By now, you’ve heard that freelancing is the place to be working in the 21st-century. It’s everyone’s dream job: Setting your own schedule and being your own boss.
Who wouldn’t want in on this trillion-dollar industry?
But … what if you don’t have any experience?
Yes, there’s that little catch-22. Clients want freelancers with experience, but to get experience, you have to have clients.
What’s a budding entrepreneur to do?
The answer to that burning question is right here. Breaking into a new freelance industry is possible. You can have a thriving career as a freelancer, even if you start without experience, when you use these tips.
1. Be Willing to Work to Build a Portfolio
While it’s absolutely possible to demand top dollar for your services, doing so early in your freelancing career is not always smart.
Many clients are willing to take a chance on a newbie in the industry in exchange for lower rates.
If you see a potential job you can bid on that will look good on your portfolio, contact the client directly. Let them know you have a lot of skills in the area but are new to freelancing. Since you’re building your reputation, you’d be willing to do their job for whatever your minimum rate is.
Over time, you can increase your rates and take on better quality work. But as you’re breaking in, you need to at least break even on your income!
2. Learn How to Sell Yourself
What you say in your client pitch is important, but so is what you don’t say. Honesty is always the best policy. That doesn’t mean you have to overstate your lack of experience.
Instead, word your profile so that it showcases your skills and only slightly touches on work history. Use the talents that make you unique to grab a prospective client’s interest.
When you’re explaining why you don’t have a big portfolio or high star rating, keep it simple. Make a short blurb that says you’re new to freelancing but not new to the industry itself.
3. Use Professional Tools
Not every freelancer needs a website, although these are a great place to point your clients in and store a portfolio. But you do need professional tools to help you interact with others, keep your schedule, and store your work.
It’s difficult to keep your personal and professional life separate if you’re using social media as your primary contact. Creating a business page is one thing, but how do you handle your secure documents and transactions?
The sooner you use business software to grow, the faster you’ll see a return on your investment.
4. Follow the Right Leads
You have everything set up to land a client, and you know your stuff. So how do you get them to know you’re around?
You can use your network and reach out to contact people directly. Social media is a great platform to let others know you’ve started freelancing. But while you wait for cold leads to turn warm, your bills have to be paid.
The trick is in the leads and job sites you follow. These are warm potential clients who are actively looking for someone to hire.
Scams are everywhere, so be on the lookout. Use a reputable freelancing site like Upwork or Flexjobs. Avoid sites that can be sketchy, such as Craigslist. Never give out your financial information to anyone without vetting them first.
5. Be Willing to Ask for Help
You’re trying something new, and the success or failure of your endeavor impacts your life. Asking for help from those who have already been in your shoes is not a weakness. It’s a great way to learn from their mistakes.
If you know someone who owns their own business or has been freelancing for a while, reach out to them. Let them know what you’re trying to do, and ask if they would mind giving you their thoughts and experience.
Offer to take them for a coffee or ask for a video chat. If they agree, come up with a list of questions to break the ice during your meeting. People who feel like their opinion is appreciated are more likely to be honest and forthcoming.
When you hear the ups and downs from someone who has gone through them firsthand, their advice is a great guide. Tips for what works and what doesn’t may be what you need to propel your business forward faster!
Breaking into any industry without experience is tough. But the freelancing world is an entirely new ballgame. Luckily, tens of millions of people before you have gone for their piece of the entrepreneurial pie.
With these tried and true tips, you can set yourself up for success in your new career as a freelancer!