especially if you looking for answers by experts on a certain topic. I know to use Quora as a source of ideas for my content on Youtube as you can easily spot the trend of what people are looking for and create content around that
  • I then went to every industry-relevant event I could find and afford on Eventbrite and hustled like a maniac…

If you’re someone who still believes social media is just the place where you need to show off your last outfit or the last trip to Italy ( and btw if you do that”s great), you are actually using social platforms only for 2% of their potentials. There are so many ways to market yourself and your services and social media is the new way people look for help to solve their problem.

The opportunity to speak to people directly from your industry only through socials is incredible. Everyone is on social and the way you use them is totally free meaning that if you are someone that doesn’t really like to hang out on social you can just use strategically for business to increase your leads.

I personally always valued social media as I think it is the best way to connect for business and often what starts as a comment on your Instagram feed can turn into a collaboration online and offline.

If you combine a strong digital brand with meeting people in person, you’ll make yourself:

People won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you which is why creating value-driven content related to your job, products, and services on social media is the first step for people to see you as an expert and an influencer in your field, and in a world where most industry communication is digital, you better get digitally social.

Just remember social proof does not come from only your followers but the value that you deliver, What’s important here is that quality wins over quantity every time meaning that if you don’t have 10k followers on Instagram is not the end of the world. Being Instagram rich and bank poor doesn’t solve the problem right! Stay focused, stay targeted, and talk to every new connection as a person and not as a number. I like to have the “BFF approach” over the “buy from me approach”

3. Planning and time management really helped me

Planning is the key to winning and trust me I actually wish I learned this at the very beginning as when I started I was the worst at planning! When you work for yourself is really easy to procrastinate on things you don’t like doing. Being your own boss means freedom but also accountability and responsibility. It isn’t until I started working freelance that realised how much time is money… Why?

When you work for yourself and you are alone without a team you are 100% responsible for making it happen. This means that planning your schedule will help you to actually balance work and life and still be able to have your holiday and your time off to recharge.

When I started I was really scared of saying no to a new project as I did not want to miss the opportunity and plus I was scared that I was going to be without projects. I remember my first three months I was literally working seven days a week across different clients and as much I liked what I was doing I was BURNED OUT.

Start planning my days differently and take a look at my time management really helped to focus between and essentially doing more by working less.

Here’s my winning formula:

- Working with clients at some point became so busy that I couldn’t focus on anything else so the way I started to change this was by structuring my day differently.

Here’s how…

OK, this doesn’t always work out this way as life is different for everyone but finding your own formula and really start time boxing your day makes a huge difference.

After the first year working for myself, I started to feel a little overwhelmed, and thanks to a very good friend of mine I started to spend the first 30 mins of my morning by doing morning pages getting any thoughts positive or negative out of my head.

When I was working in a steady corporate income I would spend so much money on fashion and designer stuff which I really liked (my Italian blood is calling). As much as I loved designer shoes I realised that was not going to help my business in any way so I turned an impulsive purchase into a treat.

Let me tell you unless you’re one of these eternally adventurous types, freelancing is not fun to start with and surely is not for everyone. That sense of unsettling and uncertainty can feel scary which is why it is super important to really understand the purpose behind this change if you decided to take that leap into your career.

I personally think changes make you up-level your life if well thought through are great for you. I moved from Italy to London in 2013 leaving a well-paid job to start a new life and never looked back. After working my way up in my career I realised my job and myself were going in different directions and what I once enjoyed I thought was dreadful so I needed to change even if I was terrified.

And by the way, it’s ok to be scared, in fact, if you’re not, you’re either invincible or unaware of what could happen so you don’t think about it. That DOESN’T mean you don’t have to do it, it just means that you kinda have to know your limits, and plan accordingly.

When I started I was really unsure about so many things so I started to massively network to really get some mentorship and guidance.

I think when you are used to the corporate world it almost feels bad asking for tips or work but there’s nothing to be ashamed of, you need to start somewhere, and having that drive to improve your life and career is a strength, not a weakness.

I remember some of my first questions were the following and I am sure you probably have them too:

  • How much should I charge?
  • Where do I best find my clients?
  • How difficult is it to close a deal?
  • Should I template my pitches or create new ones every time?

4. Competition time


My main source of income to start with was my consultancy job but what my focus was at the time is to build a community online where I could sell my services to, so what I started to do was start looking at some of the people I followed and start asking for advice.

I knew Influencer marketing was a great way to build your following and also get more clients so I started to work on my Instagram presence and this took my job to the next level.

I also loved traveling and photography so I started to think about becoming a digital creator for traveling. Through my previous job, I started to meet and connect with lots of different creators and influencers so I started to really understand and study how this new digital world works and eventually started to work and collaborate with companies and land brand deals.

I started to contact hotel and holiday destinations and pitching myself as a digital creator and service provider and as much it has been difficult it paid off.

After working as a creator I started to feel the need of sharing my expertise in other ways and help small businesses grow their presence online through social media.

I began to retarget my audience and started delivering training in influencer marketing for small businesses and creators. This leads me to connect with wonderful experts and then turn an old passion for broadcasting into an opportunity to launch my podcast A Cup Of Jo where over a cup of coffee I would interview many industry elites sharing their strategies on how they turn their online dream into a business.

The podcast allowed me to reach a wider audience and to start building a community of hustlers ready to take a new step into their career and build the life that they love.

Constantly showing up online and share value through my content build my social proof and allowed me to bring more clients on board with my services.

The first milestone year and a half after I started working for myself in Sept 2019 I got featured on one of my favorite magazines for entrepreneurs and get nominated one of the most influential content creators in Europe.

At the beginning of 2020, I started JO TV a new youtube channel where I specialize in coaching creators on social media marketing and personal branding,and in march 2020 I get featured on Yahoo Finance as one of the top 20 leaders of the year in digital marketing.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, I started to pivot my business and decided to take my job to the next level and open my first digital agency Rubelli Digital where I help business owners to scale their business online.

At last….

What is the biggest takeaway here? What do you actually need to open the doors to your new career, new lifestyle, and impending financial freedom?

The simple answer is that there isn’t one. There is no one size fits all when it comes to business and career journey! Your puzzle is your own! Understanding how the pieces fit together and the right way to give the right value that they deserve is what will guarantee your success.

If you’re looking for that single piece of magical advice that will get you out of your job and thousands of clients a year, let me tell you, it doesn’t exist.

People will say you’re crazy to set out on this path of uncertainty, which if you’re like me is just confirmation that you should be doing it!

At first, they will ask you why you did it? Then once they realize that you had the courage to build a life on your terms they will come to you and ask you how you did it?

So prep it, work it, and then LIVE IT for all your worth!


What is your biggest takeaway from this?

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