Freelancing can be an incredibly exciting way for you to follow your passions and create your own dream job. Regardless of what field you work in, getting to make your own schedule and be your own boss is certainly tempting. But how do you find freelance work, and how can turn your side hustle into a long-term freelance business? The goal of this guide is to get you started finding freelance work so you can build the career you've always imagined having. Read on and learn all about how to get started in the exciting, fast-paced world of freelance work.
Consider (And Show Off) Your Experience and Qualifications
Starting a full-time freelance career can seem stressful and overwhelming. A good first step is sit down and make sure that you're ready for the challenges of freelance work. Are you comfortable motivating yourself to get started, avoiding distractions while you work, and pushing yourself to pick up the slack on a project you're doing all by yourself? If so, you may have the skills necessary for becoming an effective freelancer.
Once you've decided to give finding freelance work a shot, it's time to begin assembling a portfolio with examples of your work. Whether you're a graphic designer, writer, virtual assistant, or makeup artist, building your portfolio is a great way to show potential clients what kind of projects you have experience working on. If you're comfortable branching into web development, designing your own website can be a terrific calling card that allows you to inform future clients of your contact information, the services you provide, and testimonials from your peers.
Venture Onto the Job Boards
Freelancing can certainly feel isolating, and many new freelancers don't know how to get started finding their first freelance gig. A good place to start is a job board. Job boards are sites that allow clients to post job listings for freelancers or for freelancers to post listings with offers for clients. Because the Internet is full of job boards, they can be a great place for finding your first few gigs and begin to generate some word of mouth.
Although job boards are certainly a good place for looking for a freelance gig, they have a few downsides. First, some job boards take a percentage of each transaction, with some sites taking as much as 20% as your total payment as a fee. Second, just because many job boards contain hundreds or thousands or job postings doesn't mean they're all ideal: some may be scams, and the prices being offered for others may be lower than you'd like.
Consider letting your first few gigs be more about creating contacts and learning the ropes than about getting a big paycheck. You may find that the experience you gain during your first few gigs is more valuable than cash, at least at the beginning of your freelance career.
Network, Network, Network
Although you may feel isolated when you're sitting at your desk trying to break into a new freelancing career, the truth is: you're not alone. Turn to your network for assistance when you're feeling stressed. You never know who's willing to vouch for you to a new client, or who's willing to supply your website with a brand-new testimonial about your skills.
If your circle feels small, try searching for freelancer groups on social media, especially Facebook and LinkedIn. These groups are great ways to find both job listings and like-minded peers who have their own small businesses. If you notice someone who seems like they have a similar career as the one you want, consider asking them if they'd mind meeting for a coffee or chatting about their career over the phone. Who better to ask for freelancing tips than a fellow freelancer?
Get Your Name Out There
By this point, you've probably worked on building a portfolio, started searching for potential clients on job boards, and connected with other freelancers to make connections in your field. But another great area to explore is social media, which can be a great way to engage potential clients and generate word of mouth.
Post examples of your graphic design work on your freelance business's Instagram page, or link to samples of your best copywriting on your Twitter account. Having a robust social media presence will prove to potential clients that you're both tech-savvy and willing to go the extra mile to engage customers.
If you're looking for a more direct way to approach potential clients, try cold emailing them. While directly emailing someone you'd like to work with may feel daunting, as long as it's done well, cold emailing can be an effective way for landing clients.
Make sure that your email is appropriately personalized for each recipient, contains clear information about your services, and ends with your contact information so the client can easily get in touch. Taking the initiative to send a cold email is just the kind of move that could have a huge payoff at the start of your freelance career.
Use Tools That Can Help
Starting your new freelance career can be difficult, but there are tools that can help with the administrative side of your small business. Freelance platforms such as Tispr have become increasingly common.
These platforms make it easy for freelancers to draw up and send out contracts, design and track invoices and payments, and track tasks and billable hours. If you're worried about handling the paperwork you need to keep your freelance business running smoothly, a freelance platform may be the perfect choice for you.
Saying good-bye to a full-time job and turning a side hustle into a full-time career isn't for everyone. It takes grit, determination, and a lot of courage. Designing a good portfolio or website, searching job boards, networking, and reaching out to clients — as well as using a freelance platform — can help you land and retain those important first few clients. By nurturing your working relationships with your first clients and continuing to land even more, you'll be well on your way to running a successful small business in no time.