Did you know that more than 2 million people in the UK do some form of freelancing? Whether it be for some extra pocket change or even as a full-time job, there is something for everyone in the freelance world. You might be wondering how to become a freelancer yourself, so you too can earn some extra cash.
So, how can you start freelancing? In this article, we’ll discuss just that. For beginners who want to know how to start freelancing, check out our 3-step guide below!
What Is Freelancing?
Freelancing is working at your own time, to your own targets. Essentially, you don’t have a boss or a dress code, and you’re not part of a company. Most importantly, it’s not a traditional 9-5 job!
Freelancers provide services to clients. Whether you draw, write, sing, or make YouTube videos, these are all things you can offer to potential clients. Ultimately, most freelancers still engage with other businesses in some way or another. The difference as a freelancer is:
You work with organisations, not for them
This is just the gist of what freelancing is really all about. If you want to find out more about freelancing, check out these articles.
How to Start Freelancing With No Experience
Before you start freelancing, there are some things to take into consideration. First, ask yourself if freelancing is sustainable for you.
You should take a look at your current lifestyle. Are you living the dream, or are you just about surviving from paycheck to paycheck? It’s unlikely that you’ll strike it big when you’re still a beginner freelancer. So, you should hold on to a reliable source of income before diving into it headfirst.
Do You Need Experience to Become a Freelancer?
Experience is ideal, but not a necessity for freelancing. Everyone has to start somewhere. If you have little or no experience, it just means you’ll take some time to build up your portfolio. This takes a lot of hard work, and possibly some low paying gigs, but that’s part-and-parcel of freelancing.
A pro tip is to think about any significant experience or qualifications you have. If you have a bachelor’s degree in art but want to become a writer, maybe you start by writing about topics related to art. From here, you can build the essential writing skills, and move on to other niches once you get them down.
Now that you’ve set your mind to “freelancer mode”, what are some essential steps to become a freelancer?
3 Steps to Become a Freelancer
1. Find Your Niche
The word “niche” is used a lot when talking about freelancing. This refers to your area of interest or expertise. It doesn’t refer to your skillset. For example, things like blog writing, graphic design, and full stack development are skills, rather than niches.
After identifying your skill(s), you then need to decide on your niche. Remember, this is when things get specific. Instead of selling yourself as just a graphic designer, you could go for logo designer or graphic designer for social media marketing instead. However, you don’t want to narrow things down too much. If there’s no market for your chosen niche, you won’t find many clients!
If you haven’t found your niche, you can market yourself as a generalist instead. But beware, as there are tons of generalist freelancers out there. So, finding your first gig as a generalist can be tough and competitive. This is common in the writing industry.
Even if you don’t have one specific topic you want to write about, choosing something simple like sports or business writing narrows things down enough to set you apart from the rest, while still leaving lots of doors open for you.
2. Build Your Portfolio
Building your portfolio lets you tell the world (or just your clients) more about you. Many clients may require you to have a portfolio for them to assess your capabilities before hiring you for a project.
Create important documents like a CV or résumé, a portfolio, as well as a cover letter, before searching for any opportunities. There are many ways to create these documents from free templates online. Do your research before using any of these however, as some may come with hidden charges.
However, if you have no experience, how do you build a portfolio? It’s simple: create some experience! If you want some writing samples in your portfolio, contribute to non-profit organisations, or just write an article for yourself. If you need to learn some specific skills, there are many free courses out there which share valuable information.
3. Find Your First Freelancing Gig
Finding your first freelancing gig is easier said than done. There are 3 main approaches to doing so, and these are applying, pitching, and giving.
Applying is the most common technique for beginner freelancers. Simply search on job boards, internet forums, or even company websites for clients hiring in your niche.
Pitching is arguably a more effective method. This includes offering your services on multiple platforms, like posting a gig on Fiverr. Another method is to cold pitch, advertising your services to clients directly via email or over the phone. This is not for the faint-hearted, as most people will say no!
Finally, we have giving. This is a rather unconventional technique, but it still has the potential to work. It involves offering your services for free. While it’s obviously not advisable to do this for long, it can serve as a great way to get in the door with specific clients. Plus, it’s a good way to build your portfolio.
Try these different methods to find your first freelancing client. It takes a lot of trial and error, so don’t be put off by the inevitable early rejections!
How to Start Freelancing Using Online Marketplaces
As I mentioned earlier, you can use online marketplaces to apply and pitch for a job. This isn’t the right approach for the giving side of things though, as these platforms don’t offer free projects to clients. But what are some examples of freelancing sites for beginners?
On Upwork you have to create your portfolio before you’re able to apply for any jobs on the platform. This includes your personal information, work samples, and various other details.
After registering, you can start applying for jobs. Crafting a compelling pitch to a potential client is vital, as there is a lot of competition on Upwork.
Take note that you get a limited number of free job pitches on Upwork, so use them wisely!
Fiverr allows you to pitch your services on their marketplace, where potential clients can find you. After creating your profile on Fiverr, you have to create gigs that list the services you offer.
Fiverr has a step-by-step template for you to follow to create your listing, so it’s fairly easy to set things up. Take note that Fiverr limits the number of gigs you can list on the marketplace (it varies by level), so don’t just spam anything and everything!
If you want to learn more about creating gigs on Fiverr, check out our full guide here.
Other Ways to Become a Freelancer
Of course, becoming a freelancer isn’t just limited to generic freelance marketplaces. For writers, try out job boards like ProBlogger for more writing-specific opportunities, or apply to external writing agencies directly. You can also try out cold pitching. Although this is more challenging, you have more control over your rates with this method. You can use internet forums such as Reddit to search for potential clients to cold pitch to.
You can of course look offline for freelance jobs too. Ask your friends, family, or even previous employers if they need any services that you can provide. You can approach local businesses face-to-face as well, giving potential clients a sense that you’re serious about your work.
There is no set path to become a freelancer. It’s up to you to decide which turns you’re going to take. I hope this article has given some insights on what freelancing is like, and how you can land that first freelance job! If you want more articles like this, check out the Sophical Blog.