If there’s one thing that all would-be freelancers get intimidated by, it’s just taking that first, big step into the freelancing world. That’s really too bad, as there are numerous, easy ways to make the transition into this exciting career all the smoother.
One thing that any would-be freelancer shouldn’t dwell on is the fear of becoming a freelancer. This is usually defined by questions about one’s skill level, experience and ability to survive and thrive by finding a consistent stream of clients. Asking yourself these kinds of questions leads to paralysis and cripples your entry in the freelance world.
Instead, take a deep breath, steady yourself, and then use our suggestions for some easy ways to get started as a freelancer.
Pick Your Specialty
Getting your freelance career off the ground is dependent on you being able to identify that specific service that you can provide. Look at your skill set. Are you a good writer, a skilled designer or developer, or a talented editor whose eyes pick up errors that others easily miss? Whatever service you excel at, this will be your specialty.
Since so many things are outsourced these days by companies looking to save money—copywriting, programming, designing, etc.—there’s a good chance you can build your freelance business remotely. So select your specialty, and get started.
Set up Your Own Website
You need to have an online presence in today’s hyper-competitive freelancing industry because that’s your biggest marketing tool. If your prospective clients can’t find out any information about you—such as basics like how to get in touch with you or what your specialty is—then how can you expect to ever get work and become well-known?
Fortunately for you, starting your own website can’t be easier. There are free services like the ever-popular Wix, which allows you to build your own site without knowing how to code, through simple, drag-and-drop technology.
Paying for yearly hosting is super-affordable, too, and there are many, reasonably priced hosting services out there.
Get Those All-Important Testimonials
It’s tempting to think of this issue as something of a Catch 22 situation. After all, how can you get testimonials…when you’re just starting out? Isn’t getting testimonials for those seasoned, veteran freelancers who’ve already proved themselves for years?
Here’s how you can increase your chances of snagging testimonials even when you’re just starting out: Do work pro bono for some noteworthy clients. Begin pitching stories and ad copy to various, known publications and businesses, and tell them what everyone likes hearing: You won’t charge them anything for your work.
If you produce really exceptional work for them, they’ll be happy to give you testimonials, and that’s how you can get solid testimonials even without years of experience or an impressive portfolio.
Start to Network
This is so easy that it’s almost a no-brainer. Networking is an essential part of freelancing success. The pros know this, which is why it’s one of the most recommended freelancer tactics to hone until it becomes second nature. When you’re searching for new clients and work, making and retaining those all-important connections is a must since that’s likely where work will come from.
Networking can either be done in person or online through great sites like LinkedIn. Both are very helpful, and the golden rule that you should practice is being authentic and sincere when you reach out to clients, connections and people. People appreciate you being yourself, and it can greatly help in forming professional relationships.
You’ll find that things will go much more efficiently for you if you make productivity a priority. As a freelancer, you won’t have the benefit of really working in a team, where co-workers or your boss can motivate you directly. Instead, you’ll be independent and offsite much of the time, which means you’ll have to learn to keep motivated, organized and manage time exceptionally well.
To get you on the right track, we recommend systems such as David Allen’s famous Getting Things Done (GTD) and productivity apps like Todoist and Evernote.
Ease Yourself Into Freelancing
Getting over the hump of freelancing fear is key to starting off your freelancing career. These easy ways we’ve illustrated above can help you to get your foot in the door of the industry. Once you get over the initial lack of confidence, you’ll see how there’s nothing to fear.
With smart, hard work and the right protocol, you can go from not having any experience to gradually building out your portfolio until you’re a desired commodity in your freelance niche.