How to turn your job experience into a freelance career, according to a web designer who made more than $200,000 in sales last year
- AJ Camara spent a decade in various creative fields before launching his website and branding service.
- Last year he booked more than $200,000 in sales from a combination of agency and freelance clients.
In 2019, when AJ Camara launched his creative agency, Acquired Aesthetic, he tapped his expansive and diverse work history to build his business.
Over the past 10 years, he’d started a digital magazine, founded a T-shirt business, written a book, and worked as a design expert at a food-technology company. Camara said each experience contributed to his arsenal of skills and the foundation of his business.
Today his business provides business branding and website development. Last year he booked more than $200,000 in sales from a combination of agency and Fiverr clients, documents verified by Insider show. This year he’s expecting to double that number.
Camara is part of the growing number of freelancers in the US. In fact, 60 million Americans, or 39% of the workforce, freelanced this year, up 3% from 2021, according to a report from Upwork. What’s more, some are earning millions of dollars through their ancillary work.
“My whole process is ensuring that I make it clear what my offering is and how it’s going to benefit you,” he said. “I specialize in dynamic websites that are not cookie-cutter, that are engaging and memorable.”
Camara, 34, shared his advice for turning transferable skills from former jobs into a freelance career and starting your business.
Use your past to differentiate yourself
No matter the type of business you decide to start, it’s important to differentiate yourself in the market, Camara said. He added that pointing to past projects, employers, or specific skills you gained from former jobs can be one way to highlight your value.
“Figure out a way that you can make your service special,” Camara said. Especially in the saturated freelance market, he added, “you want to have some sort of advantage.”
For example, when Camara launched his digital magazine, he learned how to use search-engine optimization, or SEO, and other search strategies to grow his brand’s reach. Now, as a website developer, he can use those skills on behalf of his clients, he said.
“Show that you have a specific skill but that you can apply that skill in different ways,” Camara said.
Educate yourself on your new craft, even before the transition
Before officially making the jump to entrepreneur, continually hone your skills, Camara said. Practice the service you’ll provide to master it before adopting it as a career, he added.
Before launching his agency and Fiverr services, Camara spent nearly a decade building websites. Having developed that skill for so many years, and continuing to educate himself on new platforms and technologies, he felt confident in offering up-to-date and comprehensive services as a freelancer.
Build your presence on multiple platforms
Camara said freelancers should use a combination of their own website and third-party platforms to promote their services.
A personal website helps prospective clients vet you as a service provider and understand your offerings, design experience, and aesthetic. But for new freelancers without a client list, platforms like Fiverr can be crucial for initial outreach.
“Look for different opportunities to offer your services,” Camara said, noting that some marketplaces offer specialized opportunities for high-quality creators, like Fiverr Pro.
He suggested aspiring freelancers take advantage of these reputable platforms to build up their businesses — seeking those additional opportunities helped him grow his business to where it is today.