Working from the comfort of your home, setting your own working hours, drinking your coffee slowly, not dealing with an angry boss, commuting or the office life. All this is possible thanks to freelancing. But how do you reclaim your time, earn that freedom and reap all the benefits if you have no experience?
It’s still possible for anyone. We live in the best times to start an online business and work remotely. If you’re determined and put in the effort, you can achieve that while at your regular job. Once you earn enough as a freelancer, you can quit and dedicate your whole workdays and focus to that so you can build a name for yourself, charge more, and turn it into a business.
However, the starting point is crucial and you should do it right. It will take time, you’ll make changes to your lifestyle, you’ll say ‘no’ to some things too. Here’s exactly what you need to do to get started as a freelancer from scratch:
Start building your portfolio today.
The most important thing to realize about making money online is that you will begin doing the work long before any money comes in. But that’s something you should enjoy, not complain about.
You’re just starting out and have no idea what works and what doesn’t, what clients are looking for, how payments work, what you should charge, etc. So you need to look around first. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be building your portfolio from day one.
How do you do that? Simple. By doing for free the exact things you will be changing for one day.
Define what you’re good at, know more about, or are already working at your regular job (doing that remotely and for yourself is also freelancing and can help you ditch the 9 to 5).
If you’re a writer, for example, you should start writing and publishing your content from day one. The best way to do that is to be a guest contributor on platforms in your niche and start your own blog. When it’s time to contact potential clients, you will simply provide links to your content, so they can know what quality to expect.
If you’re a web designer, you should make your website look professional. You can have a few if you enjoy that and have the time, each targeting the different clients you think you can help in the near future.
Then, you can ask some friends or simply contact businesses without online presence or that have a bad website. Offer them to create a nice one-page website, or fix specific elements of their existing platform. Most will gladly accept. When you do that, ask them for feedback and place these testimonials (together with details about each project) on your website.
Join the right platforms and start offering your services.
Don’t worry. No one expects you to go contact people personally and ask them to pay you for your services. There’s a more professional and easier way to do it. That’s by using the online platforms and marketplaces where employers meet freelancers. FreelanceMyWay is one such example.
You create a profile (more on this below), check out the posted jobs, reply to one or more that fit your skills and seem like a good fit for you, and await your first response.
Of course, that won’t happen right away. Or maybe it will. Depending on how you communicate with the client, what your fee is, and what samples you provide.
Be okay with charging less in the beginning, though. The point is to see these first dollars coming in. Then everything will change. You will be able to call yourself a freelancer. Once you’ve worked with one client, you will analyze the experience and see how you can replicate the process to find another client.
Create a great profile.
Take your time when creating your profile. First impression does matter in the digital world, so do your best.
That means having a quality head-shot. Writing a good description that shares a bit about you and what you do. Try to imagine what a client wants to hear. In your case, your ideal client. And simply add a personal touch to the text so they can get an idea of your personality too.
Then, fill all other information, such as your payment details, hourly rate, exact services that you’re offering, employment history, language skill level, etc. Don’t skip a field as the client will think you have something to hide. Share your knowledge and motivation by focusing on your strengths, though.
Improve your online presence to get found by clients.
Finding your first clients isn’t easy, but it’s just the beginning. From then on, you will be more comfortable with the whole process, will know how to approach people and set the right expectations, discuss deadlines, payment and more.
Getting to the next level, however, happens by growing outside of these platforms made for freelancers and employers and businesses. You can create your very own brand and become an expert in the niche. The more places you appear on, the higher the chance to get found by potential clients.
Do that by publishing content on your blog, create useful resources and email people mentioned in them that you think can link to them from their platforms or can share them with their audience on social media. Make videos talking about the life of a freelancer and the struggles you overcome, so you can get your name on YouTube too and reach more people.
Work on your site in your free time and get all the important brand elements in place – tell your story on the About page, be easily accessible by sharing all your contact details in the Contact page, keep your blog updated, create a great user experience, reply to all comments, have a stunning ‘Hire Me’ page, and more.
Last but not least, start networking. Your next client can come from anywhere. And I mean anywhere.
If you keep in touch with old colleagues and let them know about your new business project, they can refer other people to you who need what you’re offering.
Having profiles on all important social media channels and being active on each means you get to connect to an influencer, be found by a journalist who wants to share your story, or bring new visitors to your website from anywhere.
Share your own articles there, but also other content you read. Reply to people’s posts and comments when it’s something about your field, and don’t be afraid to ask your followers questions and start a discussion.
Are you ready to start your journey to becoming a freelancer?
Now that you know what the first steps to becoming a freelancer are, you have no excuse not to begin building your portfolio today, learning things about your niche, and connecting with people online. All this can turn into something big just a year from now if you’re consistent and dedicated.
Most people don’t even give this a try as they think having no experience is an obstacle. But that’s not true. Overcome that mental barrier today and take action in the right direction.