The American workforce landscape is transforming into a freelance machine.
According to an article published in Quartz last year, it is estimated that approximately 40 percent of American workers will become freelancers within the next decade. That’s a substantial figure and it signifies that many are considering the at-home switch instead of hitting the concrete jungle on a daily basis.
Just like any other new endeavor, it takes a lot of research, dedication and disappointment when one begins to freelance, whether it’s in the writing, graphic design, administrative or marketing industry. Beginning a career freelancing without any prior experience can be difficult, but within time that changes for the better because it just takes persistence and some hard work.
Within time, it’s likely that a freelancer will maintain an immense portfolio, but in the beginning stages it’ll take some sacrifice and perhaps very little pay to start earning a desirable living from it. Here are some tips on how to start freelancing without any experience.
Create a blog and start posting items you have done yourself. Instead of writing an article or creating a graphic to sell, produce one to showcase to the rest of the world and then post it on a WordPress or Blogger blog. This way, there can be something physical to show potential clients rather than promises.
Volunteer (or offer a low price)
Let’s face it: if a client can get something for free, whether it’s an article, a website or a logo, they’re going to take it. If possible, take on a couple of pro-bono assignments to get the hang of it and to establish yourself as a professional freelancer. When offering your services to clients, they’ll want to see examples of your work and previous clients so start out working on a handful of assignments for free or a low price. After this, you can start raising your rates to what you think you’re worth.
This is where social media can be useful in your endeavors. By using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks, you can connect with those in the same industry and potentially learn about new gigs or any outsourcing projects that another writer or company needs to complete. Be sure to build a strong network of connections.
Are you a science writer? Are you a proofreading and editing extraordinaire? Do you design logos for businesses? Is your expertise in search engine optimization? Establish your brand and promote it to the rest of the world. By having a specific freelance specialty, you’ll be able to attract certain clients that could be quite lucrative moving forward.
Use Freelance Websites
There are numerous websites on the Internet for freelancers: oDesk, Helium Network, Freelancer and Elance are just some of the marketplace outlets for freelancers to connect with individuals and companies seeking content, websites and expertise. Many clients who post job listings on Elance, for instance, regularly say that they welcome newcomers.
Be sure to create a detailed account profile with a professional photograph. Also, take a test or two to show that you are competent in your field.
After you have completed a few projects from clients, ask for a testimonial from them and if they’re positive then show it to the rest of the world on your blog or portfolio to let potential customers know that previous clients have been quite pleased.
When it comes to working as a freelance, it’s a global competitive marketplace. This means that you must market yourself as someone unique, competent and affordable. You might think that you’re the next Anton Chekhov or Seymour Hersh and therefore your work is worth $20 per word, but that’s unrealistic when someone else might charge $0.25 per word for the same kind of work.
Stand out from the crowd and remain as competitive as possible.
Throw a Pitch
Is there a local newspaper that you think would publish your journalistic piece? Is there a small business in your town that has yet to launch a website? Well, make a pitch to any person or enterprise that you think would be interested in your work. You don’t need to be an exuberant salesman, but be confident in both yourself and your services. With persistence and a little bit of luck, you could have a long-term client.
Are you a novice or a seasoned freelancer? Share your experiences, ideas and concerns in the comment section.