A guest post written by Stacey Wonder.
If you have recently decided to try your hand at freelancing, you are not alone. Every day, thousands of people make the decision to branch out on their own and seek either total financial independence or just a little more stability by doing something they’re good at and charging money for the use of their talent. That, in a nutshell is what freelancing is, and you are incredibly smart for even considering it.
Today, we want to give you a roadmap for getting started that will, hopefully, put you directly on a path to success.
#1: Establish A Website
If you intend to market your services online, a website with your own domain is crucial to quickly building and maintaining your reputation. You need a base of operations where clients can find you and interact with you.
Your website is like your store or home office. It is where things like your portfolio, contact information, and description of your service(s) should primarily reside. You can refer clients to your site to get a feel for how you do things and to sample your work.
#2: Build Your Portfolio
Sample material is a must if you intend to land clients as a freelancer. Most anyone who considers hiring you will want an idea of the quality they can expect so be prepared to show what you can do. Even if you’ve never been paid to perform the service you are offering, you should have at least a little experience in that arena.
Your early samples may not seem to be as good as you would like them to be, but that’s all right. Keep in mind that other people will look at your work from a far different perspective than you and will see things from the point of view of their own needs. In most cases, other people will be less critical of your work than you are, so don’t be embarrassed to show your talent.
As you land more gigs, you will be able to add to your portfolio. Always ask clients if you can use the work you do for them as sample material to find other clients. Most will be more than happy to let you. Some might even write you a testimonial or endorsement if you ask for one. These things should all be on your website and accessible to potential future clients to examine.
#3: Charge Reasonable Rates
When you are first starting out, don’t expect to get paid the same as someone with more experience. Remember, your early work is not going to be your best. As you improve your skills, you can afford to charge more for your services. Establish realistic rates based on your level of skill and the quality you bring to the table.
Freelancers will often do dozens of projects at very low rates at first, just to establish a portfolio. They then raise their rates when they have enough proof to bring to a potential client that their work is worth the price. Don’t be greedy, but don’t undervalue your work either. Find a happy medium and set your rates at a level you would be willing to pay if you were the client.
#4: Build Your Reputation
One of the easiest ways to find clients and get some good feedback on your work is to establish a presence on some of the aforementioned freelancing sites. You can then promote your profile, direct clients to your onsite portfolio or link out to your own site to view samples.
There are many sites, such as Upwork, that cater to a variety of freelancing work, and some that specialize in just one, such as EssayTigers, which is a freelance platform for writers. Upwork is an example of a site that provides opportunities for all kinds of freelancers to make their mark. You advertise by bidding on jobs and attempting to network with potential clients. Keep your rates low at the beginning and be willing to negotiate. If you’re new, the client is taking a degree of risk so don’t expect to be paid too handsomely without proving your worth.
The competition at the bidding sites can be a little intense. For a more level playing field, consider discount freelancing sites like Fiverr and Textbroker. These sites carry the advantage of not making you pay to bid on jobs, but rather establish contact directly with clients and, in some cases, work with them long-term. Again, these sites don’t pay all that well, but they are great places to get your foot in the door and begin building your reputation in the greater freelancing community.
#5 – Establish a Strong Presence on Social Media
Social media provides you with the largest audience for marketing campaigns in the world, so use the various platforms to your advantage. If you are using your blog specifically to market your services (and you should be), consider spending just a few dollars a day on paid ads. They will help you reach a wider audience and increase likes and shares for your content.
All these things help more people find you and provide you with, among other perks, opportunities to submit guest posts to blogs within your niche.
You also want to tailor your social media marketing to the platforms where your specific services would be best received. If you are a copywriter or editor, keep a well-written, regularly-updated blog and share your blog content on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter along with calls to action that direct potential clients to your online portfolio or landing page. Engagement on blog content is particularly high on those sites.
If you are marketing anything in the realm of audio or visual media (podcast editing, video production, graphic design, etc.), you want a more visual and immersive platform to advertise your business. That means creating content for platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
Put It All Together
Once you have done all of the above, you should be well on your way to becoming a successful freelancer. Who knows? Your skills might wind up being much more in-demand that you think. Whatever your goal is – financial independence, a good second income, or just some extra pocket money – it is completely accessible if you’re willing to work hard and be patient while striving to make your mark.