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Freelancing has seen some serious growth in the last couple of years, and no one would blame you for thinking about going solo. Not only do freelancers enjoy less stressful schedules, but they also report being much happier people in general.
If you have a passion or a skill that you are great at, you’re already halfway to becoming a successful freelancer. The other half is just knowing how to take that first step. If you’re ready to take the leap, below, you will find everything you need to know about getting started with your freelancing career.
Choose Your Craft
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Surprisingly, a lot of people think about becoming a freelancer but do not act on it because they believe that they do not possess the right skillset. Let’s make something clear; the freelance community is not an exclusive club for the web and graphic designers only. Take a look at your resume and find the things that you can do well. This may not be straightforward, and you may be required to put your ‘creative thinking cap’ on, but practically any skill can now be turned into a freelancing business opportunity. Think outside the box and beyond your past work experience to find your niche. Maybe you’re social media savvy, easily capable of summarizing experiences in 140 characters or less, and have a talent for generating discussion with your Facebook posts. Think about your hobbies; there might be something there that you could turn into a business opportunity. Don’t allow the fear of lack of experience stop you from getting started. Becoming a freelancer means creating a job for yourself, not finding one.
Create a Brand
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Freelancing is a business, and for your business to succeed, you must create a strong brand. Creating your brand, you can start by building a well-functioning website with tools like Squarespace and Wix. If you’re one of the “old school” guys, you can start with WordPress. Also, don’t forget to find a reliable hosting provider, I’m using Hostinger for my personal website. Then you need to focus on capturing emails and potential leads. Sleeknote is a perfect tool for that. A website is useless if you don’t know what differentiates you from the rest, so figure out your unique selling points. What is it that you can offer to a client that they can’t get anywhere else? Businesses are seeking quality, not quantity, so finding one particular industry and only catering for that can make you far more attractive than the rest.
Build a Portfolio and Source Testimonials
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The great thing about freelancing is that anyone can do it. Your clients will not ask you to present your diploma from an Ivy League school before they hire you. They don’t care if you went to college at all. They do, however, like to see your portfolio and testimonials from your previous clients. If you’re just getting started, building your portfolio without jobs is a challenge, but not impossible. It’s okay to pick up some lower level jobs at the start, but for you to land higher-paid projects, you will have to do some projects for free. Offering to produce something for free in exchange for a testimonial is a great way to get your foot in the door. If you’re a graphic or web designer, there’s a vast amount of platforms like Dribbble, The Noun Project and Land-Book worth joining where you can become a contributor and share your designs and potentially land jobs.
Image source: Pexels
Once you have enough experience and testimonials under your belt – it’s time to get out there and start pitching. Who to pitch should be obvious, if you have succeeded in creating a strong brand. When pitching to companies via email, avoid pitching via their contact form. Your pitch won’t reach the right person and will yield 0 results. Contact senior members of the company instead and grab their attention by creating an appealing subject line to your email. Use Yesware to see when and if your email has been opened. Including links to your best work will establish social proof and increase the likelihood of getting a response. If you don’t have anything along the lines, ensure you include links to your social media and blog. The most important part of landing jobs is pitching to the related companies and pitching a lot. The more companies you approach, the more chances you have to land a job!
Play the Odds
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Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. The fundamentals of freelancing are that you are working for yourself, according to your schedule and doing jobs that you create for yourself. There is no guarantee you will have a consistent amount of work each month, but approaching companies often and consistently will increase your chances of landing jobs. Creating an account with PeoplePerHour and Upwork will also increase your chances of successfully securing a job. There are a lot of opportunities out there, so just brace yourself and get them!
So, if you’re ready to quit your desk job and fly solo, everything you need to know to get off to a great start is above. No journey to success is the same, but, if you arm yourself with patience and a reasonable skill set, then there is nothing standing in your way to succeeding as a freelancer.