In this post, I will discuss how you can break into the world of freelancing and become successful in it, even if you don’t have any experience. I’ll talk about things like creating a portfolio, finding projects and clients, building your network, setting your rates, and lots more.
I’ll start by suggesting some things to ask yourself before you make the leap to self-employment. Then I’ll provide more detail on how you can become a successful freelancer, and where to look for your first clients.
Can You Start Freelancing With Zero Experience?
You can start freelancing with zero experience. Although having some prior experience will help you showcase your skills and proficiency in a certain area or industry, it is still possible to get started from scratch.
However, while you don’t need experience selling your skills as services to become a freelancer, you will of course need experience with the skills you want to sell!
You’ll struggle to become a freelance writer if you aren’t very good at writing, for example. And just because you hear there is good money in freelance web development, that doesn’t mean you should become a freelance web developer if you’ve never written a line of code.
However, you can definitely learn freelancing skills and turn them into services. But again, you’ll need some experience and a good understanding of the skills to be able to make any money with them. But let’s assume you do have a skill you want to sell and you have at least some experience with it. How do you start selling that as a freelancer?
Tips For Starting Freelancing With No Experience
1. Start By Working For Free
If you are just starting out and have no experience, it can be a great idea to offer some of your services for free or at heavily discounted rates. This way, you can start building up a portfolio of work that demonstrates your skills and abilities to potential clients.
However, don’t do this for too long (ideally only one or two jobs), as clearly it’s not sustainable. It’s only something you should consider if you want to quickly build up some testimonials. Also bear in mind that not everyone will leave a positive testimonial even if you do it for free.
2. Focus On One Core Skill
It may be tempting to try and learn all the skills in the world as quickly as possible when starting out as a freelancer with zero experience. However, it’s important to focus on mastering one core skill before trying to diversify into other areas. This will help you build expertise in that field and make you more attractive to clients, and it will likely prevent you getting too stressed out trying to learn too many things at once.
3. Networking Is Key
When starting out as a freelancer, networking is key. Reach out to other professionals in the sector who may be able to give you advice or even refer some clients your way. You can also join forums and online communities where potential employers post job openings for freelancers on a regular basis.
4. Showcase Your Work
If you have some sample projects that you’ve already completed, make sure to include them in your portfolio. This will help potential clients get an idea of the quality of work they can expect from you if they hire you for their project. If you don’t have any samples you’ve created for clients yet, make some examples purely for the purpose of displaying in your portfolio!
I did this when I was first looking for freelance writing clients. I started writing articles on Medium and on my own website that I could then show off as samples. You could do this in a variety of other niches too, such as creating a portfolio of example logos, or some sample apps/programs if you’re looking to offer those services.
5. Market Yourself
Finally, it’s important to market yourself effectively by creating a website (which you can do fairly cheaply or even for free) and social media profiles that showcase your work, skills, and experience. Try to update these regularly so that potential clients can see how you’re progressing and get a better feel for what kind of services you provide.
How To Know If Freelancing Is Right For You
Are You Comfortable Working With No Guaranteed Income?
As a freelancer, there is no guarantee of regular work or payments from clients. You have to accept this risk and be prepared for slow periods when there may not be much work available. This is especially true in the beginning.
Do You Have Enough Savings To Cover Unexpected Expenses?
When starting out as a freelancer, you will likely incur some upfront costs such as purchasing equipment or supplies, or various software tools, before you get paid from any clients. It’s best to have some savings aside to cover for these expenses and potential downtime when you don’t have clients or projects on the go.
Are You Self-Motivated & Disciplined Enough To Work On Your Own?
Working as a freelancer requires dedication, discipline, and the ability to stay motivated without the structure of a traditional office environment or boss. If this sounds like something you can handle, then freelancing may be right for you! But how do you get started?
Becoming A Freelancer With Zero Experience: The First Steps
Research & Choose Specializations
It’s important to decide on what skills you want to specialize in and focus on those when marketing yourself. It may be helpful to look at what services other successful freelancers in your sector are offering, and determine where you can fill any gaps in your knowledge. There are lots of ways to learn freelancing skills, from YouTube videos to paid courses.
Create A Portfolio Or Sample Project
If you don’t have any prior experience, create some sample projects that showcase your abilities. You can then use these as part of your portfolio when pitching to potential clients.
Set Up An Online Presence
Having an online presence is key for freelancers. Creating a website and having active profiles on social media can help you stand out from the competition and make it easier for potential clients to find you. It also just makes your operation look more like a real business.
Do some research into what other freelancers in your sector are charging for similar services so that you can set competitive prices. Make sure to include any additional costs such as taxes or fees when calculating your quotes.
Note: You’ll also need to take into account where you live, as freelancer earnings in different countries can vary quite a lot.
Finally, take advantage of networking opportunities to increase your chances of finding clients. Joining forums and attending events related to your industry is a great way to meet people who may be able to refer work your way or introduce you to potential clients and collaboration opportunities.
Tips For Getting Started
1. Make Sure You Have The Right Tools & Equipment
Before starting your freelance business, make sure you’ve purchased or acquired all of the necessary tools and equipment to get the job done. This might be a word processor if you’re a writer, design software if you’re in a creative industry, or accounting software to keep track of your income and expenses.
2. Set Realistic Goals & Deadlines
As a freelancer, it can be easy to procrastinate or take on too many projects at once, so it’s important to set clear goals for yourself. You don’t have a boss setting your deadlines for you, so you need to take it into your own hands.
3. Communicate Regularly With Clients
Keeping in regular contact with clients is essential for any successful freelancing career. Make sure you stay on top of emails and respond promptly to any queries they might have regarding their project. Providing good customer service is essential.
