During the past two years of freelancing, the number 1 question that I get asked, is “how do I start freelancing?” While self-employment is getting more common, there’s still some mystery surrounding it. In this blog post, I will outline how would start again if I were starting from scratch, sharing what I have learnt in the past two years. I hope this takes away some of the mystique and inspires you to start your freelance or side hustle business.
Start with a list
Maybe you know exactly what your business should be, but maybe you don’t. If that is the case, start by writing down all the things you can do, especially emphasizing what you like to do. Ideally, you would start this process while still employed, but don’t worry if you’re not, this was how I started too. Have a look at your list and start thinking about how you could sell this to someone. This is vague, I know, but we have to start somewhere!
Remember that people pay for value, so whatever you end up doing, it must give value to someone else. For example, when I started my freelance journey I wanted to get started fast. My background is in marketing and social media, so this was a logical service that I knew I could sell to businesses. I provide value by doing work that the companies don’t have the in-house capabilities to do themselves. You might have different skillsets though. Maybe you are a great photographer, and you can optimize your instagram account to sell private photo sessions around town. Or perhaps you have a great eye for fashion, what about doing an online personal shopping business? There are so many options out there for different businesses- don’t let yourself be limited by what is considered “normal” or “conventional”. Times are changing!
When doing this exercise, don’t feel like you have to narrow down to just one income source though. Most freelancers diversify and set up multiple streams of income. Some common ones include affiliate marketing, downloadables, courses, and private coaching lessons. Keep this in mind when you start your business, as this is something I wish I would have spent more time on during those early days.
Do the groundwork
The importance of exercise cannot be overstated, but is so very easy to overlook. Do your research and see who else is doing something similar and look at how they are marketing themselves. Unfortunately, clients don’t just appear once you decide to start a freelance business. That’s why it’s important to get a sense of what others are doing so you can follow the same trends. AND maybe you see areas of improvement which will help set you apart 😉
To be honest, this is where I failed when I first started out. I was so ready to get started that I didn’t think about my personal brand or who I really wanted to work with. Today, I would be more selective, but back then I took on any and all projects. Instead, I should have spent a little more time learning how others were marketing themselves (and selling their higher prices) so that I could have emulated that. Remember that knowledge is power, so this is a great exercise. Bonus points if you can already think about some potential customers while doing this, and you can keep a running list of people or businesses to contact!
Fake it till you make it!
I know this is said too often, but it cannot be overstated. If you don’t have freelance experience, don’t worry! My recommendation would be to put together a portfolio of previous work that you’ve done. If you are switching careers or starting from scratch, do some mockup work for fake clients to highlight your skills. This will help present you as an experienced professional, even if you don’t have experience yet. Before my first interview I didn’t have a portfolio, so I scrambled putting one together. Luckily I had samples of previous work and had worked on a recognizable brand as part of my agency experience. This helped establish legitimacy during the first interview, but I was also honest about being new to freelancing.
While you may be tempted to lowball your prices, I would strongly urge you to do your research beforehand and not sell yourself short. Being too timid on pricing definitely set me back, so please don’t make the same mistake. Put on a good outfit, one that makes you feel confident, and make sure to have a positive attitude during the interview. When they ask about your pricing, say it with confidence because you know your worth 😉
Put in the work
I hate to say it, but there is no magic bullet to get rich quick. Unfortunately, we do all need to put in some effort if we want to secure the bag. Make sure you start off strong and treat every client (big or small) with professionalism, especially in the beginning. You never know who will refer you to your next big gig, and I would always advise over-delivering rather than under performing. As I mentioned above, I would also keep a running list of “dream clients” and email them your portfolio. In the beginning, outreach is especially important and you cannot expect work to magically appear. It has been my experience though that satisfied clients will refer you to others, so make sure to do a good job.
I hope these insights have shed some light onto how you can get started. I know it can be daunting, but don’t let yourself be put off by that. Remember that you can do anything you set your mind to and that there is no reason to hold yourself back from getting the life you want. Still not sure how to get started? Schedule a free 15 minute chat with me, and I will help you get started.