How to Start Your Freelance Career

How to Start Your Freelance Career

This article is part of our Work with .ME (#WorkWithdotME) campaign, which with the help of our partner registrars aims to offer a .ME domain name registration for $0.99, in order to help you get your freelance career started.


It just might happen that questions such as ‘How do I start my freelance career?’ and ‘How do I land a first client?’ or quite perhaps, ‘How to turn freelancing into a consistent source of income?’ are on your mind right now. And we understand that transitioning from a full-time job, or directly from your classroom and starting a freelance career, can bring on some worries as you are entering an uncertain chapter of your life. But it’s important to seize this opportunity and do it right. 

So, let’s see what are the necessary steps you ought to make in order to start as a freelancer?

1. Take Care of Your Online Presence: Build a Great Portfolio Website

It is quite understandable that at this point you want to commence your freelance career as soon as possible, and there’s a high chance that developer skills are not up your alley. It might seem that the very first logical step to take is to update and devote special attention to LinkedIn in order to find a new job opportunity since that’s the place where all prospective clients or employers are, but we ask you to reconsider. No matter what keywords you select for your posts, or how many connections you aim to make, you need to differentiate yourself from what everyone else is already doing on LinkedIn.

Firstly, if you are to stand out in the mass of the same LinkedIn profiles, you need to do something that will set you apart from others. That something is a great portfolio website. The same goes for any freelancing platform. Before you start looking for a job opportunity, you need to take care of your online presence. You need to show that you are unique and the best there is.

Therefore:

  • A professional website is a must if you want to kickstart your freelance career.
  • Needing to know how to code in order to make a personal website is a myth. 

Building a strong online presence is essential to get a breakthrough as a beginner freelancer. When you send that email to your potential clients, you’ll want to look professional and polished. Online presence through your personal website allows you to introduce yourself, your references and previous projects. This gives you the opportunity to present yourself to the local community and the world in an effective and professional manner. 

how to start your freelance career

Think of your website as a virtual business card you can never run out of.

Here are some things you have to include in your website:

  • Show your character and play to your strengths.  
  • list your skills, previous experiences, examples of your work and achievements.
  • The contact information should be clearly visible.
  • Link your social media platforms to your website. 
  • Testimonials and credentials.

When it comes to the technicality of creating a website, no need to despair. There are plenty of website builders that help you create your website in a matter of minutes. 

Opportunity: We partnered with our like-minded friends – registrars to offer you a .ME domain name registration and a website builder for just $0.99, that can help get your freelance career started.

So, before you start sending your CV and detailed offers, build a great portfolio website to show to your prospective clients. 

In 90% of cases, the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks where to search for freelance clients, the answer is platforms such as Freelancer, Toptal, Upwork, Fiverr and so on. While this seems like an obvious choice at the very beginning, we urge you to take your moment and consider your options. 

You’ll scroll through the number of possible jobs on these platforms, and select the most quality looking ones. However, the lack of experience and credibility dictated by the internal ranking system of those platforms will prove to be the hurdle in securing the job. 

Now, assuming that you are thinking “Well, I need a job, I cannot be too picky about the platform I choose to search for clients!” You are absolutely right. Make your profile on the freelance platforms of your choice, but while you are bidding on job posts, direct a part of your effort on local opportunities and clients you’ve already worked with. You can build a successful freelance career solely on local opportunities.

how to start your freelance career

Disclaimer: We are not telling you not to try, as you might succeed in securing a great job through these freelancing platforms. However, if you do succeed, it will take significant time, which for many nowadays is not an option. 

So, in parallel to creating a freelancer profile on above-mentioned platforms, think about clients you can find locally, in your immediate environment. One of the many advantages of freelance work is that it allows you to go international and search for the clients across the seven seas. And while that is great, as a beginner, focus on the prospects you can acquire through your network and the local community. 

  • Whatever your field of work is, take a hard look at the current state of your local community, how can your skills work to their advantage? 
  • What can you contribute to local businesses? 
  • Analyse the problems the businesses or individuals are facing nowadays and how you and your freelance work fit into that picture. 

Networking is an important aspect of your freelance career success.

Contact all your acquaintances and everyone you’ve ever worked with to notify them you are open for business opportunities. You can do this through email or LinkedIn message. There is no shame in letting everyone know you are freelancing now, as this could lead to a fruitful cooperation.

