After conversing with some of my readers via email I have come to the conclusion that many newcomers to freelancing still don’t have a clue on where to start once they decide to become a freelance writer. This dilemma doesn’t just affect writers, but also designers and has the potential to stop them from becoming successful.
Therefore the tips I will provide below will apply both for freelance writers and designers. By knowing what you could do to get going, it will hopefully help you to put aside procrastination and doubt and just go for it.
These ideas are designed to give you some inspiration on how to get started in your freelancing career and are in no way conclusive. There are virtually hundreds of ways to kick start your careers.
Feel free to take one or several of these ideas on run with it. And don’t forget to let me know how you are going too. I always love to get feedback from my readers with information about their own businesses.
1.) Talk to local business owners
Local businesses operate in all kinds of industries. Regardless whether you are a writer or designer, your local market is yours to take – if you only want to.
The potential of getting tons of work through local business operators should never be underestimated as it is huge! Here are some ideas on how to approach them with your proposal:
- do some market research by visiting each business and ask whether they could do with a helping hand through writing/design
- advertise your services in the local paper
- drop simple business cards/flyers into each business establishment and tell the boss that you are available for work
- network on local business events (breakfast clubs, networking clubs, tourism boards)
2.) Help a friend for free
There is no advertising like helping a friend for free by offering your freelance services to them. Not only will it help you to sharpen your skills, but you’ll also gain some invaluable feedback that can help you to become better at your craft.
A second bonus on doing free work is getting testimonials. A great opportunity for new freelancers to grab some testimonials for their portfolio site.
3.) Start blogging
Whether you are a freelance writer or designer, a blog is a fantastic medium for you to sharpen your skills. Getting into the habit of writing often or re-designing your blog will make you a master at your craft. Blogging has many benefits for freelancers:
- your clients get to know you before they hire you which is great since they like you before you get the job
- a blog allows you to network with other bloggers and potential clients
- it also provides you with an online weapon that you can use for target practice
- you get better at what you do through sheer practice
- it helps to build your confidence
Don’t ever think that you are worth nothing if you only just started. Expect the best of yourself and it will happen!
4.) Design a portfolio website
A portfolio site is an absolute must if you are a freelancer. Personally I prefer to keep this site separate from my blog. The idea is to have a site with my story, my experiences and my client testimonials to send potential clients to.
If they want a writing sample I normally send them to my blog which is sufficient 95% of the time. Whether I write about toilet seats, niche marketing or baking a cake is irrelevant, since my writing is already injected with my very own flavour.
This allows a client to quickly see, whether I’m qualified for the job or not.
My blog is my regular medium in which I talk with you guys and share my wisdom and my experience in the trenches.
Must haves of a portfolio site:
- your story
- client testimonials
- list of experiences/qualifications
- contact form/details
- a picture of you and not your dog or your fish (preferably smiling)
- a hire me page (alternatively you can have this on your blog or on both sites)
5.) Bid for jobs
With the amount of freelancing job websites that appear all the time, we have unlimited opportunities to find work. Freelancing job sites offer us a way to bid for available jobs and if chosen we will end up with a new job.
I compiled a range of freelance writing job websites a little while ago. This list should help to get you started in the right direction. The idea is to bid on as many jobs you could handle if you get chosen for each one and then work from there.
The great thing about most of these are that you don’t pay a cent to find work.
6.) Become a member of a freelance agent site
Freelance agent sites are websites that offer paid membership to freelancers. In return for their money, freelancers get up to date information on where to submit their work for best chances at success.
Some of them are also free to join which give you work if suitable for a job. I have included two of them below to give you an idea.
7.) Join a business network
Business networks are a massive source of potential income for freelancers. You will make great new friends by joining a business network and this could lead to a lot of future work.
The hardest part I think is the beginning when you are trying to establish yourself, but once this is achieved you’ll be connected to many useful contacts. The networks I have listed here are online networks and are also used from non professionals. Offline business networks are another way of getting in touch, similar to local networking.
8.) Stop procrastination
I can honestly say, that if I wouldn’t have procrastinated so much in the past I would probably already earn $10,000/ month right now. Every day we waste with procrastination is money wasted that will never come back.
I know it isn’t easy to always be motivated. Nobody is and we all feel like just kicking up our heels sometime and do nothing at all.
That’s fine too …
… as long as you make up for it in some ways by either working ahead (preferred) or working back. Unfortunately until you hit the big time as a freelancer it is work – work – work.
Freelancing can be very scary if we solely depend on this income alone. I should know, since this is my first month of full time freelance writing. My writing is all I have right now and if no work comes in, I don’t get paid.
When times are hard and work is scarce we truly excel ourselves by becoming very creative.
I’m a strong believer that sometimes all we need is to get thrown outside our comfort zone to become a rising star.
What do you think?