How to Become a Freelance Data Scientist

Picture of Lillian Pierson, P.E.

Lillian Pierson, P.E.

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What data science professional out there hasn’t thought about making a little extra moolah by moonlighting as a freelance data scientist? We almost ALL have. In this article, you’re going to get 3 fast approaches you can use to start selling your data science skills on the open market – as a “freelance data scientist” – almost overnight.

I will be sharing my top 4 secrets and battle-tested techniques for landing the freelance data scientist job, no matter which approach you decide to try first.

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Hey! We’ve improved and greatly expanded this blog post in our more recent article entitled, The New Tech Freelancers’ Guide To Earning Over $150/Hour For Freelance Coding Jobs & Technical Writing Freelance Projects (with sourcing, pricing & portfolio examples)! You might want to read that 👆 updated version instead! 😊

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Why am I qualified to teach you anything about becoming a freelance data scientist? 

Well, I actually first started out as a freelance data scientist waaay back in 2012 – about when the term “data scientist” was even coined. From there I started my business, Data-Mania, and after serving 10% of Fortune 100 companies, I started coaching other data professionals on how to hit 6-figures in their own businesses FAST. 

Hi, I’m Lillian Pierson and I support data professionals to become world-class data leaders and entrepreneurs.

What I’m about to share with you assumes that you have some level of data science expertise…

There are 2 methods you can take to get started as a freelance data scientist and which you choose depends on your existing credibility and experience level in the data science space.

Let me lightly touch on the 2 methods and then I will tell you about the best approaches for becoming a freelance data scientist almost overnight.

What you can do is either “start now” or “wait for the gold”. You have to first decide which makes most sense for you given your current circumstance.

Start Now vs. Wait for the Gold Method

Start Now Method

This would be the approach you would take if:

  • You need to make money right now
  • You don’t have much experience in data science
  • Your time is not worth that much yet, so you can afford to take low-pay gigs to get started

This is really for new data science professionals who don’t have very much experience yet. If this sounds like what you’re after, then this article is for you. 

On the other hand – you may be a data scientist who knows their worth and is ready to wait for the gold.

Wait for the Gold Method

This method is for you if:

  • You have a day job, and you don’t have much time
  • You don’t need to make the money right now
  • Your time is already worth $300 per hour, so you have to treat it as such

With this method, you’d focus more on building brand equity so that you can charge $300/hour for the foreseeable future. Check out this video on how to do Data Consulting at >$300/hour.

I really pay close attention to what my community members need, so that I can develop the most lovable content possible for you. I’d love to hear from you: 

Like I said, I am sharing my 4 secrets on how to land gigs, but for now let’s look at the top 3 fastest approaches for becoming a freelance data scientist. 

Facebook Groups

With this job source, you have to be part of the groups and you should spend some time contributing and getting to know people. But I don’t mean data science groups – because those people already have your skill set. Look in startup groups, marketing groups, and entrepreneur groups where people are looking to grow and scale their businesses fast.


  • Great, high-end classy clients
  • Less competition
  • Built in word-of-mouth referrals


  • Less demand
  • Harder to find the jobs
  • Easier to get the job, but may take longer
  • Not a long-term strategy for scaling your business


Now let’s look at AngelList…


  • Decent paying jobs
  • Similar to applying for an employment position.
  • Effortless application process


  • More competition, less flexibility with respect to ease of entry
  • Less true freelancing work

Upwork, Etc.

It’s super easy to find a data science job on the Upwork platform. You don’t even need an account to go in and search to see all the job listings available.


  • Easy entry – charge a low rate
  • Lots of demand
  • Easier for people from western economies


  • It’s often race to the bottom – difficult to find high-end rates
  • Imagine having 100 micro-bosses

If you’re a new freelance data scientist, you probably aren’t aware of how much your skills are worth on the open market and how to price your services. Check out this video called: Data Analytics Consulting Rates in 2021 For New Data Freelancers – 2X YOUR RATES OVERNIGHT.

Now, we’ve gotten to the best part of this article which is my 4 battle-tested, top-secrets for landing freelance data science jobs…

4 Secrets to Landing Freelance Data Science Jobs

How To Become a Freelance Data Scientist1. AIDA

  • Attention – make sure that things like your headlines or your first sentences are catching the attention of your prospective clients
  • Interest – make sure that the content you wrote catches their interest by using statements that prove that you understand their problem and are able to offer them a solution.
  • Desire – make sure that you bring up areas where you are credible and that you’ve been able to achieve results in the past, like if you have skills that produce “xyz” quantitative results – something to make them “desire” you as the solution to their problem.
  • Action – this is where you tell them the exact action, they need to take to work with you.

2. Branding

You want to make sure that you are spot-on with your branding, and you can do that by making sure that:

  • Your profile picture really pops – it needs to have a clean background, make sure you stand out in the thumbnail, so people can identify you. 
  • Your images are of high quality – these are the images you use in your brand collaterals, i.e., blog posts, coding portfolio, etc. They all must be high-quality and tailored to the expectations and taste of the client avatar you’re seeking to get hired by. 
  • Your headlines should be clear and targeted – your headlines should basically state who you help and how you help them. This all goes back to AIDA – where you’re looking to capture someone’s attention and then move on to interest, desire, and action. That all starts with great, captivating headlines.

3. Credibility

Make sure that you spell out very clearly to them why you are the one for them. What is it about your credibility that screams expertise – that you are the expert on your topic. In a sea of potential data science candidates, what is it about you that makes you special and why should they care? 

Hint: This should be something the buyer cares about – not how many data science courses you have taken, or how many certificates you have. You have to think like you’re the buyer and how credible or relevant you are in meeting their needs.

4. Pricing

If you’re a data science freelancer or if you’re new to data science, you should be very clear with your clients that you are brand new and that is reflected in your “start now” pricing. Just offer them a really good discount (a fair price) for what you’re offering or selling them, in order to make up for the fact that you haven’t done it in the past. That’s also a really easy way to get your foot in the door and get hired despite all of the competition.

Since you’re new, you’re taking this opportunity to build your experience and your portfolio, so you want to make sure that everyone involved is happy. If they’re not happy, then give them their money back – that’s another way to seal the deal in terms of signing clients.

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You may also love it inside our Data Leader and Entrepreneur Community on Facebook. It’s chalked full of some of the internet’s most up-and-coming data leaders and entrepreneurs who’ve come together to inspire and uplift one another. 

Join our community here.

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I’m a fractional CMO that specializes in go-to-market and product-led growth for B2B tech companies.
If you’re looking for marketing strategy and leadership support with a proven track record of driving breakthrough growth for B2B tech startups and consultancies, you’re in the right place. Over the last decade, I’ve supported the growth of 30% of Fortune 10 companies, and more tech startups than you can shake a stick at. I stay very busy, but I’m currently able to accommodate a handful of select new clients. Visit this page to learn more about how I can help you and to book a time for us to speak directly.

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Hi, I'm Lillian Pierson, Data-Mania's founder. We welcome you to our little corner of the internet. Data-Mania offers fractional CMO and marketing consulting services to deep tech B2B businesses.

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