Starting your own freelancing career is no small feat, especially when you have very little to no experience. It can be difficult to find work and give clients confidence in you when you don’t have any testimonials or work samples to show for yourself. To start a freelance business, you need a passion for your work, dedication, and a whole lot of patience. In this post, we’ll share advice on how to start freelancing with no experience, including types of freelancing jobs, how to get jobs as a contractor, and tools that will advance your freelancing career.
What Are Freelance Jobs and What Does it Mean to Be a Freelancer?
A freelancer works for themselves instead of for a company. They have autonomy and freedom to make their own decisions around how and when they work. This extra freedom means increased responsibility, which includes acquiring new business, maintaining clients, pricing work, and invoicing.
Pros of Freelancing
Cons of Freelancing
● Work from home or while traveling
● Create your own schedule
● Decide your own workload
● Flexibility to work around a partner’s or child’s schedule
● Choose what rate/amount you want to charge clients
● No commute to the office
● Fewer unnecessary meetings
● Choose which clients you want to work with
● No set contract can mean less stability
● Inconsistent paychecks
● No paid vacation
● Responsible for finding and managing clients
● Not working with a consistent team
● Lack the support of a manager, boss, or team leader
● Need to calculate and pay all of your own taxes
● No workplace-provided healthcare benefits
If a freelancer is hired to do work for another company, they are often called a contractor. They are paid by the company for completing work, but for tax purposes, they are not considered an employee. The employer doesn’t need to withhold taxes when paying freelancers/contractors, which means it’s the freelancer’s responsibility to calculate and pay personal taxes as well as any relevant sales tax.
Freelance Jobs You Work by Yourself
- Content writing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Copy editing
- Website design
- Graphic design
- Social media specialist
- Brand development
- Public relations
- Customer support
- Data entry
- Computer programming
- App development
- Game development
- Video editing
- Voice acting
- Legal services
- Virtual assistant
How to Start Freelancing With No Experience
Improve Your Skills and Build Work Samples
The largest hurdle you need to tackle as a freelancer with no experience is finding opportunities that will get you that experience. There are plenty of crafty ways to build your skills and work samples before landing an actual freelancing job.
For starters, even if you don’t have direct freelancing experience, some of your other work experience could be translated into work samples or examples of your achievements. What work or accomplishments from your previous employment can you point to? Show the work as best you can. If you had a job in marketing, what specific results did you achieve for the company you worked for? For example,
“Website traffic increased by 110% due to my tailored SEO strategy.”
“I grew the company Instagram account from 400 followers to over 2000 in less than 6 months.”
An unfortunate reality is that you may need to complete some training or projects for free. While this isn’t recommended as a regular practice, you may not have any other choice if you have no freelancing experience.
Consider how you can use your own personal projects to get practice and expand your portfolio. If you want to be a freelance writer, start a blog where you can practice your writing on a regular basis. Having your own website to prepare and publish articles will help you learn about blogging best practices, the back end of websites, and search engine optimization.
You can also offer your services to friends and family or donate your time to a worthy cause to gain more experience. Reach out to non-profit organizations to see if they are willing to have you donate some of your time to a project. At first, you need to look for any work you can get. Even taking a free course online will help you hone your skills, and it may leave you with work samples. Clients that are considering hiring you want to see what you can do. They won’t know that you weren’t directly hired or paid for all of your work samples.
Update Your LinkedIn and Social Profiles
As a freelancer, you are your own brand. What’s displayed online about you matters, and it could be seen by a potential client. Review all of your public social media accounts to ensure there isn’t anything on there that you wouldn’t want a client to find. Do a Google search of yourself too to see what others will find when they look you up online.
You can also use social media to market yourself. Decide whether or not you want to use your current accounts or create brand new ones dedicated to your freelance brand. Review your LinkedIn account and make sure it’s dedicated to your freelance career, including a relevant job title, about section, and contact information.
Pick a Niche or Specialty
What makes you different? How will you differentiate yourself from other freelancers? Being an expert at fewer things is better than being mediocre at a lot of things.
A proofreader specializing in academic papers is better able to market themselves and is more appealing to clients than a broader strategy that covers proofreading, copy editing, writing, etc. The more you can specialize yourself, the better. While at first you may be accepting any job you can get, the more experience you acquire, the more specialized you can make your personal brand. Find a niche and keep getting better at it.
Utilize Hiring Platforms
Hiring platforms can help you find work fast with far fewer marketing costs. These networks find the clients and bring them to the platform, so you can focus more of your efforts on completing quality work.
There are big, well known platforms, such as Upwork and Fiverr, but these are also known for being more competitive. Seek out smaller networks as these will have less competition. Each platform is a little different, and they all have different rules about how you show your skills, how you are paid, and how (or if) you interact with clients.
Some platforms cover a broad range of skills, where others only offer work in a specific industry, such as marketing or graphic design. Ask in online freelancing groups what hiring networks others are using and which ones are preferred. Some examples include FreeUp, Toptal, CloudPeeps, Writer Finder, Pitch, Codementor, and 99designs.
Seek Advice From Those Who Have Done It Before
There are all sorts of resources and networks available online that will help you better understand if freelancing is right for you and how to get started. LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, and other online platforms have groups dedicated to freelancing, location independence, and remote work. Online groups can also help you network with other freelancers and meet potential clients.
Try It Out Before You Commit
Being a freelancer may not be for you. It requires a diverse set of skills and ample dedication to grow your business. The lifestyle offers flexibility, freedom, and excitement, but that lack of stability and structure isn’t for everyone.
Before you fully commit, give the lifestyle a test run. Try freelancing on the side at first to see whether or not you like it. Complete small projects, even unpaid ones, to see if you like the work you would be doing. Working for free isn’t always the best option, but when you don’t have any experience at all, it can get you some much-needed work samples.
Freelance Business Tools
Online tools are a huge asset for freelancers, and in some cases, they are what make working remotely possible. They keep freelancers productive, organized, and connected while working from home or on the move.
- Stripe is a payment processing platform for creating customized invoices.
- Asana is a productivity tool that can help freelancers keep track of work tasks, projects, and due dates.
- When you work for yourself, it’s up to you to keep yourself on track. A Pomodoro Timer helps freelancers divide work into small productive bursts with timed breaks in between focused work.
- Website blockers, such as Cold Turkey, Focus, or Forest, block distracting websites to keep you from wasting time on social media, blogs, or news aggregates.
- Calendly helps freelancers set availability, share calendars, and book work without wasting time on back-and-forth emails.
- World Time Buddy is a time zone converter, world clock, and online meeting scheduler.
- DocuSign or SignRequest automate online signatures for contracts, forms, and anything else you need to have signed virtually.
- Virtual PO Boxes allow freelancers to receive mail online instead of in-person in order to automate processes and receive mail when working from anywhere in the world.
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