By Daniel Ross, 10x Guest Writer
There’s an old joke that companies often post job descriptions with the following requirements: “We’re looking for an employee between the ages of 22-26 with 30 years of experience.”
If you need experience before your first job, how on earth are you supposed to get it? It’s an interesting conundrum. Rest assured, if you have a marketable skill, you can be a freelancer.
Today’s world is full of freelancers, and they’re all doing different kinds of work. There is a thriving market for freelancers and several useful platforms on which they can find work. So while there might be an abundance of job opportunities for freelancers today, there’s also more competition for those jobs.
If you are particularly good at what you do (like our 10xers), there’s no reason you shouldn’t be successful.
Here are four basic necessities you should understand when you’re thinking of starting out as a freelancer:
Define your skills
If you have a skill, there is someone out there who can use it. You might be a personal assistant, a desktop publisher, a graphic designer, or a talented writer… whatever your skill, there is a business out there looking for it, so you just need to find a way to get yourself in front of them. When you have a selection of potentially useful skills, you can do a little research to see if anyone is looking for those skills.
Browse through the job postings on different sites and see if anyone is looking for your skillset. If there’s nothing that matches on one day, try again the next day – different roles come up all the time.
Showcase your work
Most clients will ask you to provide examples of previous work. Some will ask you to do a test piece of some kind. If you don’t have any previous work available, you can offer to create a test piece for their analysis. Another option is to provide some free work to an organization with a good following. For example, a writer may offer a piece to an online magazine for no fee. If it is accepted and published, the writer then has a piece to refer future clients to.
Ideally, you’ll have your own website – this gives you an online presence, and the ability to showcase your work. It looks professional and indicates that you’re dedicated to what you do. A website doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can build a simple one on Squarespace, WordPress or Wix, for example.
Once you start doing work for your new clients, it will either be showcased publicly by your client (which is ideal) or on your own website. You can also get ratings and reviews on your freelancer profile, which will then make it easier for you to attract new clients.
Once you have some examples in your portfolio, you are ready to start marketing yourself. Social media is a good avenue for promotion. There are potential clients everywhere, so make sure you have a LinkedIn account and a professional Facebook page for your services. Contact prospective clients to highlight your services, but try not to come across as desperate!
If you’re serious about attracting clients long-term, it’s smart to have a good personal brand. Not every successful freelancer does this, but it definitely helps many to get work. Designers of any kind should certainly have a brand. After all, they may be involved in helping others to create their own.
Ask your friends, family and other contacts if they know of anyone who needs your services. Word of mouth is one of the best marketing methods around. Lastly, if you can specialize in any way, this will be more attractive to clients than generic services would be. Market yourself with USPs (unique selling points) where possible, so that people can see what makes you different to your competitors.
Don’t give up!
Becoming a successful freelancer isn’t something that happens overnight for most people. It might take you a year or more to build up the kind of reputation that consistently attracts new clients to your door.
Until the time comes when clients start approaching you, you’re going to need to pitch regularly. Obviously the more clients you pitch, the higher the chances you have of getting a job. The momentum isn’t likely to gather until you’ve got at least five jobs under your belt – maybe more. Keep this in mind and keep your eye on the long-term goal: freelancing freedom!
When you’ve done a great job, ensure your clients leave a shining review or a testimonial for your site. That way, you’ll have something solid with which to backup your work examples. When past clients publicly comment on your skills, other clients will have more faith in you, which naturally speeds up the process.
As you get the hang of freelance work, you’ll be able to polish your presence, skills and reputation so that you can pick and choose your clients.
For now, taking note of these four freelancing necessities should be enough to get you started on the path to that shiny career you’ve been dreaming of.
Author Bio: Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler — a scheduling and payroll software platform founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.
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