If you notice you could improve your network, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, check your local Chamber of Commerce, or your local BNI chapter. Another thing you can try is checking out Meetup and Eventbrite. Also, try googling [your city] + events/businesses/entrepreneur/job opportunities. 

Ready to start your freelance career? We partnered with our like-minded friends – registrars to offer you a .ME domain name registration and a website builder for just $0.99, that can help get your freelance career started.

3. Set Strategic Prices

While, when you are starting out something completely new and lack significant experience, you won’t be able to charge higher prices at the beginning, this doesn’t mean you are supposed to do work for free. 

It’s important to set a strategic price of your work. How many resources, time and effort, does it take you to do a certain job, and what’s the hourly rate for that line of work. Unfortunately, businesses will not be able to pay high hourly rates to professionals who lack experience and would rather go with a lower-paying option where possible. So make sure you set competitive hourly rates, but also a price that shows that you respect your work. After all, you can’t afford to not be paid, and there are only 24 hours in one day.

how to search for freelance jobs

With each new project and experience, you will be able to raise your hourly price. But unless you have great recommendations and significant experience from the start, check out what beginners in your field are charging. 

Keep in mind that working for free and not communicating the value of your work is a trap you must avoid. In other words, it will be harder for people to pay you later on if you accustom them for doing work for free. Therefore, it is good, even when giving preferential prices, to decide what the general price is, how much is the discount, and how much is the total price of your work. This way, you can always refer to that original price if necessary, so that the starting price during the negotiations is not lowered. 

4. Collect Those Testimonials

One of the important parts of your website should be testimonials and references. After all, it is time to let your prospective clients read just how much skills, expertise and knowledge you have. One of the ways to show this is through testimonials given by those who have either worked with you as clients in your full-time job or from your former colleagues and employers. 

why collecting testimonials is important

Testimonials can also come through your blog posts, where you can describe your approach to the client’s problem. Engage in social media platforms and ask your clients if they would be willing to share your website or blog post on their social media outlets, and reference your work in their posts. 

Another way that testimonials can help you up your game, is by assisting you in creating a compelling story about yourself – and as many of us know, that might be the toughest part in this entire process. Read those testimonials and see if there is something you should change or improve about you or your performance. Sometimes others have a clearer picture of us then we do. Above all, this will help you in creating a great pitch!

5. Learn How to Pitch Yourself

Now, more than ever, it’s important to know how to pitch yourself and your work. This is not time to be shy. Your website should be the online advertisement of your skills, capabilities, experiences and accomplishments. This is time to be assertive and proactive. 

With a large number of people losing their jobs, it is important to know the right way to sell your skills right. In order to be successful, research your niche and target audience. What can you offer that scarcely anyone else can? 

learn how to pitch yourself

Keep on practising your pitching skills with your friends and family, until you are able to explain what you do and why someone should hire you in 3 sentences and 30 seconds. This is your so-called elevator pitch – a chance to spark someone’s interest and capture their attention in a brief amount of time.

Be vigilant and anticipate questions and answers your prospective clients might give you. Work up different scenarios and come prepared to answer any questions and develop a shot preview of your solution for their business on the spot. However, if you notice that something is missing in your pitch or that you cannot put it well together, it is a sign that you must work harder on it.

Important news: We partnered with our like-minded friends – registrars to offer you a .ME domain name registration and a website builder for just $0.99, that can help get your freelance career started.

If the competition is high in your field of expertise, acquire new skills and work towards setting yourself as an expert in the field. One of the ways you can do that is through the blog section on your website. Blog posts are your opportunity to show the wider audiences (and your target audience) your knowledge and skills applied to a certain problem or a topic. Don’t be afraid to share the knowledge in order to ‘hook’ your audience in. 

One More Thing on Freelance Career

Starting your freelancing career usually begins with thorough preparation and a financial buffer that would last you at least a couple of months. But the circumstances that the world is facing right now, do not leave that option to many of us. So, instead of slowly transitioning into a freelance career, it is time to make a plan and put your skills and your network to immediate use. 

Create a personal website and show just how serious and professional you are. Be assertive and have your skills represent your hourly rates. Try freelancing job platforms, but look for job opportunities through your network and the local community. Freelancing is especially attractive because it enables you to acquire international clients, but keep in mind that when you go internationally, your competition widens, and you need to keep working on expanding your skillset. 

We wish you the best of luck!

Author:

Tijana Ostojic

Tijana Ostojic

Most likely you'll find her planning her next summit with a bunch of books in her hiking backpack. Keen on a written word, she's working hard on writing a book for children.

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