4. Manage Your Time Wisely
With no boss around to set your schedule, it’s important to be able to manage your own time efficiently. Set aside specific hours for work and make sure you stick to them!
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
As a freelancer, it can sometimes be tempting to take on any job that comes your way – even if it’s not something you really want to do. However, if the project isn’t in line with your goals or skill set, don’t be afraid to turn down the offer! Taking on projects you’re not capable of or simply don’t enjoy can lead to burnout.
6. Ask For Feedback From Clients
Client feedback is invaluable for improving your skills and services, so don’t forget to ask for their opinion at the end of each project. Not all feedback will be positive, but it’s the negative feedback we can learn the most from!
Where To Start Freelancing When You Have No Experience
Getting started as a freelancer without any experience can seem like an intimidating prospect, but with the right guidance and resources, you can be successful. There are various platforms where you can find freelance work such as Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour and Toptal.
These platforms all offer different types of projects, and they cater to various skill sets. You could also look into joining a co-working space or networking with other freelancers in your sector. There are also various niche-specific job boards and other platforms, like ProBlogger for writers and TaskRabbit for freelancers offering physical rather than digital services.
Freelance Marketplaces For Beginners
Freelancer: Freelancer is one of the most popular freelancing platforms, and it offers projects in a variety of different fields, such as web development, graphic design, copywriting and more.
Fiverr: Fiverr is an online marketplace for digital services, including logo design, content writing and virtual assistant tasks. You can learn more about getting started on the platform in my beginner’s guide to Fiverr.
Upwork: Upwork is another popular platform where you can find freelance jobs in various areas, from programming to translation services. It’s also possible to create proposals for clients who are looking for specific skills or services that match your own abilities.
PeoplePerHour: PeoplePerHour offers both fixed price and hourly rate jobs for freelancers in a variety of fields. It’s also possible to post your own services on the platform and start receiving offers from potential clients who are looking for what you offer.
Guru: Guru is an online marketplace that connects employers with talented professionals in various industries such as design, web development, writing and marketing. There are both fixed price and hourly projects available so you can find one that fits your specific needs.
Toptal: Toptal is a freelancing platform specifically designed to connect businesses with elite freelance talent in software development, design, finance and more. Unlike other platforms, it requires applicants to go through an extensive screening process before they’re accepted onto the platform, so it might not be the one to try out first unless you have very specific skills.
How To Find Your First Freelancing Clients
Here are some tips for finding your first freelancing clients:
- Networking is key – reach out to people in your industry and let them know what services you offer
- Make sure your profile on freelancing sites is complete and well-presented so potential clients can easily find out more about you
- Offer discounts or special deals for repeat customers – this will help build loyalty and encourage them to come back for future projects!
- Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to promote yourself and showcase your work – be sure to post regularly and interact with other freelancers
- Join online forums related to your industry – this is a great way to connect with potential clients and find out about any upcoming opportunities they may have
- Don’t be afraid to cold email businesses that you think could use your services – sometimes taking the initiative will pay off!
- Get creative when it comes to marketing yourself – create videos, blog posts, eBooks, and more that will help you stand out from the competition
- Look for freelance work on job boards such as Indeed, Craigslist, ProBlogger and ZipRecruiter so you can find work quickly and easily
Tips For Finding Success As A Freelancer
Build Relationships – This is key for finding and keeping clients. Make sure you stay in touch with former customers and offer discounts or special deals for repeat business.
Invest In Yourself – Attend events and seminars related to your profession, read books, join online communities and stay up to date on industry trends.
Set Realistic Goals – Make sure you have a plan of where you want to be in the future so that you can set achievable targets for yourself.
Take Breaks – Regular breaks will help keep your mind fresh and ensure that you’re productive when it counts! This is also key to avoid burnout.
Track Your Progress – Use tools such as invoicing software to measure how successful you’re being as a freelancer.
Don’t Forget About Taxes – Make sure you save money for tax season, so you’re not caught out when it comes to filing your return.
Price Yourself Correctly – Don’t undervalue your work and make sure that you research what other comparable freelancers are charging in your industry, adjusting your rates accordingly and as you pick up new skills you can offer clients.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No – While it can be tempting to take on every job that comes your way, make sure you prioritize quality over quantity and only accept projects that are within your skill set and align with your goals.
Key Things To Know Before You Start Freelancing
Understand The Legalities
Make sure you’re familiar with employer and employee rights when it comes to freelancing, as well as any tax or insurance requirements in your country or state. There may also be age restrictions to consider if you’re under 18 and looking to become a freelancer.
Set Up A Workspace
Having a designated area to work will help you stay organized and productive. Invest in good quality equipment such as a laptop, monitor and comfortable chair so that you can work comfortably for long periods of time.
Find Out About Contracts
Get advice from an expert on setting up legally binding agreements between yourself and clients to ensure protection for both parties involved.
Working from home can be challenging sometimes, especially if there are other distractions around you such as family or pets. Make sure you maintain a regular working schedule and take breaks when necessary.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Don’t hesitate to reach out to other freelancers if you need some advice or guidance – everyone needs help from time to time!
5 Good Resources For Beginner Freelancers
1. Freelance Websites
These sites act as a marketplace where you can find jobs, submit proposals and connect with potential clients. See the list earlier in this article for a few examples.
2. Social Media Platforms
Use these to promote your services, build relationships with customers, and showcase your portfolio of work.
3. Online Forums
Join conversation threads related to your field so that you can stay up to date on industry news, trends and best practices.
4. Conferences & Seminars
Attending events is a great way to meet people in the industry and network with potential clients.
5. Books Or Blogs
Get advice from experienced professionals so that you can gain insight into the industry, learn new skills and become a successful freelancer!
Starting a career as a freelancer can be daunting, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. With the right attitude, dedication, and preparation, you can find success in this field.