How do I Become an Independent Contractor?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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The steps to become an independent contractor are usually much the same as those for starting a business. In most cases, you will need to determine the types of services you will provide and figure out how to find clients. Depending on where you live, becoming an independent contractor means you will technically operate a business, so you may need a business license. You may also need to create a basic contract for those who wish to use your services. Once you have handled these basics, you will usually have to advertise your services or bid or apply for independent contractor projects.

Before you put forth the effort to become an independent contractor, it is a good idea to learn what being an independent contractor means. As an independent contractor, you will be a freelancer who is not employed by the companies that hire you. Instead, you will usually receive an independent contractor fee for the work you perform. As an independent contractor, you cannot expect those who hire you to calculate the taxes you owe or withhold them from the money you earn.


Generally, the first step you'll have to take to become an independent contractor is deciding the types of services you want to offer. You may choose based on your skills and interests as well as the need for the services you provide. For example, you may choose to become a freelance writer or editor or you may become a doula. If your interest is in helping people market their online businesses, you may become an Internet marketer instead. You may even work as an independent contractor by offering advice based on your area of expertise and experience.

Once you’ve determined the services you want to offer as an independent contractor, your next step may be the creation of a business plan. Essentially, you are starting a business, so you will need to include details about how you will raise start-up cash, operate your business, and reach out to potential clients. Your plans may change as you gain experience, but a business plan provides a basic blueprint from which you can begin. As you are planning your business, you may also do well to create a contract you can use for clients who wish to hire you.

You may also need a business license to become an independent contractor, though this may depend on the laws in your jurisdiction. Typically, obtaining a business license will require you to complete an application and pay a fee. You may also do well to learn whether your jurisdiction requires any additional licensing for the type of work you will perform.

After creating a viable business plan and securing the licensing that is required in your area, you may begin to look for clients who are in need of your services. You may implement an advertisement campaign to attract perspective clients, for instance. Many independent contractors also find it helpful to search job boards and freelance websites for projects. Additionally, networking opportunities may lead to referrals.


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